by Eszter Salamon
p h o t o s ° Alain Roux
Duration of the body-mass
It doesn’t often happen that we read a curator or an artist’s description of a performance event and then feel that if we were required to talk about or comment on that event there would actually be few words to add. This is what I find in trying to write about Nvsbl, having of course to abide by words and their duration, their linearity: “I set out from the false dilemma of two possible ways of looking: one based on believing in what is seen… and the other on vision as tautology, meaning what I see is what I see… I sought a different form for creating another perception, one that wasn’t the simple opposition of the two,” said Eszter Salamon, adding that she worked on the concept of movement developed by Henri Bergson and on his conception of duration in which past present and future are fused. These reflections really do take shape onstage where we watch the imperceptible and therefore invisible movements of four dancers who emerge very slowly from a dark background: with their bodies, and with a miraculous play of lights, they are not so much composing figures as being figures, apparently motionless but actually changing. Figures that become channels of a “logic of sensation” (Deleuze), at times also laboriously alienating for a public accustomed to seeing and therefore judging what it manages to interpret (“But nothing’s happening here,” said a woman in front of me, fidgeting nervously in her seat). It is however a logic capable of restoring our thought of the body as a force at once precise and devastating and also, quite simply, beautiful, like the beauty associated with certain paintings that continually come to mind as we try to watch Nvsbl. The power of this thought is demonstrated by such a reduction of movement in space as to render the very reality of the bodies inaccessible, because it deprives us of control over our own perception and consequently of presumed control over bodies which our vision believed it could frame and interpret with its own memory models.
So what I am inserting into the spaces between the words and within the latter, squeezed between the string of consonants with which Eszter Salamon has entitled her creation, are perhaps only a few vowels (from nvsbl to invisible), to somewhat awkwardly mime with my comment another duration, the one Salamon and her dancers give us through our senses in the space-time that Nvsbl re-occupies and re-creates. A space-time featuring another perception and a rhythm which we feel on our skin and which we literally ‘undergo’ while our gaze skips from one figure to another, grasping a grimace, a tension, a contraction, a relaxing, an accent, then passes on to another, to other forces and colours, finding a transformation already begun, already completed, whose passage and shifting it was however unable to grasp. My vowels then are long spaces which bring back into a ‘normal’ and perhaps ‘tautological’ dimension an actually indescribable show which transfers to and for the vision-sensation of the spectator a conception of the body not only as place of anchorage but of circulation and transformation of meaning, system of pouring out, wounds, transhipments, a permeable necessity in which interior and exterior may be continually redefined. In this way Nvsbl imposes a revision, a partial and momentary interruption of the apparently free flowing mechanism that unites body and ego, body and language, within a relationship that is a fold, a curvature of the world, and not a relation between necessities that are ontologically determined and distinct: substance and form, matter and spirit. The sound itself comes and goes, inscribed so to speak in the rhythm of the bodies, resurfacing as a song scarcely hinted at and almost inaudible and becoming the word that scans the show every five minutes (but the actual duration is grasped only a posteriori, on thinking it over), a phrase with no ‘meaning’ if not that of framing the duration itself, its beginning and end, the expectation and its completion: “From the beginning I speak to tell that this is the very end.” The present contains its past and its future.
To conceive of an invisible choreography, and with this to write the body and its thought, perhaps means making the body itself an object of trans-duction, the vehicle of a relationship and translation among figures, images and people that maintains the force of a presence, of a reality of experience which is returned to us through the duration of the action and the perception thereof. That is, the body becomes a dimension in which relationships “assume value” in a process of transfers and transformations that set out from and return to the body, that put themselves forward as its emergences, its reformulations or metamorphoses within a general process of organisation of the material. The fluidity which in Nvsbl seems to be the effect of a paradoxically accelerated slowing down, and which causes us “not to see what was” and “to see what isn’t there”, thus takes account of transferrals of the same charge, the same power inasmuch as it is valence, value. A power which, precisely inasmuch as it is value, is linked to the collision, the phenomenological orientation of the body, to its inclination, its extension into the gestures which, rendering dynamic the very circulation between lack and balance, make the charge itself possible. The body that Nvsbl thus restores to us, again in the literal sense of the term, is precisely matter and mass, in accordance with physics where mass has a regulatory function between acceleration and force, the charge and its potential are created and cannot but result in tension with opposed potentials in a sort of pulsation between distance and proximity, between tension of charge and resolution of balance. The body is body-mass (Marsciani) because it supplies precisely a “body logic” to the value, a form of organisation without organs since it does not indicate functions fixed once and for all but rather the very need for compossibility, for capacity, for coordination which finds reason and meaning in the body. In gravitation, attraction and repulsion between masses, the body presented in Nvsbl is not a thing, neither an object nor the object but is rather put forward as terrain, as condition, as structural field for the emergence of meaning and its transformations.
This is the terrain of a female body and of forces which moreover elude any specific ideology of the visible within which every subject is always immediately “branded”. The trans-ductions in Nvsbl also suggest a possible model for another harmony of representation in which reproduction of the other, as of the same, is at least never wholly certain. In a present in which the encounter between self and other seems increasingly imbued with cloying romanticism and at the same time with great violence, this feminine body-mass – the forces that bend it but raise it up again, the grimaces of pain but also the way it seeks to lightly touch and to extend beyond itself – helped me in rethinking not only my ways of seeing but also the politics of our glances.
p h o t o s ° Alain Roux
p r o j e c t s
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