tales of the bodiless

by Eszter Salamon with Bojana Cvejic, Cédric Dambrain, Terre Thaemlitz, Sylvie Garot and Peter Böhm












S Y N O P S I S e n g l i s h

TALES OF THE BODILESS
Musical Fiction Without Science

…How can you get off your body?… you are not riding a body, isn't it? It might be possible to get off the body…but how or by what are you transported then?

Can you leave it for a while? Can you take a vacation from your body ? … how long can you stay out of yourself …without losing it all together…..

a composition of voices, sounds, lights and space that evolves in four tales about bodilessness

TALES OF THE BODILESS explore a condition that is hard to imagine before you experience it: a world without human bodies .Once humans are a past, and hence, no longer central, the world is made vacant for fantasies about nonhuman forms of existence. Four landscapes of sensations and cognitions, of sinking and dissolving, of neurosis and aggression, of joy and expansion, of explosion and dissipation. A bodiless world requires that theater send its proper body – the stage – on vacation.

This entails that the theatrical regime of senses and faculties in this performance is unsettled: listening battles vision and sight. The spectators' bodies remain a rare live presence that gives duration to the fictions they inhabit.



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Rosita Boisseau
Eszter Salamon expérimente la disparition du corps dans la danse


Elle est posée bien droite sur un canapé, parle avec ses mains (beaucoup), roule les "r" en mélangeant le français et l'anglais (beaucoup). C'est d'ailleurs dans la langue de Shakespeare, "celle qui l'aide à penser son travail", que la chorégraphe hongroise Eszter Salamon a écrit le texte de son nouveau spectacle Tales of the Bodiless, à l'affiche le 10 et le 11 juin du festival Agora de l'Ircam au Centre Pompidou, à Paris.

Aucun interprète sur le plateau, aucune danse comme il faut s'y attendre, mais des voix, des sons, quelques images projetées, pour une pièce annoncée comme "une fiction sur la dématérialisation du corps qui n'offre aucune des garanties habituelles du spectacle vivant".

'
est dit et c'est très clair. Si Eszter Salamon semble parfois chercher ses mots, elle possède aussi le sens des formules sans bavures. Installée à Berlin depuis le début des années 2000, elle fut pendant près de dix ans, de 1992 à 2000, interprète dans les compagnies des chorégraphes contemporains de Sidonie Rochon, Mathilde Monnier et François Verret. Sa formation originelle croise le ballet et les traditions hongroises. Dans Magyar Tancok (2005), elle évoquait d'ailleurs, sous forme d'une conférence dansée, avec la collaboration de sa mère et de son frère musicien, la richesse des danses folkloriques hongroises qu'elle pratiqua très jeune en famille. Elle y décryptait au passage "ce qui constitue un conflit chez elle en chorégraphiant une sorte d'histoire de son corps" confiait-elle en 2007.

Enquête, documentaire, auto-fiction... Eszter Salamon quadrille le territoire de la danse et de son identité de femme. Son premier solo What a Body you Have Honey (2001), tranchait la question du corps en la dissimulant entièrement nue derrière une grosse couette. Trois ans après, Reproduction déclenchait un Kamasutra conceptuel en réglant son compte à la question du genre : neuf actrices à moustaches et slips rembourrés au bon endroit ruaient dans les brancards de la bienséance. Ça bougeait, ça s'imbriquait, ça ne manquait pas de chair et c'était drôle. En 2007, And then donnait la parole à neuf femmes à travers des films projetés sur le plateau. Leur singularité et point commun : elles s'appellaient toutes Eszter Salamon et étaient souvent d'origine hongroise. C'est sur la Toile que la chorégraphe les avait pistées et contactées pour son spectacle.

Le témoignage et la parole prennent le pas sur la danse. "La fétichisation de la danse comme art pouvant tout dire ne me concerne pas, assène-t-elle. Personnellement, j'ai besoin des mots et ne peux d'ailleurs plus m'en passer aujourd'hui. Pour Tales of the Bodiless, j'ai aussi eu envie d'agrandir le cadre documentaire de mon travail pour spéculer sur quelque chose qui préoccupe tout le monde : la question du corps et de sa disparition."

