A project by Joshua Hines, Thomas Bratzke & Antje Dudek
the performance – a perspective on what happened and what is remembered
I’m sitting in the right one of two window-shaped alcoves that symmetrically divide the back wall in two halves. My gaze is fixed on Thomas resting on a chair at the right-hand wall closer to the audience. Waiting. In my peripheral vision I see Joshua crouched in the left front corner of our stage surrounded by a small set of instruments: a microphone to his left, a loop station and a charango in front of him. Within the triangle that our positions mark in the space are a few more objects scattered about: a crudely painted flattened cardboard, a big enamel washing bowl, and towards the audience a cheap low chest of drawers. To my right, outside of view, lie a few markers on the ledge of the other alcove. On the white wall of that alcove hangs a white poster with blurred grayish contours resembling script.
We rest in stillness until Joshua starts moving towards the washing bowl, and carefully taps it, creating a muffled sound. Thomas joins him after a few moments. I wait and observe. I open a drawer and remove a thin sheet of plastic foil and scotch to make a bag which I inflate and deflate with my breath. The moisture of my breath gathers on the inside of the bag. Joshua joins me after a while, and touches the bag, feeling its volume decrease and increase monotonously.
We go back to our initial positions. Again we rest in silence and stillness. I believe it is Joshua who reinitiates action by experimenting with his instruments and my plastic bag. I hear him humming. Thomas takes a marker and starts drawing blue lines, moving forwards and backwards in movements that echo Joshua’s sounds. I jump off my ledge, take a hoodie that has been hanging on the back of Thomas’ chair and put it on back to front, so that the hood covers my face. I climb on the other window ledge and move my hands over the lines of gray shapes on the poster.
Fragments of what happens in the following half an hour:
I remember returning to my initial spot, and observing the scenery, the walls that become filled with lines in vivid colors.
Joshua plays the charango and creates twisted soundscapes that gain a melodic quality at times and become interrupted again.
I see myself unfolding the cardboard and holding it in front of me like a mask, and I feel how Thomas wraps me in it and we start to move between struggle and dance. The felt tip of a marker moves determinedly over the surface of my cardboard shell.
Ben moves around the space filming our actions, which are intermittently projected on the side wall of the performance space.
I don’t remember when the first words and word-like sounds are uttered and when the word “leaves“ appear next to a now colorful drawing that covers the left wall of the space.
I remember spilling salt that draws a temporary white vertical line into the air.
We all gather around the chest of drawers and draw and paint on slide frames and index cards, while Ben and the camera watch us intently. Thomas lifts a frame in the air, and this gesture is projected behind Joshua, who turns his head to face the camera. I remember his eye viewed through this the slide’s tiny window – all blown up in size by the projection of Ben’s camera.
Silence. And again: regained movement and dynamics.
Thomas starts jumping frantically.
I pour words on magnetic strips into the washing bowl filled with water. We rummage through them holding up individual words and showing them to each other; writing on water with the blue marker.
Sounds become a song. The walls show the traces of rhythms that are no longer audible.
Until we go back to our initial positions, become still again, and the performance ends.
construçao – building a structure for a performance
Our work for Accomplices Across Borders III – Zwischenzeilen|Wechselspiel started with the need to create a common ground for our collaborative performance; to set some rules of play, some fields of interest that we all wanted to engage in, and to implement that into the void. This void was rather the blurriness of the project: We had never worked together in this constellation, we came from different backgrounds, and we only knew vaguely that we wanted to create a collective performance. What approach to performance should we choose? How should we negotiate our way between improvising and scripting our actions?
Early in the process, we were struck by the necessity to negotiate meanings and desires. We chose text and translation as a possible starting point for our collaboration as it seemed to encapsulate this experience. Joshua came up with Construçao, a song by Brazilian musician and poet Chico Buarque from 1971, which tells the story of an “everyman“ on what might be the last day of his life in a simple yet lyrical manner: What might be taken for mundane actions on first glimpse (eating rice and beans, climbing a scaffold on a construction site) unravel their allegorical potential to encapsulate an entire life. In six minutes 24 seconds and three stanzas three versions of one narrative are being constructed that create each time an increasingly surreal scenery.
From this point we depart. It helps us discover that what we want to create is in fact a scaffold for a performance – not a certain fixed narrative or specific pre-set images, songs, meanings.
Leaves turn yellow. A song by Joshua becomes the anchor for our further work process.
Each of us loosely choose an “instrument“ or medium. We translate a musical composition into
However, borders are fuzzy and our focal instruments blend into each other: The movements of Thomas’ drawings become central, just as my actions influence the soundscape, all of our movements leave traces, change the spacial arrangements and might leave marks on the walls and on the floor.
We translate the song „line by line“ – but we do it in an associative non-standardized way that might use the song’s rhythm as well as its content or might just lead to expressions in a similar ambiance.
The song is translated by each of us simultaneously. Each of us determines for themselves how to interpret it. Individual interpretations are not discussed. At the same time we interact and communicate. We refer to one another.
The performance is just a sample execution of the structure.
The structure enables people with different qualities from different angles to fill a space with an open text.
We are silent.
We are who we are, we do what we like to do – using our individual qualities and skills
We meet the others and try to find something out together
Repeat 3 times.
a performance by: Joshua Hines, Thomas Bratzke & Antje Dudek
video camera: Benjamin Hermsdorf
photos: Eric Vogel
text: Antje Dudek