TO BE OR NOT TO BE, THAT IS THE QUESTION
Where does transgression happen? How does critique perform?
Small Projects is an art-space in Tromsø, Norway operated by the philipine artist Jet Pascua. A performance by the brasialian performance-group Como Clube is announced to start wednesday evening at 22. We arrive 20 minutes too early. The doorway is covered by a colorful plastic curtain we have to pass through. In the front room a woman is lying on the floor, operating a computer and whispering into a microphone. The handwritten portugese text on the walls suggest some kind of revolutionary manifestos and there is a series of mildly surreal collages in poster-format and two or 3 videos playing. The atmosphere is loose, sensual and inviting. The next space works as kind of open-ended wardrobe / back-stage dressing-room where 2 or 3 persons are dressing up to glamour. The last space is a bar. Here another couple of boys in dresses and glittery make-up serves the cheepest beers in town. There’s a loose expectation in the air; we are too early, but maybe the performance is already going on. Maybe this it. I buy a beer and my 3 collegues takes a curious, distracted gaze at the exhibition and leaves. I find a corner, inspecting one of the videos, determined to at least finish my beer before leaving for my hotel.
Slowly more people arrive, and slowly the very loose performative acts gets louder, more dense. Large parts of the crowd are costumed to various degrees and I can’t really figure out who is performing and who just took the dressing-room as an invitation to boost the evenings wear a bit. There’s several bearded guys with heavy make-up and a big guy in full sami-outfit with purple glitter lines across his face. A brazilian guy with a black afro and big black beard is wearing a tradititonal sami-kofte over orange silk-stockings and stillettos. Both gender and cultural/tribal markers are blended in a carnivalesque mix. After awhile the music starts pumping and 5 or 6 performers are slithering and sliding around the floor in a kind orgiastic wrestling. The big sami-guy is in the corner beating a traditional sami drum, delievering a steady ground beat to the seasick, electronic mix of brazilian disco. The microphone is handed from one to another and a kind of erotic karaoke takes form; a large blond girl, dressed all in white is reciting the Hamlet-mantra over and over on top a heavy beat, while she is sliding around with the other bodies on the floor. TO BE OR NOT TO BE, TO BE OR NOT TO BE, TO BE OR NOT TO BE: THAT IS THE QUESTION. Other persons join the swarm of bodies and the ryhtm spreads to the audience. Who is inside and who is outside of the performance? The fourth wall is evaporating and you have the feeling that whoever wants, can join the performers; or rather that the performance absorbs us all, and we are all soaked into the strange, erotic rituals taking place. At one moment the core performers drags most of the audience unto the floor, which becomes a burlesque disco. Amids the throbbing crowd a dark figure appears, a tall figure in stilettos and a pitch-black mask. The figure is cruising around adressing each member of the crowd in short moments of direct contact. As someone later remarked, this was a moment, when you were adressed by a kind erotic impulse that had completely transgressed the notion of gender. You didn’t know if it was the man in you or the woman in you the obvious erotic tension was adressing. Gender was dissolved in that short moment. TO BE OR NOT TO BE: THAT IS THE QUESTION
After the 2 days of artistic-research-conference I was attending in Tromsø, this is where all the pretence and the critical potential of those discourses are fullfilled. This is where the dub-strategies of Tore Vagn Lid meets Florian Schneiders idea of charisma and are fused into an obscenely flirtatious, subversive version of experience-economy. Performed as a chaotic, evasive collective improvisation, transgressing gender and racial identities, transgressing audience and performer distinctions. This is identity-politics enacted, in an direct, completely untheoretical manner.
The performance is announced to end in the sauna of SmallProjects, but I slip off into the windy Tromsø night, letting the finale coalesce in my imagination.
FERVO by COMO CLUBE
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 22:00
Small Projects, Tromsø