Tales of the Bodiless serait-il la cristallisation d'un détachement progressif du mouvement ? "Je n'ai plus besoin d'être sur scène aujourd'hui, déclare-t-elle. Par ailleurs, j'aime apprendre des choses différentes à chaque pièce sinon je m'ennuie. Je fais un art expérimental : je n'applique pas un programme qui marche. Je veux que les spectateurs aussi expérimentent." Rosita Boisseau

Tales of the Bodiless, d'Eszter Salamon en collaboration avec Bojana Cvejic. Festival Agora, Ircam. Centre Pompidou, grande salle, Paris 4e. Le 10 et 11 juin. 20 h 30


CLIC
K FOR THE ARTICLE (en français):

http://www.lemonde.fr/culture/article/2011/06/09/eszter-salamon-experimente-la-disparition-du-corps-dans-la-danse_1534022_3246.html










Bojana Cvejic
About the making of the Performance "Tales of the Bodiless"


THE HISTORY of TALES OF THE BODILESS (TB) dates from earlier than its process of making. The initial idea originated in one of eight projects during 6MONTHS1LOCATION (CNC Montpellier, 2007), a platform about research, production and education devised by eight choreographers, performers and theorists. In her project “Elucidations”, Eszter Salamon proposed a vague yet compelling notion of “not having a body” to a group of artists and collaborators (including Sasa Asentic and myself) with whom she then went on to write and explore vocal expressions for six months. By summer 2008 the decision was made to proceed toward creating a work for which an original text, music, light and acoustic space were to be composed, resulting in the performance TB. Instead of music theater, we prefer to call it a >

MUSICAL FICTION WITHOUT SCIENCE. The four tales are bound by a condition that is hard to imagine: a world without human bodies. Out of many improvisations on the theme “not having a body”, four fantasy worlds emerged, each one accounting for another form of nonhuman existence, where humans are a thing of the past, and no longer central. None of these worlds is based on scientific or futurological insights. The stories neither fulfill the plots of science fiction—they don't project a utopian vision of future—nor do they sketch an apocalyptic end to this world. Our wish was to speculate about various destinies that involve the loss of humans, or their subtraction from this world, and about the motivations and implications that bodilessness could have for all-too-human concerns, for the care of the body and the self, sexual desire and reproduction, evolution and species companionship.


The first tale explores the bog, a rather sensitive habitat and ecosystem which stores organic deposits, from plants to human bodies. This wetland formed from acidic rains isn't only a marvel of nature reserved for geologists' interest; it is a peculiar, dark place, an efficient grave for preserving human bodies, with their organs, skin, flesh and hair staying intact over centuries. The medieval custom of sacrificing and burying human bodies so that their intestines might become signs for reading future from the ancient past, now known to us through the famous bog bodies such as Tollund Man or Lindow Man, aroused our interest. We sought to describe an environment in which organic matter subsists by remaining less. Or, to pose the same question from the human perspective: what would it be like to choose to die as a bog body and become one with a landscape?

The second tale gives a glimpse into a world that humans have abandoned to their best friends—dogs. The history of humans begins with hunting and farming, which would have never progressed towards civilization without taming wolves and recruiting them into human tribes. Dogs were domesticated according to a number of roles and services they could contribute to humans: guide dogs, utility dogs, assistance dogs, hearing dogs, therapy dogs, medical subjects, emotional slaves. The origin of the dog race is ambiguous: its short biological history doesn't clarify whether dogs were born by natural mutation of the wolves or by human manipulation, i.e. domestication. By in-breeding over the last three centuries, humans have engineered a limited variety of dogs based on the characteristics they desired to produce, which is necessarily coupled with a bouquet of hereditary diseases. If the last fifteen thousand years (a relatively brief period for the evolution of a race like dogs) have been marked as the age of the Under-Dog, could dogs experience a decolonization once their masters disappear? The encounter between the two dogs occurs in a broken rhythm of verbal aggressions or insults similar to the compulsive and obsessive dog behavior. It is a texted dialogue—i.e. set between a pair of whispering (“texting”) and a pair of speaking (“texted”) voices—that explores contradictory prospects: melancholy and the wish for death, the pride and victory of a canine evolution that can henceforth continue without humans.

The third tale unfolds the world of substitution, in which sexual differences are replaced by the difference between the bodiless and those who still have bodies, who are “bodiful”. This relationship between the bodiless and the bodiful, called “substitution”, descends from the trade formerly known as prostitution. In substitution, the bodiless are agents of desire; their desire consists of longing for the body they lost. It drives the bodiless to seek vicariously the physical pleasure in the sensations they aren't capable of—since they no longer have bodies—in those who can live out this pleasure immediately in their own bodies. The substitutes are the only beings who can still enjoy their bodies. They substitute for the bodiless, by doing and acting sensorial pleasure on their behalf. The very act is a kind of textual fucking, done without any physical contact, because physical contact, like touch, is, of course, impossible between a body and a non-body.


