3 tanzende Menschen

modern chimeras

The chimera, mythologically shifted into monstrosity and polyanimalism, is also illusory, an untrustworthy image, spawned by fantasy, something ephemeral and conceivable only as stuck in permanent transformation.

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In an eponymous essay from 1895, H.G. Wells theorised the “Limits of Individual Plasticity”‒‒ the ideas further developed in the sci-fi novel The Island of Dr. Moreau‒‒in which he explored the question of how far living animals could be surgically or chemically modified towards human form. In a poetic sense, Modern Chimeras takes this notion a step further so ancient chimeras (with printed animal skins) and “animalistic” body language are associated into the present.

Modern Chimeras is also utopian in that it declares equality between creatures, the avoidance of hierarchies and an end to those crutches that are called coherence and order.

fotos: michael loizenbauer

Fibreland
Stefan Grissemann on Modern Chimeras

The flesh is willing, the tissue awake:
In Modern Chimeras a ritual pact is made between body, mind and fabric.

The chimera, mythologically shifted into monstrosity and polyanimalism, is also illusory, an untrustworthy image, spawned by fantasy, something ephemeral and conceivable only as stuck in permanent transformation. It is incomprehensible and not to be categorised. So some of the Modern Chimera figures that appear on stage, with all their many and diverse particularities, might seem lost. But “lost” here means something other than the subdued drama of the German expression “Verlorensein” because “lost” also resonates with pensiveness, being adrift in reverie, oblivious, with a prolonged state of confusion that can also be interpreted as a form of freedom or existential liberation. Whoever is in the position of being able to leave behind all social ascriptions and identity prisons has a good chance of living a reasonably autonomous life. Body positivity is unimaginable without mental balance. Those who are lost in thought have a soft landing, feathered by their aspiring uniqueness and old rituals whose origins can no longer be reconstructed – every creature is its own species.

The course of events is fixed, festivities and celebrations follow their preordained gestures, images, sounds and verbal fragments. A ceremony takes place whereby inner exigency and strict autonomy cannot be placed in doubt. The gods raise their animal-human heads to practice devotion and be honoured. The worshiped worship themselves in humility and self-aggrandisement, dissolved in the double meanings of their presence, the ambivalence of their fool’s gold divine existence. Chimeras keep their options open, make no decisions, can be and live anything. Flexible individuals are always re-constituting themselves in different constellations and are always in motion: the caravans move on and from a distance the processions call to mind what one used to call belief. The shadows are ephemeral cave paintings, intangible, while the sublime and the despised, the kings, queens and beetle-like creatures pass on by.

In an eponymous essay from 1895, H.G. Wells theorised the “Limits of Individual Plasticity”‒‒ the ideas further developed in the sci-fi novel The Island of Dr. Moreau‒‒in which he explored the question of how far living animals could be surgically or chemically modified towards human form. In a poetic sense, Modern Chimeras takes this notion a step further so ancient chimeras (with printed animal skins) and “animalistic” body language are associated into the present. How does communication function between hybrid entities?

This production is also utopian in that it declares equality between creatures, the avoidance of hierarchies and an end to those crutches that are called coherence and order. The multiplicities appears to be communicative, connected, but physically noticeably present too, not disembodied and remote: a post-digital model of pure materiality, a choreographed rhizome with roots that that are an unmanageable weave and network of branches which exhibit an immense connective capacity and flexibility. Feats of creative improvisation and adaptation provide the creaturely core of the figures with an overall indestructability, immunised against external impositions.

Modern Chimeras is anything but a costume parade. Neither is it a fashion statement unless one takes that in the very fundamental sense of existential; fabric not as clothing, covering or a “second skin”, but as an extension of the flesh, as if the object has, in some irritating, almost organic, way temporarily fused with the surface of the body. Considered more closely, skin is not just an outside phenomenon. Not only has the heart an inner skin, the shadow zones of bodily orifices also have mucous membranes that are internal extensions of the epidermis. This emphasises carnality: one penetrates, swells up, opens up, stretches out and is eviscerated. The calligraphy of the body in space can be read as an expression of the essential nature of the depicted figures: one could call this work a choreographological enterprise.

The “fabric-ated” character of the textile products corresponds to all that has long since been developed serially by high-tech medicine –manufactured, more highly evolved and optimised human bodies. A mesh, a “unity”, is created in woven fabric that has a protective and boundary function, which can also be a casing in which one can become a pupa and transform as in a cocoon. The figment of the imagination, Hirngespinst in German, that the chimera represents is even recognisable phonetically– sonically ‘spinning’–as the quasi-textile thread of the dreamers. In this enraptured sense, Modern Chimeras does not celebrate the suspense of a dramaturgically finely-tuned narrative but the very special “tensility” exhibited by body, mind and fabric.

 

31/07/2022

ImPulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival, AT

29/07/2022 (premiere)

ImPulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival, AT

dates

Dance, Choreography: Luke Baio, Stephanie Cumming, Dong Uk Kim, Katharina Meves, Dante Murillo, Anna Maria Nowak, Hannah Timbrell
Artistic Direction, Choreography: Chris Haring
Composition and Sound Concept: Andreas Berger
Light Design, Scenography: Thomas Jelinek
Costumes: Stefan Röhrle
Stage Management: Roman Harrer
Theory: Stefan Grissemann
Distribution: APROPIC – Line Rousseau, Marion Gauvent, Lara van Lookeren
Production: Marlies Pucher

Thanks to Jakob Lena Knebl and Hans Scheirl for the donation of props.

A production by Liquid Loft in co-operation with ImPulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival
Liquid Loft is supported by the Cultural Department of the City of Vienna (MA 7) and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Arts and Culture, Civil Service and Sport (BMKOES).

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