© Blommers & Schumm

© Blommers & Schumm

© Blommers & Schumm

© Blommers & Schumm

Private: Wear a mask when you talk to me

In the late 1960s, Trisha Brown created a series of pieces dedicated to exploring every day movement and behavior. In order to denaturalize the dancer’s and the audience’s relationship to everyday uses of the body, Brown decided to stage the movement on a vertical wall, defying gravity using harnesses and ropes. Displaced to a vertical framework, ordinary movement was seen for the first time as a highly staged gesture, almost a virtuoso individual performance of an embodied normative cultural script.

 

A critic would say: Alexandra Bachzetsis’s solo PRIVATE: Wear a mask when you talk to me could be considered a sort of an “equipment piece,” where what it is to be explored is how everyday behaviors of gender and sexual identity are reproduced. Bringing Brown’s choreographic tradition into the highly techno-baroque world of global pop culture, PRIVATE is an unsolicited report, fifty-three minutes in duration, on how gender and sexual desire are fabricated through the ritualized repetition of bodily gestures within the neoliberal regime.

 

In PRIVATE, there are Oriental drag queen dances, gym and western yoga exercises mutating into football and porn poses, stock moves from theatrical training for advertising and the repetition of Michael Jackson’s rituals by teenagers. There is Trisha Brown transitioning into Rembetiko, and a single voice fighting to survive national and gender identity social theaters. 

 

However, PRIVATE does not mobilize techniques of parody that have been developed within feminist and queer cultures during the last years. It doesn’t aim to represent the process of embodiment of gender and sexual norms, but rather it explores the instances of performative failure and inner transition that allow for agency and resistance to emerge. How much history of discipline and dissidence can be encapsulated within a single gesture? Can movement activate the memory of the subaltern bodies that have been buried underneath hegemonic codes?

 

I would say: I hear your voice singing to me when my own body falls in a void between cultural gender notations. Your voice, exhausted after fighting naturalized gender codes, reminds me that the void embodies an opportunity for agency and survival. PRIVATE is a timeless hymn to transitions. A notation of its inner development, but also a mourning sketch for possibilities that were once open but can no longer be realized. In the end, this dance is not about normative gender performativity, but rather about the somatic energy that allows us to introduce moments of what Jacques Derrida called  “improvisatory anarchy” in order to interrupt history and trigger cultural change and political transformation.

 

Paul B. Preciado

Credits

CONCEPT, CHOREOGRAPHY and PERFORMANCE Alexandra Bachzetsis // COLLABORATION CREATION OF PERFORMANCE AND MOUVEMENT RESEARCH Thibault Lac RESEARCH CURATOR Paul B. Preciado // COMMUNICATION DESIGN and PHOTOGRAPHY Julia Born and Blommers-Schumm // COSTUME DESIGN Cosima Gadient // COLLABORATION SOUND Lies Vanborm // LIGHT DESIGN AND TECHNIQUE Patrik Rimann // STAGE DESIGN AND PRODUCTION ASSISTENT Sotiris Vasiliou // PRODUCTION Association All Exclusive // PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT Anna Geering // SUPPORTED BY Kooperative Förderververeinbarung between: Stadt Zürich, Kanton Basel-Landschaft, Kanton Basel-Stadt, Pro Helvetia-Schweizer Kulturstiftung, GGG Basel and Ernst Göhner Stiftung // COPRODUCED with Kaserne Basel, Zürich Tanzt, ICA London, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and Tanzhaus Zürich // THANKS TO Shannon Jackson, Mia Born, Oleg Houbrechts, Daphni Antoniou, Verena Bachzetsis, Jannis Tsingaris and Sakis Bachzetsis