noun: naturalism 1. (in art and literature) a style and theory of representation based on the accurate depiction of detail. 2. the philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted. 3. (in moral philosophy) the theory that ethical statements can be derived from non-ethical ones.
Premiered in September 2015 at ZKM Theatre in Zagreb, a dance work titled GLACIERE was virtuously performed by its own authors: Zagreb based dancer and performer Silvia Marchig, now Berlin based dancer and performer Sonja Pregrad, young now Stockholm based dancer and performer Pavle Heidler and with collaboration of a pianist Ana Horvat. With immediate profiling the living (as in living and working) bases of the artists I want to open my first round of thinking about this dance piece that occupies a space of not just a shared authorship and performativity but also of a shared trajectories of migration.
Stopping for a second to figure out how to approach this question: from Zagreb point of view – where I saw the work, or from Berlin point of work – where I am writing this now, there is already an impetus of a self curated focus of approaching it, without a possibility of presenting a rounded-up answer to it. Which is then already a partial answer; multiple layers of reading the work that is through mere movability of its departuring point diligent enough to offer a wide brushed curiosity. Missing to see a premiere performances of the work in September, due to my own premiere that happened a few days later, I am seeing it in another round of staging, on a Tuesday evening in late December of 2015. The typical premiere excitement surrounding the work is now far gone and I am more than happy to see the work in its raw exposure. There are some types of works you don’t want to spoil with obligatory socializing around it – you want to have the work for yourself, like going to the cinema alone with your thoughts.
By entering performative space with performers already there, stretching, preparing, with tech neon lights on, in narrow black box theatre, it is at this point not more then entering a sort of a rehearsal studio that could be anywhere; Berlin, Stockholm, Ljubljana, New York. Black T-shirts and comfy-pants, piano in the corner, the die-hard audience, the concentration, the drift. And exactly this generic set up, universality of this mise-en-scène, opens a widest possible reading of the work, which is its strongest point. In a firm distancing from a décor of any kind, from induction of any kind, from explanatorism of any kind, we witness a work that is positioned in itself, in its inner momentum, in its core. And the core inner momentum of this generic supra-positioning is the moving (as in migrating) artist himself – with his layers of different contextual lives that he has to digest years through, with his inner world that he keeps re-entering endlessly, with his establishing and erasing gesture that keeps filing and emptying this space of all-space and any-space simultaneously. Referential points are then thereby lost in a smallest fragment possible because their stability is no longer needed anyhow and instead of offering us comfort of the mutual, Sonja, Pavle and Silvia are tabling up the adventure of the confusion, of the misunderstanding, but so insignificant that is even not worth discussing about – we are just there together.
The piece warms-up slowly, like in a slow cooker, concerned by its own optimal timing and intensity that counts on audience’s trust in an experienced chef that knows his spices. Just when we made ourselves acquainted with the neon set-up, the staging changes in to the theatrical realm by introducing a fourth performer – the theatre light itself as a strong co-player (designed and operated by talented Saša Fistrić). Spanning the light palette from the black-box dramatic theatricality (sometimes to the quite unexpected extent) to the simple small-lamp solutions, Saša understood this performance as a landscape that can be freely disturbed by the light impact without the anxiety of destroying its momentum. Under this black-exploded circumstances, the piece develops further and ongoing, in to the territory that almost poses a question from the Paweł Althamer’s work Common Task: “Where do we come from and what are we doing here?”
Fluid, random sequences are following each other in sort of hypnotic hygiene of the black empty space, filled with unfinished sentences, excerpts from some books, encounters with objects and bodies (bodies that are here also not more than objectual), soft movement dialogs with surfaces or imagined sculptures, not-so-important tasks and goals, unrecognizable songs and attempts without a cause. All this introduced actions are producing a constant unwished reality-check in a form of a space echo – be it from the hard wooden floor that is louder than wished for, or from the opening and closing of windows, or squeaking of chairs and objects that are being stumbled upon. Witnessing this tapestry of accidental naturalism or naturalism without a recipe, the work reaches its peak momentum in simultaneously revealing and hiding traces of its being made, of its being performed.
It is this very naturalism that is elevating this work to its mastery, the very materialism of its performative circumstances that are in an unexpected manner raising a question about the sheer complexity of the dance medium in itself. And about its own indistinctability that makes it such easy prey for all possible toxic and dead-pan boring utilitarian agenda. The distinctability of the indistinctible is a flag manifesto of this work, destroying in a grand manner a flat-rate tendencies of a “remarkable” as cheap surrogate of substantial and meaningful.
GLACIER closes on an open note, with a strange asymmetrical small laughter both from the performers and close sitting audience, unsure about the moment of its ending. “Is this the end or can it go further?” asks the piece, as in “Can we stop at all or is it already continuing?”. Silvia, Sonja and Pavle delivered thereby a sturdy and autonomous work that makes you go silent out of the theatre space, like anything is possible (yet).
About dance performance GLACIER by Silvia Marchig, Sonja Pregrad and Pavle Heidler, that premiered on 16th of September 2015 at ZKM Theatre in Zagreb. Written by: Marjana Krajač