[An iCoDaCo review by Zsuzsanna Komjáthy]
“>>It<< makes a move. >>It<< could be a man, a woman, a louse, an elephant.”
Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari
It will come later – after seeing the latest work-in-progress performance of iCoDaCo in Budapest, this title makes me wonder: what might come later? The premiere, the moment we recognise a message behind, the dance itself, or something else?
What might come later? What might be hiding behind, or rather, between and beyond the words? What does ‘it’ mean?
The questions are tempting yet challenging to answer, as the field where we can seek for the explanation – i.e. both the environment that is evolving onstage and the context wherein the whole project is embedded – is a transforming space that does not have an exact, final shape. Moreover, it is an ephemeral, precarious mutability, “a becoming-space of the body, and a becoming-body of space, a becoming-thing of the organic, a becoming-organic of things.” (Lepecki 2016: 181.)
On the level of iCoDaCo project, ‘it’ engages itself in a critique towards the concept of interculturality that stems from island-premiss, and relies on “the separatist character of cultures” (Welsch 1999). Instead, the project proposes the concept of transculturality that proclaims that “authenticity has become folklore” (Welsch 1999) and entails a more hybrid and constantly forming approach (becoming-space) both on the macro-level of conceptualizing and on the micro-level of working.
It is not unintended that Israel Aloni, the leading producer of iCoDaCo, suggested ‘Transformations’ as a working title. Here, six artists from four different countries that faced with a serious social challenge at the beginning of the project in 2016 (the fundamental principles of democratic model has shaken somehow) meet and share their energies to bring a virtual level of creation to existence. They gear together and compose a new surface that has neither a starting nor an ending point – only the middle.
‘How do you make decisions?’ I ask them.
‘Collectively,’ answers Imre Vass and laughs. I laugh back at him, however, I know, it must be true.
‘We do not work separately on our own. Regarding the creating process, we do everything together. We start floating our ideas, and see how they develop. Sometimes, one movement transforms into something new and we are surprised and flattered like children. We experiment, and then we see’ explains Lee Brummer (not with these exact words).
Besides this permanently renewable democracy of creating, the milieu as the environment of creating also changes constantly. All the participants spend two weeks in each other’s native country and through workshops, work-in-progress performances, artist talks and so on, they engage with the local people. By each gathering, at each stage, the production transforms and develops by the effects and experiences.
So we can say, that on each plane of creating:
1th plane: macro level of context (countries);
2th plane: micro level of context (locations);
3th plane: macro level of creating (working),
there are similar assemblages in the proximity, and the only ‘fixed’ line that intersects them is transformation itself. It is a ‘following’ approach (i.e. it engages in a continuous variation of variables), where planes intersect each other through transformations to form a shared, smooth surface. This process points toward an abstract labour, a vortical flow or an itinerant line that always escapes from us when we try to define it.
But what might ‘it’ mean on the level of performance? What might lie/hide/escape in the middle of the 4th stratum (micro level of creating)? – A kind of danger, one might say and s/he would be certainly right as ‘it’ feeds from that becoming-space that we endeavoured and failed to name above.
In the middle of the middle, there is a white, semi-transparent curtain hanging on the stage.
‘Watching the performance I tried to unravel the whole time what might the role of the curtain be’ – says Dorottya Albert (dance critic), a guest of the work-in-progress performance, and her words made me wonder. Is the curtain symbolizing that ‘it’? Or being exterior to resemblance, is ‘it’ the curtain itself?
For me, the curtain assigns that ‘itinerant line’ (or ‘line of flight’) that I have referred to above. It connects, mobilizes and sometimes obscures events that are developing onstage, and creates “indivisible distances that are ceaselessly transformed, and cannot be divided or transformed without their elements changing in nature each time”. (Deleuze–Guattari 1987: 31-33.)
In this ceaselessness, there are the six dancers moving or rather being “moved by some thing”. (cf. Lepecki 2016: 60-70) The movements are strange, quite apersonal and obsessed as if they did not belong to the performers exactly. As if they were constantly being overwritten by the becoming-thing they convey, and in parallel, as if they were also overwriting that becoming that bears them.
Sometimes, the performers shudder in cramp performing subordinated muscle-statues that are seemingly moved by against their will. In other cases, they coagulate (even though distorted) trying to be that intensity that make thing(s) happen. What could that all mean? Where does this conjunction point to?
Following André Lepecki’s argumentation on understanding “being moved by a thing”, we can say that this process might mark a point of singularization. A critical move that glimmers on the edge of subjectivity, and opens up a more radical assemblage in proxy: a moving-towards-impossibility, or a moving towards moving-as-thing.
But this, as far as I know, will come later. Moving-as-thing will come later. Once it is here, we can say that we have transformed into that beast or that machine that can dance gracefully. Since the goal might have always been this: to dance gracefully.
André Lepecki. Singularities: Dance in the Age of Performance. New York: Routledge, 2016.
Wolfgang Welsch. Transculturality – the Puzzling Form of Cultures Today in Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World, ed. by Mike Featherstone and Scott Lash, London: Sage 1999, 194-213. <http://www2.uni-jena.de/welsch/papers/W_Wlelsch_Transculturality.html, 01/12/2018.>
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1987.
Makers – performers: Lee Brummer, Mui Cheuk-Yin, Eddie Ladd, Joseph Lee, Weronika Pelczyńska, Imre Vass. Music: Gosheven. Dramaturgy: Gwyn Emberton & Israel Aloni. Costume Design: Hanka Podraza. Set & Space Design: Simon Banham. Lights: Kathrine Sandys. Tour management: Kristian Rhodes. 24/04/2019, Trafó House of Contemporary Arts. The text was published firstly here.