Things On a Table starts with a table in the dark. On this table – a metaphorical tabula rasa – ordinary everyday objects, paper, milk, ink, an apple, a glass of water, are manipulated into a series of assemblages, cajoled into compositional exactitude, lit and framed by a camera connected to a projector. Nothing is hidden from our view, in fact, the projection enlarges every detail of the making process. And yet surprising, profound and dreamlike tableaux emerge, evoking still life vanitas from the 17th century and scientific demonstrations from the 18th. The text of the performance is taken from the Gertrude Stein play Objects Lie On a Table from 1922 in which her limited vocabulary is chopped up and rearranged into a composition of rhythmical elements. The language is freed from its usual task of representation and used as material to play with and sculpt. Spoken live by the artist and musician Katrin Hahner during the piece, Stein's text evokes the methods of her cubist circle, breaking language and viewpoint apart to form new compositions, bridging the space between the visual, the musical and the verbal. In Things On a Table, the associations of everyday objects start to coalesce questions about art history and the bourgeois obsession with object possession and arrangement, of gender and representation as well as environmental and ethical issues. A whirl of landscapes, upheavals and transformations form simultaneously in front of the audience and the unblinking camera. Perspectives switch between the micro and macro so that the objects on a table start to take on dimensions and meaning far beyond their humble, recognisable forms.
The piece is the meeting of disciplines which the interdisciplinary artists have deep connections with. Performance and photography are not just used here as techniques but rather the gesture repertory of photographic image production take on choreographic importance. Choreographies emerge from the assembly of objects witnessed by the camera but also from the movements of the people creating these assemblies, arranging object, light, camera – as alchemists extracting the magical from everyday material.
Eva Meyer-Keller and Uta Eisenreich
Elisa van Joolen
PACT Zollverein (Essen), Internationales Figurentheater-Festival (Erlangen), MDT (Stockholm), EdB Projects (Amsterdam), Mondriaan Fonds (NL) supported by NATIONALES PERFORMANCE NETZ (NPN) Koproduktionsförderung Tanz aus Mitteln der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien aufgrund eines Beschlusses des Deutschen Bundestags
30.3 – 2.4.2017
8 – 9.9.2016
MDT, Stockholm (SE)
11 – 12.5.2016
Schwankhalle Bremen, Bremen (DE)
16 – 17.4.2016
Het Veem, Amsterdam
29 – 30.1.2016
Pact Zollverein, Essen (DE)