Departures and Arrivals

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FOCUS ARTISTS - Texts

“A body comes out of the body”
Rita Natalio

 

In “Brume de mer” (2018), a group piece by Finland-based choreographer Elina Pirinen, we are taken to the mist of femininity, from where we are driven to the center of our hearts. Something blinks inside, something burns, something asks us to be silent whereas five women are dancing very close to us, while they open their mouths, and their spit becomes a language of its own, somewhere connected to us. But where are we, when presented to such anatomical intensity mediated by our own prejudices and icons? 

“Brume de mer” caresses our flaws, takes advantage of it, and maybe it is right to see this piece as iconoclast. Whenever our eyes tend to stick to prejudice and clichets, the piece will not work against them, but it will also not move towards them. Some stereotypes around women are like slime, slimy smiles and dreadful hip curves take over our gaze, stick on female bodies, are blowed by cisgendered realities. But, as Elina Pirinen as put in a Skype conversation with me, “Brume de mer” aims for the  emancipation of female subjects and this emancipation is much more about a psychodynamical process than about representation and imagery.

In the process of emancipation, pre-conceptions about women will obviously come to our minds, our fragmented icons of hysterical/pornographic/idiosyncratic women bodies will come, and we - as spectators - will have to stare at them without blinking. We are supposed to watch intense and private moments of these women dancing. It is much more a problem of perception than a problem of representation though. Performers will be sweating, giggling, staring, opening their legs and everything will seem too close, or   maybe we aren’t able to get a distance. We are inside of “Brume de mer”, and the face of each performer is a stamp of this intensity, of a corporeal existence that goes beyond a psychological découpage.

Thus, it is not about claiming the typologies, profiles or frames, but about diving into intensity without reversing it back into a clear message. “Brume de mer” is indeed about sorcery, a ritual that convokes and surpasses the hysterical body of women, the hyper-sexual body of women, the emotional-clownish body of women. Bodies “implant themselves deep inside the ground / dig stakes in the planet / spit that planet /implode their nerves through the ground”[1]. They do so as plants and minerals, but also as hurricanes and volcanos. “A body comes out of the body”, to quote Elina, and the group dances in a limbo where morality and judgment are not invited to play.

And speaking about sorcery, it is not by chance, that a circular ring dance takes place in the center of the space from time to time, marking a pace in the frantic development of the piece. From time to time, dancers will meet in the center and chant together, re-organising the dramaturgy of the piece. This reminds us the work of Italian philosopher Silvia Federici, Caliban and the Witch (2004), where she discusses the capture of witches and sorcery as key-events to capitalism theory and feminism. Federici presents a research project on women in the "transition" from feudalism to capitalism, where sorcery was historically “appropriated” as much as communal lands, by the control of medicinal herbs, the persecution of witches and their birth-control herbal medicines. And if “Brume de mer” is not touching the subject of feminism and witchcraft top down, it is curious to see the 6 dancers meeting in a circle and singing together songs about Nature as this one:

 

Soils and trees with no snails and leaves

Snails and leaves with no past dreams

Shores, Meadows, Mountains, Flood.

Spleens, Lungs, Livers, Glow.”

 

Togetherness is provided by the simplicity of this encounter, even if Elina Pirinem is not at all interest in a closed reading of the piece through metaphors and images of feminism (Starhawk, the Goddess, sorcery, etc). But considering previous works of the choreographer (where there is for sure an interest on female bodies), we are now confronted with a new maturity in these choices. For Elina Pirinen, the role of men is much less present/necessary, while feminism is somehow much more present in a shared thinking and in a shared ecology of bodies. Reclaiming that space, towards an activist spirituality, and a body immersive contestation, is part of that process without having to spell all letters. 

 

Rita Natálio

 

 

[1] verse of “Plants and their P(l)owers”, by Rita Natálio 2017.