A Cobble Stone, A Drop
in response to Roots Bloody Roots by Rodrigo Garcia Alves / Studio Disorder
Here are some of the Many questions that came up after spectating the 3 programs of the Witch Dance Festival at the Sophiensäle in October 2016:
How come the only project in Berlin with high percentage of People of Colour is about witchcraft and magic?
How come institutions and curators get to decide which artists will make work on which topics?
Who is the witch and who is the idiot?
“Art has deep and difficult eyes and for many the gaze is too insistent. Better to pretend that art is dumb, or at least has nothing to say that makes sense to us. If art, all art, is concerned with truth, then a society in denial will not find much use for it”
Jeanette Winterson/Art objects
A naked, unidentifiable body is moving on the darkened stage. Live sounds are performing companionship for the movement. The only word I have to describe these sounds is “tribal”, though I wouldn’t know of which tribe. Later in the artist talk I am informed with a clearer sense of location: North East Brazil. I have never been to Brazil. The naked body is slow moving, in transition. Hair extensions of flexible snakes are gradually revealed. Medusa was the kind of woman that if you looked into her eyes you would turn to stone. The live sounds are turning to rock music or heavy metal, I never know the difference. Companionship turns complicated as the rough sounds offer friction to the round and soft movements. Sounds and movements match and meet momentarily, turning co-existence to a potent encounter.
I look at the stage and wonder what an ugly body is. I see hair, fat, genitalia. I see ass and slime. The sounds turn “tribal” again, the musician performing is playing electronic drums. Can somebody in the audience recognize these sounds? Is somebody familiar with these rhythms? Do they make someone think of home?
I imagine a cobble stone on stage, like the ones paving the unbikable Berliner streets. I imagine a very deep elbow bend and a strike on the electric drums which hurts my ear. How much does a cobble stone weigh? My gaze focuses on the little red shiny heart on the flashy sweaty ass so I miss the drop of the stone. The musician is stepping in with a drum, penetrating the sacred space of the movement. Transitory bodies. Transitory stones.
The naked body on stage is humping, is twerking. Her name is Pedra, we meet the following day at the Trans March. A woman is looking away, another one is sighing when Pedra is pulling up her penis and spanking her pussy. When are these gestures not obscene and abject anymore? I notice my own perception changing the longer and closer I observe the image on stage. What is it that we simply need to get to know? Get used to? Spend time with?
A ritual begins. Lifting of the torso, twisting, hitting the hips on the floor, right, left, clapping twice. The forearms are rolling up shaking up and down. The woman musician continues to drum around the stage but I cannot see her face. Pedra is meditating further. Lifting the torso, twisting, hitting the hips on the floor, right, left, clapping twice. The forearms are rolling up shaking up and down. The man in the audience who clapped his hands during the previous show just left the theatre.
9 people from the audience come onto the stage, except for one they are all brown or black. They are performing a score: shaking their shoulders up and down, one at a time. Raising signs that say “Nein zum putsch in Brazilien” and “A coup took place in Brazil” and more signs in languages I do not speak. Gesturing a triangle with their hands on their foreheads. Another language I don’t speak, the language of this gesture, but I can sense its meaning through their presence, through the shift of energy.
The street came into the theatre and onto the stage. A demonstration, not a metaphorical one, but one that exclaims. In this very moment the ancient, distant ritual becomes a contemporary ritual. What is the difference in the ways these rituals are an expression of resistance? What has changed in the way rituals are a manifestation of our civil responsibility to justice? can Contemporary Dance also be an instance of that responsibility?
The cobble stones return, as we are constantly practicing being on the streets. Whose eyes do we need to look into?