Aeon | What Is Important to Me
Working on a wasteland in Berlin with Lisa Densem, Joséphine Evrard, Laura Siegmund
I am an artist and a writer. I work with movement in a relational sense, I try to give it space. I am not looking for forms or figures or modes of expression or body languages. I am not interested in body movements per se or their design, but in bodies in their spatiality, in their purest possible exposure, that is, sensual openness to their surroundings.
I understand Joséphine, Laura and Lisa as independent artists who, with their skill, experience, intuition and sensitivity, create references to the space, to the text and to those who are there with them as an audience.
In Aeon I work with text for the first time in this intensity: All three performers are moved by a text. Nevertheless, the point is not that texts are presented here. For two reasons: Laura, Lisa, Joséphine do not speak texts, but expose their respective singular reference to the text. This reference ranges from inner listening (Laura, who uses the memorized text as a soundtrack for her movement) to clear addressing (Joséphine) via detachment and multiple "telecommunication" (Lisa, who receives "the voice" the text talks about as if from outer space and whose own voice can be heard everywhere on the wasteland via the radio connection).
The other thing is that, for me, the space and the text are very intimately related. I go into certain spaces – physically with my body and with writing I go into imaginary spaces. Walking and writing is extremely close for me.
So the space that is being spoken in now is not the backdrop for speaking bodies. It is rather that we move in the landscape and respond to it speaking/moving, in places and along paths that in turn come from the landscape. It is a constant back and forth, as if space and language were uncannily close and almost confusingly related. It is not first the text and then the space in which it is shown. It's also not the space first and then I write a text for it. They are really equally important and somehow they are the same thing, two sides of the same thing.
Experiencing space has a lot to do with simultaneity. What is supposed to happen should happen as simultaneously as possible, not one after the other. I'm interested in a poetics of space, if that's the pleasure of references here and now, rather than a dramaturgy of time. I'm not very concerned with what follows one another and how; I don't think in terms of scenes and actions. What I find interesting is to be in a certain place and there very close to something and to see something distant at the same time. This distance (the one in space, but also the one between the close feeling, hearing, and the far seeing) is for me the source I want to open.
In my work, the relationship to the audience is also spatial-physical-relational. As a visitor, you can walk around and approach Joséphine, Laura, Lisa, walk with them or watch them from a distance, etc. – you can find the way of watching/listening/participating that suits you; being in the space, experiencing it, relating to the performers as you wish is part of being an audience here. I don't prescribe the approaches and I don't work on the expectations (neither do I serve them nor do I fight them, I just want to start or get somewhere else, where they haven't formed yet or can dissolve and spring anew). There is no right or wrong here in how one sees or hears or feels something. There are invitations from me/us, but also surprises from those who come – some visitors discover ways of participating that I and we would not have thought of.
For me, the space is the specific space in which something happens. I have to and want to work in the space where the visitors also come to. When you're working outside, that's possible. We worked for a long time on the wasteland in Landsberger Allee. No studio. That's important, that changes everything. Everything becomes much more real. I want to feel an environment, I want it to attract me and communicate to me. I want to work with reality.
And with the imagination. The crucial thing about Aeon is the simultaneity of the real space and the imaginary. The texts, all describing or calling upon landscapes, areas, to speak and embody out here, is the really new thing for me. There's something happening that I didn't anticipate. It's very hard to speak poetic texts in real space (and not in the seclusion of the theater space, which was, after all, built for performance) – and it is, when it works, a revelation. I don't yet know exactly what it is about it that excites me so much, but it has something to do with the fact that between what is there, what you see and hear and in which you are with your senses, and the space of the text that you imagine, into which you immerse yourself, into which the speaking voice pulls you along, in-between the outside and the inside something else opens up, some other level, a state of limbo, a trip most likely – that was new to me, I hadn't known that before.
Joséphine, Laura and Lisa each do three very different things with the text, the space, the time and the audience.
Joséphine walks a path and you can walk with her. She talks as she walks, she stops or sits down. You decide for yourself where to join her.
She speaks the German version of the text Die Straße. Her path leads most of the time over the hill that closes the wasteland to the south. Joséphine does not repeat her path, she always walks somewhere else in her area.
Laura is on the other side of the wasteland, on the remains of parking spaces. She moves ongoing for a long time from a specific state, she follows her specific and deep listening. Her references are the concrete environment – the asphalt floor, the six-lane road, the air with its temperature here and now; and the text Die Nackte Erde. She listens to this text, which she knows inside and out, as a soundtrack all the time. Every now and then, much like an arm lifts or a head turns, the channel opens and you hear her speak aloud.
Lisa is in the middle of the wasteland, she speaks the text The Swamp in English and you hear her through radio headphones that have a long range. With the headphones you can move how you want – you can go closer to Lisa or very, very far away. There are 12 headphones. Lisa moves slowly over a long distance. She speaks a long text and she loops, when she's done she starts again. She is in what she is doing and how she is doing it, in an area between inside and outside, between state and addressing, between speaking and moving, between Joséphine and Laura.
One can schematize the references of the three, they are three different trips:
Laura - listening/embodying - silence: I dive into her movement, the movement pulls me in and flows out into the vastness, inside and outside become permeable, a very dense silence opens, detaches itself from the street and the noise.
Lisa - tele-reception - vastness: the voice creeps into my head, the moving body moves away, becomes fragile even when it is close, an immense distance begins to become real, detached, spaced out, encompassing the whole vast space where Lisa is.
Joséphine - Addressing - Encounter: I am completely with her and through the closeness, the intense encounter, the extremely present speaking out of the body and the immediate reference to the earth, a being elsewhere emerges.
The texts belong to a cycle I wrote in the summer of 2019, there are 12 in total, three are used here: The Street, The Swamp, The Naked Earth. All are the same in structure and all are about areas where we will go and a voice that tells us so.
One of the most beautiful discoveries of this work is the affective power of personal pronouns. There is a very strong recurrence of we, they, I in the texts, but they are all indefinite, i.e. not assigned to concrete characters. The personal pronouns are very open and change depending on where and when and to whom they are said. I, we, they become so much more forces than designations, and with each time they are said, a different reference, a new quality, a new "we" or "they" emerges – especially in relation to the audience, which also appears in them.
Addressing and time: Joséphine, Laura and Lisa already speak and move before someone arrives. They are not activated by the appearance of the audience and they do not only appear when someone is there. They speak even before that. For whom? To whom?
All three have texts that talk a lot about those who are not there. „They“ are not defined, it is not said who they are who are not there. The dead, the unborn, those who will come tomorrow, those who were there yesterday, those who are elsewhere, those who live in the buildings across the street, those who are now shopping in the furniture store next door, those who sit in the cars and drive by, those who will be here after us, the people and the others. It is all those who are not here.
Speaking (and also writing), as I feel and understand it, is always also addressed to those who are not there, the others. With all affection and devotion it perceives and addresses those who are here and now. But it always has an open side for those who are not. It relates the two to each other.