DAY ONE: Tequila, Ropes, Tapes and Ghosts

octobre 2nd, 2013
Jacob Wren

I am at a swimming pool I have been at many times before. More specifically, it is a swimming pool that I associate with having no water. I am watching introductions. Before the introductions I was saying how many people in the audience I recognize, am sure I have either met or seen before, without knowing exactly who they are. I am wondering if this is how I will approach blogging for the next six days, small personal observations concerning my experience at the festival. Or if my approach will soon slip into something else. I have been making performances for almost twenty-five years but have never really felt part of any performance community, despite many loose offers of performative friendship from various scenes over the rolling years. I am still watching the introductions and the first performance is beginning and we are instructed to all ‘come into the pool.’ There is a wooden structure (difficult to describe) supporting a rope stretched between the two stands and we are standing around it. (*****Csenge Kolozsvári*****) As the performer stands on the rope I realize it is not a rope, more like a tape, a material I have seen before but cannot at the moment identify. Maybe something that firemen use. As she stands on it, it produces sound. Now I am thinking of balancing and what balancing means in life, when life is in and out of balance. Along with the sound produced by the tightrope there are four drumbeats that started and then stopped. Two drum beats. Balancing, falling off, getting back on, balancing, off, on, balancing, one drum beat. I wasn’t planning to describe the performances like this. The mind has a tendency to seek patterns and I am seeking patterns between the balancing and the sound. From where I’m sitting I can’t see clearly. The sound produced from the tightrope and the sound produced from somewhere else. There is a technical difficulty. We are stopping the performance and it will start again in two minutes. Before the performances began I drank a tequila and seven up (a drink I had never heard of before) and already it is giving me a slight headache. I am wondering if the four drum beats and the two drum beats were not intentional, were instead only part of the technical difficulty, and the mystery they provided me, in my attempt to find connection between the sound and movement, this mystery was only a happy accident. I am wondering if they should have stopped or instead should have kept going. Gone through the technical difficulty, made it part of the imperfect reality of the performance. I ask someone what went wrong and they think the flattened tightrope was supposed to trigger outside sounds that were apparently not quite being triggered. Everyone is talking and waiting for the performance to resume and I will now stop typing for a moment. Thinking of all the ways my life is currently out of balance. I always like it when things go wrong. For me live performance is almost entirely about the fact that something might go wrong. I am also wondering if I should edit this text or post it as is. I will stop typing now. I am jetlagged, barely slept last night, or for the past week, and the pool, as has happened before, takes on the slightly hallucinatory aspect of a not particularly surreal dream. Some people from the festival pass me and seem nervous I might be writing about the technical difficulty so I want to mention again how important it is for me that in a performance things can go wrong. Are allowed to go wrong. (“In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism.” – Hannah Arendt) I think the atmosphere in the room, in the waterless swimming pool, right now is completely great. Everyone is talking, waiting, charged – there is a great deal of anticipation and energy in the room. And the technical difficulty is now solved. The performer has one foot on the rope and a moment later is balancing, in balance and out. (*****Csenge Kolozsvári*****) I know for a fact I could not balance like that even for a moment. The balancing produces sound. Jumping off the tape is a very specific sound, almost cartoon-like. All these sounds are hollow, produce echo, balancing on the edge of a cave. The jumping off sound is my favourite. I am sweating and wonder why. I want to try to describe the jumping off sound and don’t know why I can quite find the right word. Something to do with vibration. Each time she jumps off it gets louder. The line between staying on and falling off becomes more precarious with an increase of echo, of cave-ness, cave-less-ness echo. Now I am watching the tape-rope vibrate each time she jump-falls off. The balancing soon has another aspect for me, something closer to unpleasant. Sound, echo, falling and balancing. I realize how few words I have to describe unfamiliar sounds. Unfamiliar sounds become louder with more panic. Do we want to stay on or are we willing to panic and fall. More echo. Falling and falling and jumping off or on with less and less control, out of balance, and trying to stay on. A shadow in an echo chamber of itself. Ending in exhaustion. Loud ricocheting sounds. One hundred sledgehammers bouncing off one hundred drums. Second performance. At a podium with a microphone. (*****Bartolomé Ferrando*****) I don’t understand French so miss the introduction. I’m a bit far away and a soft, bluish, hazy light makes everything seem off in the distance. Pieces of paper (or something) up his nose, producing sounds. More white things up his nose or stuck to his face. More sounds, vocalizations, like an official speech in an unknown animal language. The audience who are sitting closer are laughing at something I can’t quite see. The sound, the nonsense, always bordering on something closer