As part of the ‘Into Position’ art festival in Vienna, I was invited to participate in Failure Notice, an exhibition about the process of exchange and the consequences of miscommunication. I showed my video Excess Baggage which was made as the result of my residency in Marseille. But I also asked the curators to hire a trained dancer for me to perform with at the opening. He deftly taught me the romantic choreography I had pieced together from myriad sources such as the dream sequence in Singing in the Rain, the montage in Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Madonna’s Express Yourself.
At the start of the performance I am lying on the ground, seemingly unconscious – I am brought to life and swept off my feet by my partner. The musical accompaniment is Julio Iglesias’ ‘Viens M’embrasser’ which fades out in order for me to say my monologue. The monologue, which echoed the movements in the dance, was about romantic relationships. Once I was done speaking, Iglesias’ song ‘Vous Les Femmes’ begins. To that song’s much more upbeat tempo we dance again but with 80s/90s pop-influenced moves. Eventually the dancer and I take turns lifting one another up.
The monologue between the two songs went as follows:
I want to tell you about a woman, her name is not important. One day she was thinking about her past relationships with men and she realised that she had started every single one of them. It was always her making the first move even in the most unexpected circumstances. But none of those relationships worked out because having made the first move she always ended up with passive partners who eventually took her for granted. So she was determined to change – no more repetition compulsion. A new love is a new life. At the start of her next relationship she was going to be passive, which begs the question: is it possible to be actively passive? Nevertheless she managed to fall for a man who actively pursued her, but he also happened to have all the exact opposite qualities of her last partner. So they had all the same relationship problems, but in reverse. With her last boyfriend she was needy and always wanting more of his time and affection, in her new relationship, on the other hand, he was needy and always wanting more of her time and affection. And so she thought surely there must be another type of relationship in which these dynamics were much more changeable and fluid.
Performed with Sebastijan Gec