I actually don’t really like Snickers - I never did. If someone would offer me one of these chocolate bars I would reject with thanks. I never would choose to snack a Snickers. The caramel like cream too dry and definitely too much for me in combination with the peanuts. If you would give me a Snickers I would leave it to a friend of mine or store it on a shelf between other unloved sweets left to their fate. How you can easily recognize, Snickers...
I actually don’t really like Snickers - I never did. If someone would offer me one of these chocolate bars I would reject with thanks. I never would choose to snack a Snickers. The caramel like cream too dry and definitely too much for me in combination with the peanuts. If you would give me a Snickers I would leave it to a friend of mine or store it on a shelf between other unloved sweets left to their fate. How you can easily recognize, Snickers never was a part of my life and until a few weeks earlier, I couldn’t have imagined it would ever concern my work. But here we are, it did! Snickers in fact surprised me as a topic for the third edition of Dirty Debüt. In contrast to the previous edtions I did not have any expectations or ideas about the potential performances I would see. The subject was not, like the others before, associated to performance history and traditions thus the open call didn’t seem to provoke performances in specific aesthetics. In other words: Snickers as a topic didn’t appear to be a quote itself. The more surprised I was by F. Roadkill’s work STEALTHING SHIT – probably the first performance in the context of Dirty Debüt claiming quotation as its artistic method.
F. Roadkill made Sophiensaele’s Kantine his manege. Without any chairs, the audience was sitting on the empty platforms, standing on the brink of the stage, chatting and having drinks. The beginning of the performance itself took place in front of the Kantine, where the artist prepared the following 20 minutes with some visitors: Two of them had to carry a wooden board with a saw on it, some others brought in an other board with four glasses of wine placed upside down on the wooden surface. On a third board carried in lay a further visitor of the event. Arrived on stage, Roadkill conducted his helpers like an insane inventor or ringmaster and created several ready-made-like installations with their help: for example, they hung the wine board and attached a jacket on it. Being relatively calm and harmless in the beginning, the performance became more and more fast but especially more physical for the performer. Roadkill filled his mouth with coal and placed himself upside down on a leather held by some visitors. Afterwards he built up two leathers, connected through two of the wooden boards and placed himself on the upper one, just to saw up the plank under his feet and fall down. It reminded of a clown’s performance in circus, increased by the fact that the biggest part of the audience seemed to be amused and very well entertained while standing or sitting in groups and watching the artist fall. Interest, joy and suspense even raised when some visitors and the artist tried to turn around the “wine on wood”-ready-made without smudging the jacket, triumphed and started drinking wine. In the end, Roadkill curated his audience on stage: One had to stand on a leather presenting the saw, an other visitor was placed on the opposite leather with a boombox playing Arcade Fire’s “My body is a cage” and a third one was used as a hatrack, having the wooden board with the jacket leaned against his back. The created piece of art reminded of Erwin Wurms “One Minute Sculptures”. Roadkill left the room until the audience had listened to the whole song. Only now his actors were released.
The whole performance appeared to me as a retro art work pointing to the fluxus and happening art of the 60s. After all reenacting past works of other artists in museums and theaters was very popular in recent years. Consequently, I searched for the original performances quoted in Roadkill’s work. I scoured my memory but I did not find any. It awoke my interest – in particular as the title STEALTHING SHIT refers to an act of appropriation. A look at the program finally helped me along: F. Roadkill does quote, but not well known artist as I had expected. He quotes performances of other young emerging artists using parts of their work to create his own happening and to curate some kind of performative exhibition. But what is quotation without any point of reference for the spectator besides the other artists names? It shifts, as the performance’s title says, to an act of stealing – especially if the art works’ original titles are not given for research. An act of involuntary appropriation. But let’s be honest: The original is not important anymore, or better sayed: Nothing is original. For to create good (art) work it nowadays seems to be necessary and common to select, to steal things, to steal from that speaks directly to your soul. That’s exactly what F. Roadkill performed with a wink: His audience witnessed him acquiring art works he loves himself for to create an authentic piece of performance art himself. And in the end, it did not matter where he stole from, but what he made of it.
