BodyCartography: The Body-Cartography Project
Review II by Stevie Ada Klaark
Weisman Art Museum
July 11–Aug 8, 2018
Collaboration is an act that requires an intentional willingness towards play and trust. BodyCartography Project’s Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad have organized performances that breach the boundaries we create with body and space and within the mind through challenging the institution and the relationship between performer and viewer. Place is Space is The Ecstasy of St. Therese in reverse. This is a dismantling, an undoing. Heavy blankets in red, yellow ochre and cobalt blue–the triadic. The fabric smells of animal and earth and enshroud both floor and body. They are not neatly draped, flowing off of a white marble form. They are tightly wrapped or loosely disregarded in a slow game of conceal and reveal within the confines of a gallery space. There is an invisible thread between bodies as they expand and contract into one another, becoming abstracted shapes, a continuous reveal into the ambiguous. As Donna Haraway said, “Recursion can be a drag.” 1
Action Movie is a one-on-one performance that shows the body at once as both a tool and a vessel that makes present the feeling and corporeal understanding of how space can be relearned. Sneakers squeak on slick waxed floors in what feels like a strange game of basketball. As I listen to the performer walk intently from one side of the room towards me, I stand with eyes closed, I come to know that there are ten paces between one painting and another within the room. The body says, “Listen to me: walk. Now let’s do this together.” Heel first, toe second. Repeat this as your body swings in line, hesitation leaving you. You know because of unknowing. Despite closed eyes, you see. You trust despite knowing nothing more than the name of the person who leads you. Her body is beside yours. In an age where we check and uncheck a never-ending sea of boxes, there are no boxes to check, there are only boxes to step outside of as you open and close your eyes, moving from one gallery to the next, feeling light filter through shuttered eyes. As you peer at the inside of you eyelids you think to yourself that this is also what a jackrabbit’s ear looks like when light filters through it in the desert sun.
Panting behind the nape of your neck is a reminder that a person cannot only be in front of you, but behind, this act is one of pushing through. It makes you feel that there is an animal that lives in you both. The action is constantly happening and despite being thrown into the unknown we are suspended in the throws of a knowledge that we suppress in order to socialize. You realize again that running is a heel toe affair just as breathing is an inhale and exhale. Sweating is a beading on the skin but is triggered by a chemical reaction in the body.
This is about relearning, regaining and redoing in a process of togetherness through acknowledging a thread that binds. Our bodies are bounding toward each other, moving into and out from each other in experience and resistance. With resistance comes release. The boundaries and territories we create within and around our bodies exist because we allow them to present themselves as such.