Ils ont nourri nos yeux […eles alimentaram os nossos olhos]*
[too much forewords]
Dance is maybe one of the most ephemeral art though visual arts (both 2 and 3 D) have being presenting us with several projects of a kind – where longing or/and surpassing, the present time is no more an order of recognition for Art as a dominant value.
Ephemeral – the concept – in different Arts is a huge discussion, which has been uniting and dissociating researchers, but mainly the very own authors and artists, when they [themselves] are telling us about this subject and their ideas are expressed in their own works. Using other words, this main goal for some creations that not necessarily will last – as a material stuff - reunite and dissociate different protagonists on a certain “conceptual stage in our mind”, when reading, seeing, listening or crossing these feelings around. And for some ones being mad about it, I mean spectators at a theater as well as those who visit an exhibition.
Maybe not so many people enjoy knowing and seeing Dance – and remark, I write “enjoy”, not “like” or “appreciate” dance – so much as they like and want to see an exhibition, a video screening or a performance sequence. For sure, performance is a tricky word when confronting the meaning it grabs, considering we are connected the arguments concerning the visual arts or the performing arts.
Fortunately if you attend to a review of the audience for dance in Portugal, from the nineties (last century) towards nowadays, there is a remarkable difference. Namely, before the Museum was built, I recall the performing arts program held by and at Fundação de Serralves since those years. We got used to see dance pieces at the House, commissions were addressed to Portuguese young choreographers and many debates, workshops and thematic cinema cycles took place. One of the responsible for it is Cristina Grande (sometimes working with António Pinto Ribeiro, in other projects with Rita Castro Neves, for instance). By then, Dance was not very widespread as we well know, most of the people connected it and mistaken it with the single implication of ballet. Maybe because we are not acquainted with the History of Dance or the critic thought (and writing) about it during the our Education – from primary school until we finish High School how many time have any teacher showed us any dance piece – image or video registration – or talked about it? I believe that few or none at all. Concerning visual arts there is a huge difference: the highlights of paintings, sculpture or icons from the architectural heritage are translated into images and transmission of some references, knowledges. There is no tradition in approaching, towards dance in any syllabus I can recall. But let us overcome this issue.
Sometimes people ask me sometimes, after being present at the presentation of a dance piece: what does it mean? The same question is addressed to many of us when visiting an exhibition or even after the screening of a video, for instance. It’s remarkable how the ownership of meaning - confronting the relation to a work of art - is such a thing for people (when an approach to the concept of audience and/or public). And some persons connect this question with a kind of dogma as if feeling/reason/expression of liking or disliking was the main issue. I mean in a sense of empathy, of Einfühlung taken as the only criteria applied and for the evaluation of an art piece. I both like and I find objective, rational and conceptual reasons for considering/saying the piece Autointitulado is a great work. How can the appreciation of dance take place? Is it possible to “grab” an audience for contemporary [nowadays] dance in the early development of a person? Is it important, we might wonder and why. When considering someone that is getting an education at a dance academy (ballet): will that person “love” for dance last? Considering the incorporation of both clichés and expectations about a future in academic dance? All these ideas are subsumed in the piece Autointitulado (Self title).
At stage: what happens there with both dancers/choreographers and what are we prepared or allow ourselves to receive from this dance piece? What ideas can we achieve or ensure.
The sound registrations held in the street and public places, take the part of focusing in “reality”, present time. The images registrations held in different cities during a summer holidays travel the clichés around the side and make us laugh or stand still. There is no apparent connection between the sounds (which is not a music score) and the video images.
The two screens are open making na almost square angle and only of the screen show the projection. It is double faced but one of the faces is blank. Aside there it is the hanger [bengaleiro] a remark about M. Duchamp’s ready-made, considering the very own dance piece in itself is a sort of reply to that concept subverting “ready-made” ideas about dance in occidental society.
I suppose it is different to perform at a Museum of Contemporary Art Auditorium comparing to other cultural locations. I thought of the dance piece as developed in a “comparaison”, in confrontation with the concept of an expographic subject – I mean the layout of the works at an exhibition or even the very own installation and so on. I saw the dance piece as a hole, a global image of the stage nourished by the two dancers as a sort of figures at a landscape (the stage as landscape, seen a bit from afar, because they appear sometimes as though overcoming their condition of dance-persons, representing the citizens of a breaking/broken world. They are so much involved with the dance itself that it contains anonymous tradition of dance surmounted in this double dialogue. In their dialogue figures the dance tradition falling and at the same connected by their invisible (and recognizable) quotations from dance history as well as references from literature, visual arts or cinema. Thankfully, dance is indeed an urgent cultural matter, either some person might agree, like it or not…
Dance can mean [for the audience in general] the building of meaningless development, sorted by “rational percepts”; the configuration of different personal vocabularies (by choreographers and creators)…Indeed it might shape so many syllabus which are broad enough to make us flow over, reject, come back over and over again, recognize or land in the areas of psychosocial commitment towards the society. [« De même le somnambule accepte les fantaisies que l’on voudra. Il se souvient et n’imagine pas, n’a que des sensations quand il croit penser. » [In Flaubert, Bouvard et Pécuchet (1880). In http://flaubert.univ-rouen.fr/oeuvres/bouvard_et_pecuchet.php?imp=1p.78] Memories, remembrances might display an important role when connecting the fragments that compose this dance piece, allowing us to project in it our own.
[take five and final (…thanks God you might think…)]
In a text where both authors narrate their main ideas concerning this Autointitulado we can read, they compare themselves with the aims, the project held, developed by literary characters “Bouvard et Pécuchet, created bt the french nineteen century writer Gustave Flaubert: “…De forma semelhante, a compreensão das danças que pensamos ter reconhecido e os híbridos que criamos acoplando-as umas as outras, produzem monstros coreográficos. (…) A espécie de dueto tragicamente cómico que podemos por vezes incorporar presta homenagem aos personagens do romance de Flaubert.”**
[“Quelle bassesse que de penser toujours au prolongement de son existence ! La vie n’est bonne qu’à la condition d’en jouir. — « Encore un morceau ? » — « Je veux bien. » — « Moi de même ! » — « À ta santé ! » — « À la tienne ! » — « Et fichons-nous du reste ! » Ils s’exaltaient.” Flaubert, Bouvard et Pécuchet. In http://flaubert.univ-rouen.fr/oeuvres/bouvard_et_pecuchet.php?imp=1, p. 29 ]
And I can also recall another two characters, created by Samuel Beckett…Mercier et Camier (1970)***. Them too/two… also that invite us towards a journey into nameless places, unknown locations, going forward always and again.
*Texto escrito em inglês, atendendo a que foi baseado nas minhas anotações, quando da “conversa pós-espectáculo” que se desenvolveu em inglês, atendendo à nacionalidade de Cyriaque Vilemaux.
** I respect the Portuguese writing, not translating it. We can read the whole text in the flyer produced at CCB/Lisboa.
*** See Samuel Beckett, Mercier et Camier, Paris, Éd. Minuit, 2006.