To be another body for me

Linda Marie Walker, No longer ready made, Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods

Immediately, one’s own body is called by the sound of the dancers in the dark taking their places. Such a small, ordinary, and necessary thing. But this is to be the entire ‘work’, this internal heat, to be the body for another, for oneself. To be another body for me, say. To watch, and watch as it acts alone, always, even when together, being duo. To watch No longer ready made is to watch an unfolding that is, no matter how intense (and wanted) the movement, is unfolding that goes on, relentlessly, as unfolding, not revelation. The physicality of unfolding though and its persistence in the body as a way, a method, is unbearably wishful, desirous, devastating. That is, the body wants to know something, wants to know how to go on, renew itself. Without end.

A man stands alone in a square of light, his head whipping violently side to side. Then his whole body shivering. As if convulsed, repulsed by a memory, a memory cutting loose perhaps, something I can’t know. The other three dancers wait in the background, two women and a man. The single interfering logic, a logic in flux, is ‘unreadyness’, this is a logic of detail. The detail that can never be ‘ready made’, and is never ‘no longer’, but always present. That’s the trouble, that’s the image in the body, of a stillness that creeps out of the pores.

There are moments of extreme passion in this work, of the complete and known separateness of beings, as creatures. As when a couple battle each other. The man, his hands held behind his back, pushes and kicks, and blocks every move the woman makes, yet she will not succumb. The moves are precise. Each body knows just what the other will do, emotionally, I mean. It’s the exhaustion of the body one hears. Then she’s alone, with his coat on, going through the pockets transferring debris from one to the other, finding nothing much. But more desperate for that, emptying ‘his’ life onto the stage. Nothing at all soon, just her, with her clothes. What to do with a coat. How to be watched, to be in the presence of an ‘audience’, with ‘nothing’. And to gradually expose oneself, until overexposed, until as awkward as a coat. Until just a thing to hang other things on.

No longer ready made is shaped by details, some so small and funny they are almost imperceptible. Sometimes so large it takes a while to see them. It’s this attention to detail that keeps one watching, as ‘work’ happens everywhere at once (like on the street). In each life, details congregate, and wait, and return. In the end, one man walks slowly from the back of the stage to the front, over the debris, while the others throw themselves around him (in unison), he doesn’t see them, they don’t see him. Then, with nowhere to go, he falls into the arms of another man, who carries him for some time, in different ways. This is a moving segment, bleak and intimate. Soon he is alone again, shaking and shivering. He is his body. A space.

Somewhere here I’ve lost the sequence, I’m not sure if this is the last image, or this: the two men, each gently scratching on a ‘door’, a surface (the set is minimal, pragmatic and evocative). No urgency, but sound, the sound of a small part of the body (the finger nails) against a border, a kind of recovery, a starting point. And one’s body is called—is remembered again—by the sound of bodies in ‘places’ unfolding.

No longer ready made, Meg Stuart/ Damaged Goods; dancers: Florence Augendre, David Hernandez, Benoit Lachambre, Meg Stuart, The Space, Adelaide Festival.

RealTime issue #12 April-May 1996 pg. 14

© Linda Marie Walker; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 April 1996