Jute Disintegration – After …

A bike across to Kreuzberg in the morning after some demonic infestations before breakfast, to pick up a very special camera from the darling Christian. Among other things, today was my first time using a proper DSLR (for those who drool, a Canon EOS 5D mkII, with 24-70mm lens). That in itself was enough to keep me occupied with discovering how a proper lens swings between depth of field sublimity and mayhem. I have to get one of these…

After last week, preparing this time was somewhat more orderly, though we moved everything but the sofas out of the space, and seemed to have more of everything, though taking up less space. The same group again, Antek, Andreas, Rui, Monica, Ursula, Hartmut, Dasniya, and myself. Me mostly being outside photographing and occasionally making something with the rope, Hartmut making tea (no, he is not Teapot), and the other six dealing with the table.

Dispensing with a warmup, once we’d got through costumes and makeup, and were sitting around the table discussing last and this week, come 17h the ‘audience’ promptly arrived. Very prompt.

We’d talked about having an hour or so on our own to get things going, and so expected their arrival around 18h, and for people to come and go more like in a gallery. So, taken by surprise and the number of people who wandered in right on time, and finding it being regarded more as a performance than installation, we decided in future we’ll never mention the time we’re starting at, just sticking to from when anyone should make an appearance.

It got off to a fast start then, being nothing like some nerves to focus attention. And yes, by 18h when we’d hoped people would show up, it was getting decidedly interesting, with two long ‘scenes’ dominating the final hour.

Maybe to mention the limitations, as this was a rehearsal of sorts. It would be really nice to do this in Uferhallen proper, the vast space and us populating it, giving a background that is both visually interesting, a very specific light from above combined with blue-grey, concrete, oily steel colours, as well as the void between us and it. This space is vital to be able to create some balance between absence and objects across all scales.

The lighting also is obviously not so nice. Even a few cans from above would pull focus and shape the room and action. A few more and that would be all that’s necessary to attain a heightened sense of otherness in what’s being observed. It doesn’t need a huge rig and multiple states, but it really does need attention to this.

And obviously hiring some baroque costume frippery and a grass floor (and the occasional goat) would round it out nicely.

We tried without any sound this time, just that of Hartmut making tea, and this also seemed to leave the room too empty, with nothing for us to sit on. It might be appropriate to mic the space and then process the audio so it’s not intrusive and somehow can be sensed to come from the room.

As for what went on, the performance, installation, the people in it … this was so qualitatively far from last week. There were some quite excellent arrangements, scenes, progressions, starting especially from when Rui mimicked Dasniya on the floor, both suspending one arm. This was about the end of the first hour, so it seems it does take that long to build a bit of mess in the space and get through the establishing of everything.

Ursula wandering out to have a cigarette, causing a few people to follow her to see what was going on … Rui tying Antek over the table while Ursula read from The Soft Machine, “cocks ejaculating, soap in asses, cocks shooting like fireworks in the sun …” and so on (I later swapped it for Negarestani’s Cyclonopaedia, which was even stranger), with Andreas, Dasniya and Monica sitting along the wall next to Hartmut – this scene went on for a while and became decidedly uncanny in its stillness with the text.

Antek remained there till the end, joined by others at various times, and in somewhat symmetry by two suspended at the other end of the table. Many other smaller things interspersed.

This then, was our first attempt at an anarchic unshibari installation/performance. There’s a lot we could continue with, and shambling towards putting it in a proper big space with all the required accoutrements would be very nice.

(And very many thanks to the unshibari-ists who spent the last two Sundays in a mess of ropes to try this all out!)