The invention of substitution was inspired by a wish to ennoble prostitutes and avenge their history of being contained in ghettos, pushed to the margins of the cities and locked up in dark and smelly cells. Now it is the substitutes who can grow, proliferate and expand in territory. They become ubiquitous—an extreme opposite to being tolerated as an indispensible, yet shameful exception to the rule of morality. This is why women's voices proliferate in number and languages here: they merge into each other, split or double in English, but also in––what is hardly audible––Russian, French, Japanese and Lebanese Arabic languages.

The bodies of substitutes grow obese, uncontainable and unimaginable. Their flesh turns into a foam made of a centillion of bubbles, one-cell organisms that explode into a centillion micro-orgasms. This process is similar to bacterial sex. It isn't a reproduction of a species, but of the particles of one being—the substitute.

At the moment when the force of break down is greater than the force of desire, substitutes experience their ultimate pleasure—a kind of heat death—and pass into dust. The fourth tale describes their transformation into dots, or particles of infinitely small mass, that can exist for a fraction of a second, or for a long time, between a septillion and an octillion years. The dot signifies a terminus of all life. It is a fantastic extra-being whose invention was inspired by the following questions: Would it be a relief not to have a body, not to feel its weight, mass and size? What would it be like to exist without the pain of the body? This is to advocate a movement out of this world into a rationalist conception of ideas and forms, of logic and geometry. Or, it might mean that we are just reaching the edge of our fantasy…



A THEATER WITHOUT BODIES.

As early as 1907, Edward Gordon Craig professed that “the actor must go”, so that “in his place comes the inanimate figure – the Übermarionette.” Only once, TB offers the image of two bodies, but their stage presence and liveness is uncertain, uncanny. It is unclear whether they are moved by light or move by themselves.
A bodiless world requires that theater send its proper body—the stage—on vacation. This entails a series of subtractions from the apparatus of theatrical representation:
No bodies = no live presence
No figure = no image
No tableau = stage no longer central
No dominance of vision = no clarity, transparency or stability

The only human organ left is the voice, but divorced from the bodies, an acousmatic voice whose power lies in demanding: “listen to me”. TB is a composition of, first and foremost, voices, differentiating between their color, number, texture and localization. Like the voices that move in space, thanks to the design of Peter Boehm, light and fog, designed by Sylvie Garrot, also make “apparitions” that move through the audience. The function of light and stage fog changes, through ambulant sculpture, from two dimensional screen to the architecture and material or the thickness and color of the air.

The main medium of this bodiless theater is music, composed by Cédric Dambrain in the first and second tale (“The Bog” and “Dogs”) and Terre Thaemlitz in the third and the fourth tale (“Substitution” and “Dots”). The music doesn't only support voices, but carries the main action, event and process in this performance, whose dramaturgy is guided through distinct sensations. By sensations we mean the embodied feeling of having perceptions, a recursive sense of one's body being affected by perception, without the distance of observation. We proceeded by evoking and synthesizing recognizable and more oblique, hybrid sensations, which would be engendered by music in the first place, and extended in light and space. These sensations are primarily characterized by movements and humors. “The Bog” consists of endless sinking in spirals, ever deeper and lower, from the warm to the cold, colorful to colorless. “Dogs” brings about movements that are chaotic, neurotic, born from a compulsion to move and aggress the other. “Substitution” builds from a harmonious stasis, expanding in heat waves that explode in cyclical “whoregasms”. “Dots” appear as a diminutive “tail” of “Substitution”, a pointillist echo of dissipation and dispersion of a myriad of voice-particles.

Two principles have guided us in unsettling the theatrical regime of senses and faculties in this performance. Firstly, to engage the imagination of the audience by fiction, we couldn't resort to the conventional apparatus of theater. Moreover, in order to compose a journey of sensations, not only is a new apparatus desirable; indeed, a single apparatus wouldn't be enough. Hence, the apparatus has to change. This is why we tried to shuffle and rearrange the components of the theatrical machine—music, light, space, voices, text and the way they address the audience—from one tale to the other. Each tale unfolds one or more situations in which the audience has to readjust its listening or vision. Secondly, the terminus of this performance are the bodies of its attenders. They are the site of sensations, whose intensity causes events. The bodies of the attenders remain a rare live presence that gives duration to the fictions they inhabit.
Bojana Cvejic






music / Eszter Salamon / TALES OF THE BODILESS / Substitution Pt. 4: Foaming (Extrait)
Eszter Salamon/ Bojana Cvejic (words) & Terre Thaemlitz (sound)
www. comatonse.com








www.kulturstiftung-des-bundes.de








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