Sunday, 14 July 2013

Tino Sehgal: This Variation - Manchester International Festival

Looking back on it, it could have been a dream. A series of unconnected events. From walking in bright sunshine, to passing through dusty behind the scenes , to being at the edge of darkness.

Stood at the edge of a dark doorway full of the panic, fear and excitement that precedes falling into that darkness. This is normal darkness as it is dense with voices making music a somehow unknown yet familiar tune inhabits the solid dark in front of me. These voices know the darkness, at least know it better then I do.

Clutching onto the wall, clutching onto the only thing that might be solid in this void. Into this darkness I stumble unable to see, it creates a gap, a void in my perception and into this void my brain begins to fill it with whatever information it has to hand. Creating a near hallucinogenic experience as images flash (Victorian architectural details, a multi limbed dancing creature) onto the empty space in my brain where visual information usual plays. All this happens as I stumble through the dark into others suddenly feeling cloth or skin belong to the other inhabitants. The dark grants me permission to walk into peoples personal spaces, as this has been obliterated by the nothing. It could almost offer an excuse for touching, an escape from the day to day conventions of human behaviour, not entirely though as once I’ve collided with any other body apologies are issued.  

At some point those voices began to surround me, I think, there vocals as close and enveloping as the black that surrounds us. They take on a urgent tone, like the chase music from some action film. Its actually quite uncomfortable, I don’t know whether to scream or laugh. These a point where I begin to wonder if they’re there at all I reach out a hand to see if they can be touched and not just some illusion trigged by sensory deprivation. There is something outthere, and I don’t know if I’ve touch something I shouldn’t so in a lull I say I’m sorry if that’s the case.

Around this point something changes I begin to become aware of the space, my eyes adjust forms appear. I turn from helpless stumbler to confident strider moving around the space and people. I am beginning to feel like a veteran here watching the faltering steps of the newcomers with a unjustified sense of superiority. I feel more in tune with the performers in terms of being free to move through the space and this marks the beginning of the end of experience. As it feels like I’m adjusting the space and reverting back to a traditional viewer/performance mode and have tumbled through different aspects of my perception and have been terrified, excited and even amused by this experience.

As I attempt to come to term with this experience, making mental references to other pieces such as Zee and The Symphony of a Missing Room. I keep on return to the dark, and how quickly the world can change when you turn the lights off.

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