ESSAY ABOUT PERFORMANCE
A pseudo-private letter to Lorenna Grant.
This essay was developed during communication with an Australian artist friend of mine, Lorenna Grant,
at the time of her perfrormances in Basel (CH) and Lodz (PL) >catalog.
Thank you very much for the images about your surprising performance, shown these last days in Basel, Switzerland. These photos transmitted to me by electronic means, have no materiality of paper which would maybe make something pseudo-real like. The usual classic photography, taken in hand has something more to do with nature of perception and the understanding of represented subjects and their spiritual aura. So this time, I am limited to using imagination, coming from a few super-artificial, digital character reality-pictures.
The two-dimensionality of photography remains directly on the problems, according documentation of in fact unrepeatable performance-acts, which are never one-dimensional. However even the best-shot pictures of performance scenes can be always just "lifeless" documents complex manifested artistic processes with "choreographic" tension. Here I can say also that I am not very sure that video documents are functioning much better. Watching televised motions in itself means a never complete enough "later-information" instead it directs experiences of the performance's own authentic "before-realities". By the way, that "deformation" comes not only from the subjective perspective of the video-documentator, but as a result of perceptive modulations by consequences of time-passing-factor.
This nearly indiscutable fact can be interesting also the other way around: Under the aspect of an unexpected situation in which we met this September in Zaragoza, Spain. The media-attracting attacks on the World Trade Center, which we had to see from a screen, displayed from a TV hanging from the ceiling of the local bar - in the direct time of their meaningful happening. It was not any kind of later shown document of a truth with cosmetics, and as a unique media-attraction it was an extraordinarily strong impulse to open in our brains and souls not only general, but fundamental questions of our own determining realizations, not less about our physically passing life but for our best "rest" for a still transformable art.
The perception of the "Twins-fall" dramatic reality in its authentic time-frame, consumed by us in Spain across the count of Middle European Time, made us clear that there are some points of experience of which such visions cannot be shared. That we still have enough time to reach for what we once, somewhere in our given little worlds became, not by chance, artists. Besides the waiting not only intellectual and strategic concepts for intelligent blowing up and realizations, there are rationally unreachable secrets too in us, which power comes out when the most seldom substantial recognitions suddenly erupts and grows over the logic and rules of our extant pseudo-metaphysical life-constructions.
The improvising medium of performance, as I discovered a few years ago, results not only with ideas for inscenations on stage, but with spectacular possibilities in synthesis and integration of any temporarily or constantly usable means of communication by the acts of art.
Ural-Altaic shaman woman / sketch / archive
Laszlo Kerekes performing in the Arena Berlin at 1995. Videostill by Norbert Lipps
After the images of your naked shown performance in Switzerland, where are also produced the best watches in the world, and after many different kind of performances of my own life, I would ask you for a little freedom of thoughts to say that your piece associates itself to something nearly Catholic. I am spontaneously reminded on contradictions in suffering, symbolized by the changed-role / female body in modern context. I mean, "symbolized", because similar to everything other, this idea depends in all directions on mental state and level of sensitivity. For sure in our age, it is beautiful that you have not any shame in "acting" before audience. The operations with body-messages are very delicate. Even we can feel already the richness of possibilities by the consciousness about the "transitory". The not really harmless human essence of this lies not in the sphere of exhibitionistic complexes, but between reflexes of proofing self-credibility: We know a little bit about experiences of body technology, and only important and valuable can this be, is by using exact means and by economy of factors, enough strong to connect the brains - reflecting special prepared codes, defined by act of performance and its optimally quick working structures.
Because real performances always have something to do with usability and even misuse of demonic powers, I can imagine well your handwork in the use of dust on skin to project the unformed body, and operations by precisely measured universal materials of light, water, milk, wax, and emotions.
Maybe someone will say that in such performances there are hidden sexual elements too. I agree, but they can be maybe provocative first of all for those, whose poor language-background will be from beginning just fixed on some morphologic details of performers body.
Focused on this specific aspect, I would like go back to the elemental time and space of my childhood. That was long ago and in the meantime, the world from which I had come has broken down forever. There, in that space of the past with a promised future, I had seen for the first time an adult woman's performing body naked up close. I was fascinated, but with a fear of the unbelievable energy emanating from that person: her animalistic voice, her intense smell and her ancient pagan ritual of warding off ghosts, being preventative acts against illnesses. I was tremendously intrigued by her eyes and body tattoos.
My aunt, who had brought me to that "performance", was my best protection there. She instructed me not to look at the details of the witch's diabolic body, because it will cause me unhappiness for the rest of my life! Being extremely curious as to what will happen during her strange and appalling actions, I pretended to close my eyes. I fell more and more under the spell of her expanding power. Suddenly, others present at this performance of dispelling ghosts began to scream and cry loudly. Many years later in 1997, exactly during a performance of my "Where do we go from here?" in collaboration with the Berlin dancer, Dragana Cukavac, on the historic stage of the Bauhaus, my mother, 1500 kilometers away in Yugoslavia, died in the mad house of wartime.
In my naked shown performances, I was myself confronted with the exact border between functioning as a sexual object and functioning as a clear-mind-transmitter-medium of subtle targeting sexual-like codes with a meaning for the action. In productions of many performers I had seen often grotesque symptoms of inability to step above such easy readable pathologic weights which would be more for a specialist than for the challenges of shamanic powering - a dangerous stage.
I am sure that there exist a basis, a high level spiritual correlation between specific influencing developments of a recent short period from our meeting in Spain, and your ambivalent personal artist power, now perfectly adapted to take clearly nice effectible tools and faces from deep inside personal resources and from stuff of the collective movable mind. Maybe the sizes of your inter continental back view and the experience of your "whole thing" until now simply needed this, for the audience probably just linguistic manifested experiment of a radical self-redefinition which can be in the same time a sign of a break as well as a start point of something necessary new and differently complex, than was in your work and orientation before.
On the place where this subject begins to be uncomfortable, we could start to speak about transcendence. That belongs also, nearly organic to this specific universe. Just no misunderstandings! In performance there is no manipulation and no illusions. As an expressive form, it is about something other. You will find both of these last mentioned factors wherever you turn, in the life itself and when you are viewing your own mirror.
With artist love to you, your Laszlo Kerekes
(Berlin / December 2001)
© Laszlo Kerekes
Lorenna Grant, performace, Basel (Switzerland), 2001 / Photos by Jo Ractcliffe & Bruno Trembley