Clutter in the soul’s landscape

Meg Stuart, Benoît Lachambre and Hahn Rowe showing ‘FORGERIES, LOVE AND OTHER MATTERS’ in Schauspielhaus Zürich

De Morgen 3 Jun 2004English

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Contextual note
This review was first published in Dutch in the Flemish newspaper De Morgen, and translated into English by Leen Driesen with the support of Damaged Goods.

After some large-scale productions, choreographer Meg Stuart ended her residency at Schauspielhaus Zürich in the small hall. ‘Forgeries, Love and Other Matters’ breathes a high level of interiorization. The co-operation with the Canadian choreographer and performer Benoît Lachambre has certainly something to do with this. Both dancers explore inner landscapes, in which an organic awareness of the surroundings and a synthetic imagination happily graze against one another. As a couple, they recycle and filter the apocalyptic fantasies and clichés from movies and emo-culture. Identity crises, visceral belches and big chunks of kitsch each land softly in the plush setting by Doris Dziersk and in the minimal soundtrack by Hahn Rowe. ‘Forgeries’ is muggy and complex, defiant and humoristic and above all shameless theatre.

A man and a woman land somewhere in a rolling landscape out of brown plush. The last inhabitants on earth? An experimental couple in a reserve? Or just a Sunday picnic? Indefinable, but nevertheless recognisable. Their communication does not always pass off quietly. Soon enough they get lost in patterns, in a prescribed reality that is being ruled by holiday magazines and horoscopes. Stuart and Lachambre appropriate these matters rather than criticising or ironizing them, they filter them with their own body. Not so much the body image, but a sensory logic functions as intermediate. What remains is a geography of resistance, symptoms and paroxysms.

After a while quite some waste and refuse is scattered about, the landscape seems to function as a metaphor for the state of mind of the performers. Through their appearance and behaviour they also refer to other registers: he wears the red boots of Vincent Gallo, she the blond wig of Patricia Arquette. We now end up in fiction. These filmic references allow for wild thoughts, for big leaps in time and space. And again a strange sensoriness that tends to science fiction: between both figures there is not only too much reality, but also too much fiction. All this results into new communication possibilities and into an alienating intimacy.

The respective backgrounds of Stuart and Lachambre are tangible on this point: e.g. they both have their own ways of coping with entropy and dissipation. Stuart discovers big balls of plastic junk. She puts these avidly underneath her clothes so as to assume a new appearance. As such she lands in an underground laboratory, where analyses are made of waste as well as the body, as of the realms of speech and thought. Lachambre has a sense for blending. In an attempt to abolish all boundaries and to become one with the surroundings, he turns lustily in a puddle.

In the end they tumble in bear suits through the landscape, as to indicate that there no longer exists any distinction. In ‘Forgeries’, Stuart and Lachambre write an inner geography in a mildly ironic way. Choreographic emo-core that moves between gravity and lightness. They leave psychological deepening aside to indulge in the highly raised terrain of imagination.