to speech, with a kind of animal meaning, more white things stuck to his face forming almost a scattered beard. What kinds of words could I use to describe the sounds he is making. And then one word I get: VIVA! VIVA! other animal word-strange-sounds and then again VIVA! VIVA! VIVA! VIVA! art action. As the audience applauds pulling the beard off his face piece by piece. Maybe these are poems. (I hear the word poem in his second French introduction.) He is most likely explaining what we will see next. Something is being handed out to the audience but it is dark on the audience and I can’t quite see what. The audience is now waving what was handed to them, kleenex or napkins, some light has come on in the crowd and is now fading again. A joke in French and the audience laughs. But I get one word (répétition) and realize he is suggesting a rehearsal, the rehearsal is the entire audience blowing their noses in unison, he says do it again with more force and they do. Some lines of a poem (what language?), blowing of noses, lines (what language?), blowing, lines, blowing, etc. The blowing of all audience noses as the refrain. I’m remembering a Pessoa poem in which he says the one thing all of humanity has in common is we have all experienced the common cold. (Or perhaps it was a poem I wrote in my youth badly inspired by Pessoa.) Memory is faulty and we have reached the second intermission, a second break, would more tequila-seven up have a positive or negative effect on my remaining time in the empty pool. I wonder if, instead of sitting here clutching my computer, I should go talk to someone. More to drink, talk to someone, or sit here continuing to alternate between typing and staring into space. A pact with myself that for the next five days I will attempt to write more sparsely. Who needs all these words. Jet lag words. Swimming pool words. The term ‘blogging’ always conjures in my imagination millions and millions of words that no one will ever read. Next performance. Standing flat against the wall, just out of sight from where I’m sitting. (*****Camila Vasquez*****) I move to the other side of the pool. Some movements, back against the wall, looking up, quickly down to the floor (once again I can’t see), on the floor looking up, looking back, slow and quick movements. Bending over, folded in two, looking back, up, poised as if waiting, as if the earth was about to shake. Movements that suggest nervousness. Tentative steps. Reaching as if hanging off a branch or stretching or a statue if a statue could be nervous (nervousness with grace.) What are these steps? What do they remind me of? A slow motion but what I’m really feeling is that something is about to happen, always about to happen, in every moment of life something about to happen and in this sense of the word ‘about’ there is poetry. (I am now drinking a second tequila, headache be damned.) Reaching up, looking up, I like this particular quality of silence and attention in the room. Looking away from me, always looking somewhere, looking up, moving with a certain careful intentionality. On the floor looking up. This looking up reminds me of balancing. Slow movements then sudden movements. Again something animal. Crouched in a ball. Stillness, poise. Nervousness with grace. I didn’t read anything about any of the performances beforehand and a moment of context might be useful here, a moment I am unable to provide for myself or for the reader (who most likely won’t get this far in my overly long text.) Walking into the audience and applause. Standing behind the audience as they applaud. Performer back for a second time. A huge wad of ropes. (*****Bartolomé Ferrando*****) Turning in a circle. Shaking each rope, bouncing it up and down, before tossing it on the ground. Dropping some, tossing others. Tossing and tossing until all the ropes are on the ground. A microphone and animal sounds. Voices from another world, high pitched voices. A medium for a world of panicked spirit animals. Ghost voice poems. Talking to the ropes on the ground, lecturing for them. In the other room a dog howls in response. Lecturing to the ropes faster and faster. Explaining to the ropes, explaining what? There are so many things one must explain to these ropes with the voices of the otherworldly ghost animals. The evening started with a rope and ends with many ropes. Started with a tape rope tight between two posts and ends with many loose ropes on the ground, smaller ropes set free yet held back by the lectures meant to educate them. I had no professors, but if I had I would have imagined them a bit like this. They would be the professor and I would be a rope on the ground (I suppose this is why I avoided them, had none.) An audience of ropes on the ground and an audience of artists in the pool. Turning in circles because the ropes surround him. Tomorrow night I promise less typing and more reflection. Tomorrow night no tequila. Nervousness with grace.

4 réponses

  1. Claudine dit :

    I read the post to the end! Bartolomé was speaking in no real language (except when introducing): his performances were based on phonetic vocals. Very strong work for me, playful and simple.

  2. Nadège dit :

    If I could – but I can’t because I am not in Montreal – I would offer you a third tequila seven up so you could continue this delirium forever.
    Bottom’s up!

  3. Catherine dit :

    A night with lines.

    I thought at some point that Bartholomé was READING the ropes. As if they were the text to be articulated, both with his voice and body. For me that was quite beautiful.

  4. alx dit :

    Yes, Bartolomé was « reading » the ropes. Like random phonetics dropped on the wall. Low and hi frequencies going in every directions. Chaotic sound waves. Beautifull.

Laisser une réponse