Over the whole 5 weeks, this performance was one I was most anticipating and extremely happy I was able to experience. Having missed Maria Hassabis presentation at Impulsetanz I was very happy to find it being shown in New York. Maria Hassabi makes performances for both dance and visual arts contexts, recently having a solo show at MOMA called Plastic. So it was very interesting to see how her works inhabit a performance space like The Kitchen.
It is hard to describe the work other than that of slow transitions between poses. But I will try to scan through my experience of the work from my notes.
Enter space, medium light, 4 performers on floor, centre, seating banks around, lush red carpet, clashing patterns on clothing, high fashion, white leather shoes, collages like clothing, silks/fine fabrics, bodies still, eyes blinking, one female performer facing us. rested on elbows, shelf-like, audience settles in, lighting stays same for while, then slow darning to focus central, a lighting/architectural intervention of sorts, all the theatres lights pulled into centre, sitting low above 4 performers, roughly 8×8 square of spotlights pointing to the centre, intensity increased (this will get f’in warm!!) aesthetic of repetition – minimal sculpture like. Wondering whether it was a statement, a form of critique of theatrical architectures? I know Hassabi has done this before in stagewoks – no sound present when entering or when lights dim, but can feel a presence of sound, sub-bass, sountrack minimal and very progressive ,composed by Marina Rosenfeld, 2mins nothing heard yet still definite change in acoustics from a subbass. The hour plus performance consists mainly of the four bodies, individually, machine-like shifts/transfer of weight to change positions, most commonly from ground to sitting up, holding positions equally pushing the strength and stillness and suspension to almost climax (show almost doesn’t have one as such), Images in no order such as; bathing, basking, sleeping, glamour poses, leg raises, crossed legs, embraces, stroking legs to rest on top, spooning, mm from kissing, confrontations, rejections from others, succeeding, seducing, suffering, yoga poses, staring down deep below the ground as sweat from performer drips off < shows actual time against their performative time, pelvis raised contorting body, images of pleasure, beginnings of standing but deciding not to. Back to sound, 3/4 components; sub-bass, waves/coastal, vocal fragments < these become significant almost markers of the performance, “uh” “muh” te” most ‘human’ component of the piece whilst watching the static objects/bodies, reminds of their life and re-examine them, we see struggles, mainly in Hassabi, tension is extreme and intense, lighting becomes a method for study of bodies and their 3-dimensionality, lighting rig, has constant rhythm of rise and drop for most then begins to explore directions and space, small/large circles of light, diagonals casting singular bodies alone in light< isolation of body very affective has only been a cluster till then, the sound and light create the performances form of climax, a slow build of the sub-bass mixed with the coastal noises, the sound becoming intense and resonating off all pieces of furniture and our own bodies, the performers still, sound rises for 3/4 mins, then cuts, nothing changes, 2mins pass, no sound present, lights drop quick fade sudden black out, audiences automatic response to applaud< only moment comfortable to, lights quickly rise, nothing has changed, bodies still still, its not finished? < she skillfully playing with preconceived ideas of theatre, another minute or two passes then house lights rise, we wait, still unsure, then the doors open the audience is comfortable leaving, many using this opportunity to photograph the performers, who are still there as they begin to be viewed as a sculptural form until the doors close.