Once upon a time in the future – Writings about the performance RUN FAST, BITE HARD

Performance

 

Once upon a time in the future
Writings about the performance RUN FAST, BITE HARD by Elisabete Finger & Manuela Eichner

by Olivia Ardui
 

Once upon a time in the future, there is a blank screen. A screen inhabited by an abstract and chimeric being, a fleshy machine with its long tail of hair, a hybrid made of disjointed limbs moving interdependently. A frequency seems to animate this fragmented figure, alternating and momentarily sustaining poses emulating an android of a forgotten antediluvian frieze. Between the permutation of its attitudes, it seeks a bionic balance rearranging its centre of gravity only to unfold into another corporeal configuration. The eternity of this imagetic repertoire of attitudes and gestures lasts seconds. Chest open, arms forming angular lines, hands raised, fingers crossed, legs flexed, feet in gallop, back curved: enigmatic signs composing an opaque yet suggestive language.

The sequences of movements seem to iterate in ciphered gestural sentences. Indeed, they suggest the strangely familiar of the treacherous childhood games, celebrated scenes from a long-forgotten film, different fragments of iconic choreographies. Beyond the repeated gestures, a melodic leitmotif insists on resonating. The repeated theme – something in between a lullaby, a robotic call, and the sound of an apocalyptic trumpet – generates an expectation frustrated by a predictable metric, by a resolution that never arrives. On the contrary, the melody ascends only to return to its inaugural chords. Noises reminiscent of the gait or trot of a horse complement the disturbing sonic landscape that seem to echo the Sisyphean actions of the protagonist.

 

In its perpetual quest for a vanishing point, it runs fast without moving. Within the frame, advancing means to return. Approaching the edge of the abyss, it retreats as not to fall out of the border. Until its figure stands out from the background, positions itself on all four paws, and gains wings, in another moment of condensed eternity. It is uncertain whether there are any attentive witnesses watching this metamorphosis, or if there are just silhouette-resembling stones sitting there, immobile and mute, for centuries. In any case, it goes to meet these accomplices, no matter how inanimate they may be. Gathering courage on all fours and pulling the umbilical hair, it transmutes its frontal and two-dimensional existence to invest the space in front of it, drawing a circle within the perimeter of the watching presences. This spiralling movement culminates when the winged quadruped begins a wild ride with the reins of its crest-like tail.

The accelerated and vigorous jolts seem, once again, to lead nowhere, and its urgency no longer prevent an inevitable inter-species confrontation. A repeated wobbling that is coupling as well as shock, collision, impact, bump, clash, touch, palpitation, beat, breath, sigh, emptiness. The wings detach, turn against the humanoid matrix to which they were attached, and dig their claws into one of the perimeters of flesh with a long-lost greed. If the clash is serious and fateful, subtle is the renegotiation of forces, impulses, and false instincts at play, and the coup de grâce is both the end and the beginning. The prey, after yielding its neck, helps the voracious bird – exhausted by the vehement attack it has just committed – to take flight. Or is it to be suspended by a thread, like a stage prop, an orbiting satellite, or another omniscient spectator?

Between strangeness and vigilance of one removing one’s armour after the battle, the figure bids farewell to its attribute in a careful back and forth. Until its helmet-hair is agitated by a nervous serpentine breath, becoming a mutant snake choosing as prey the body to which it forgot it belonged. A dizzying duet then begins between the cybernetic being waiting for the serpent-hair's strike, ready to use any subterfuge to suckle a metallic breast. And it is in this dance of death, by synchronizing their sinuous movements, tuning their undulating vibrations, that cyborg and snake progressively recognize themselves as congeners, sidereal anthropo-zoomorphic relatives of a primordial future.

[Translated from Portuguese]


 Olivia Ardui is a storyteller. Her narrations unfold in different formats, spanning from critical essays to love letters, formal courses to tarô readings, exhibitions as well as speculative shows. In her recent work, she approaches exhibition making and art history through the prism of fiction, dramaturgy or as potential theatrical scripts – putting into question their apparent objectivity and neutrality. Reception and mediation, as well as the interaction between form and content are thus key in her practice. Ardui has extensive international experience in institutional roles including as curator in the Tomie Ohtake Institute or Museum of Art of São Paulo (MASP). She currently holds a teaching position in art history at UCLouvain, Belgium, while working on independent artistic projects.

Elisabete Finger is a brazilian choreographer and performer. Her creations investigate the materiality and anatomy of bodies and things, exposing textures, densities, forms, and fluids in situations that explore the borders between delight and disturbance. Through the contact-collision of different materials, she experiments logics guided by sensations and eroticisms, which often rub against meanings and social or cultural expectations. In 2023, Elisabete Finger was Artist in Residence at Radialsystem. The performance RUN FAST, BITE HARD, co-directed by Manuela Eichner, was shown in October 2023 at Radialsystem.

Manuela Eichner is a multifaceted visual artist living and working between São Paulo and Berlin. Her practice ranges from videos to performances, collaborative workshops, illustrations, installations, and more. On these different fronts, Manuela often departs from the mass media images found in magazines, and systematically resorts to the principles of collage and rupture. She has participated in a variety of programs worldwide such as Rumos Itaú Cultural in São Paulo (BR), ZK/U in Berlin (DE), AnnexB  in New York (USA), and IASPIS Residency in Malmö (SE).

→ Learn more about Elisabete Finger and RUN FAST, BITE HARD

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