There are a lot of things I'd like to say about Lemi Ponifasio's dance/theater/performance piece The Tempest: Without a Body and on the other hand I don't want to say much about it all except you should go see it and experience it for yourself. If you hear someone say they "liked" or "enjoyed" it, step away from them- they probably laughed at "A Serbian Film." It's a performance you experience and feel, not one you watch to be passively entertained. There are moments in it where I felt extremely uncomfortable and other that cut so close to the bone I almost wanted to leave. That's art, and it doesn't happen at this level very often, so go see one of the two remaining performances this weekend at YBCA.
However, there are some things I do want to comment on.
Tonight I saw one of the most terrifying, nauseating sights I've ever seen- a man walking around the stage on all fours. Not on his hands and knees, but on his hands and feet. The effect was like witnessing a human spirit so destroyed it's become nothing more than a domesticated cat or dog, pacing around, looking for its master/owner to feed it.
When the Angel let out her first dreadful scream of sheer anguish I came out of my seat. Tears formed in my eyes, and I realized I've been wanting to make that sound for a week now but can't. The screams kept coming at irregular intervals. She was alone on the stage the first time, but as the work went on, there were others present going on about their business as she screamed away. No one noticed, and I felt each scream became more tolerable, easier to bear, to the point where toward the end I had accepted the screams as part of the soundscape and they no longer terrified me as they did when I first heard them. How many analogies can you make for that? I don't even know where to start.
Before tonight the sight of man's naked, undulating ass has never turned me on. Before tonight.
I have to digest this show and I'll probably have more to say about it later, but for now, just go get a ticket. Goldstar has them, and there's a Q & A with Ponifasio after the Friday night show, that will be worth hearing based on his pre-performance comments tonight.
For now I'll end with this note from the program, taken from Walter Benjamin's Ninth Thesis on the Philosophy of History, and dedicate it to the Femme Fatale:
A Paul Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe that keeps piling ruin upon ruin and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm [tempest] is blowing from Paradise, it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This is what we call progress.