MR Festival 2008: Clean Slate Yvonne Meier, Stolen

by Jenn Joy
MR Festival Spring 2008: Somewhere Out There

Darkness. Gym lights up, two tinfoil covered pods resting on the floor under the basketball hoop. Performing an almost absurd migration across the gym floor through a slow progression of twitches and tics, their approach and retreat is amplified by the crackling sound score of the foil. The duet (Meier and Aki Sasamoto) approach and retreat as if the sculptural objects are attracted to and repulsed by each other. The metallic surfaces reflect a series of distorted views of the surrounding space, reminding me of Robert Morris’s series of mirrored boxes, which by virtue of refraction appear to almost disappear into the space. Yet, these playful pods remain mobile and visible, their mirrored elements too crumpled to accomplish a seamless mirroring.

Interrupting the sculptural dance, Arturo Vidich enters with bamboo rods twisting and turning around the now stiller pods or perhaps rock-like objects. Twirling through this surreal landscape, his movements dislodge the foil from the pods revealing the crawling dancers on the floor. Fighting for their cloaks of invisibility, Meier eventually rises and the pieces of foil become flags and then are unceremonious stuffed into the basketball hoop. (A nice reminder of the sweaty idiosyncrasy of the space within which we are watching.) As the two battle with the foil, Sasamoto crawls toward a black bag dragging back an orange extension cord wrapped around her head that becomes a cord that forces the dancers to keep dancing–flinging them toward to audience, catching them in its tension. Once entangled they are allowed to rest. Yet the other dancers’ attempt to prevent this, forcibly contorting against the imperative of the bind.

In the end, the cord is used to tie Vidich to a table with which he dances with it strapped on his back. He steps and staggers, performing a refrain of precarious almost falls, his virtuosic back bending directed by the moving material on which he is to land. Finally he lands, his arms and legs curled on top in a kind of strangled bug-like gesture. Meier and Sasamoto stand at oblique angles in the space each holding ropes tied to the table legs. In the final moment they count and pull together. Restrained by the extension cord, Vidlich falls to the ground amidst the broken table.

What is stolen within this piece? Is it the ability to elide visibility and recognition? Or to perform as self-directed entity? The objects themselves take on an animistic quality, seeming to almost take over control from the dancers. Perhaps like Beckett’s Molloy, we must cultivate objects, collect them, play with them, in order to come know something of our own subjectivity. Or perhaps as Molloy states we need these objects to quiet the murmurs in our head, the constant streaming sound score of daily life. “To restore silence is the role of objects.”

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