You doubtlessly remember the forgotten Snickers on my shelf. What if it would finally be found by a real Snickers-lover and live up to its name? Snickers is, like the visitors of the evening’s second performance RISUS experienced, more than the name of a mediocre chocolate bar: It’s a synonym for giggling. Ziza Akad’s work, produced by the two dancers Hanna Abergé and Marisa Akeny in collaboration with new media artist Sebastian M. Purfürst, dealt with the cultural meaning of giggling and related forms of expression such as laughter and smiling. The stage was held in clean aesthetics: The two dancers were standing opposite to each other separated through a simple high table, surrounded by five vertical light tubes. The music consisted of flicking, popping and clicking sounds, that made the room pulsate. The dancers, using elements of popping, illusionary dance and tutting movement, started their choreography facing each other without a wince, pulling and pushing each other’s body. Their dance moves highly precisely. Step by step Abergé and Akeny came closer to each other, becoming one body, a constantly moving sculpture consisting of two woman’s bodies. Their collective performance was ended by two consecutively solos. During this part the dancer’s bodies seemed to be externally controlled and machine-like. This impression was increased through simple interventions through the waiting and observing dancer. A gesture pointing to street dance culture. The following part of the performance was concerned with the act of smiling. A voiceover commanded audience and dancers to smile and gave some hard facts about how rarely we smile and laugh in daily live and that we are not able to laugh or smile and think at the same time. The explanation was exaggerated illustrated by the dancers on stage, followed by a further chorographical part dissembling the act of smiling: Abergé and Akeny faced their audience making grotesque faces, smiling and laughing like maniacs in their visitors faces.
It definitely makes sense to broach the issue of giggling as a woman. After all it is an activity mainly ascribed to little children, girls and woman. And while snickering children are perceived as likeable and cute, the giggling girl or woman is often watched as an annoying person or even as a synonym or expression of foolishness and naiveite. Giggling, a threat of manhood in numberless youth novels, the trademark of bad monstrous girls, like the two performers satirize by making smiling faces, that could also express pain, if you watch them a little longer. Through this RISUS trys to unmask power structures and to enable emancipation. But Ziza Akad does not only reflect about the meaning of snickering. Since the performance presented in the context of Dirty Debüt is only an excerpt of an ongoing long-time project abought laughter, smiling, mockery and derision, the focus on giggling is only a short part of the evening. Much more present is the analysis of the act of smiling, also in connection to concepts of femininity. Again, the artistic method of illustration is used to criticize the image of the always smiling gentle girl by constantly transforming it into a rebellious monstrous two headed woman, showing tongue and tooth. An image that in my opinion also needs to be dissolved, as it actually is socially established as the other side of the same medal: The image of the lovely, smiling woman and the one of the woman as a monster are inseparable connected. For to overcome them it would be important, to search for new ways of representation.
The except of RISUS presented at Dirty Debüt also connected urban dance styles with the question of emancipation in general: Through their performance the artists point to the stereotype of the dancing and smiling sexy woman in street dance and popular culture whose counterpart is a strong man devising the well-known gangster image.
#Snickers has been a challenge. But the irritation provoked by the chosen issue relieved the chosen art works and artists of expectations with regards to contents and aesthetics. Through that, Dirty Debüt’s third edition turned out to be dirtier than the prior issues: The four pieces of art presented were united through their unfinished characters and their playful handling of contents. With his work STEALTHING SHIT F. Roadkill dared a real experiment on stage all the more if it’s true that he actually didn’t rehearse before the presentation. Ziza Akad however started reflecting about snickering and ended up opening a whole semantic field, without fearing the size of the topic, but providing a basis for their further work on RISUS. #Snickers was like a fast sugar rush peppered with interesting ideas and concepts within very short time, safely slowed down during a feedback session with whiskey, cola, and pizza. Damn, I missed it! Instead I went home with my Snickers White and snacked it.