Confronting hyper reality
Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir in a dialog with Prof. Susan Kozel
“Physically, choreographically and dramaturgically I compose performances as passive aggressive experiences. This passive-aggression is vibrating at the core of omnipresent pathological states of embodied being induced by current and ancient conditioning and transference. These embodied pathologies exist in the shadows of what is considered normal life and in conceptual shadows. The work is a gesture to step into this space where it is necessary to stay until a shift happens. The commonality of these pathologies is revealed by being together in these states of incapacity to act, respond, move, feel or escape. Even though this is not a comfortable or comforting space to be in, a soft power of resistance is produced. It is this power that is choreographed, not the movements of bodies but the resonance of the internal movements and energies of the dancers in live performance. The dancers resonate with selected pathologies that they carry within their bodies, through them we resonate together in a meditative state of reciprocity. The intensity and information ripples outwards. The audience may be confronted by pathology, but this is done to initiate release and transformation and further cognitive processes on the topic, not to re traumatize.
This is a different sort of documentary with a different sense of fiction: it is documentation because the dancers bodies have spent many years doing the practice; it is fiction not that it is not real, but that it is hyper-real. The way the dancers vibrate differently is an invitation to a different body state that is a state of affective potential. The dancers bodies offer the potential to attune and align the audience bodies and thoughts. This happens both in live performance and the archival versions of the work, revealing different performative materialization of hyper-reality. This archival project called Somatic Archiving is an interdisciplinary scientific collaboration that uses augmented reality technologies to generate further opportunities for the vibrations of the dancers to radiate into the world. The archive functions in such a way that a somatic body state is viewed through a digital device which kick-starts that state in the viewers’ bodies. This archive re-choreographs the mobile device into something that enhances human experience rather than using it primarily for commercial purposes. It helps to expand our digital realities and lets the somatic states of the dancers travel into the wider world.
The practice, the performances, and the vision in combination evaporate the context of the theatre. The archival work ripples even further to expand what dance can be”.
Icelandic choreographer and dancer Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir was born in Reykjavík in 1978. She studied at the dance department of the Art Academy ARTEZ in Arnheim and Amsterdam in the Netherlands and graduated in 2002. She currently lives and works in Berlin. Margrét Sara co-founded with Sveinbjörg Þórhallsdóttir the production house Panic productions in Reykjavík Iceland. A production house which was active from 2004-2009 and produced and initiated collaborative performance works with foreign artists.
In 2010 Margrét Sara began the process of mapping out a new category of performative body language, ways of developing it further, and transferring this knowledge to others. The first artistic work created from this on going research was in 2013. From then onwards she and her longer term collaborators put emphasis on dedicating a longer period of time to work in-depth on specific artistic topics and develop the ambitious and detailed physiological language and performance practice necessary to convey it. Electronic music maker Peter Rehberg (PITA) director and owner of the music label Edition MEGO has created the soundtracks to all the performances. The performers Laura Siegmund, Suet-Wan Tsang, Johanna Chemnitz, Angela Schubot, Catherine Jodoin have been long term collaborators, amongst other female dancers that deeply engaged in the work such as Louise Dahl, Marie Ursin, Marie Topp. Margrét Saras work has been supported consistently through out the years by MDT in Stockholm, Inkonst in Malmö, WP zimmer in Antwerpen, Sophiensaele in Berlin, Dansehallerne in Copenhagen, LOKAL & RDF in Iceland. During 2015 Margrét Sara became the first artist in residence at the Cullberg Ballet in Stockholm. Creating her second commissioned work for the Cullberg Ballet in 2017. Since 2017 she has had an on going collaboration with philosophy Professor Susan Kozel at Malmö University in Sweden. This research opened into philosophical dimensions, integrating the deep fascial release practice of FULL DROP into the Body with philosophical thought and language in collaboration they intend to work on a book together on this topic. Margrét Sara was one of 10 selected artists sharing working space at the Flutgraben artists studio building in Berlin during the period march 2019- February 2020, and curating collaboratively the ”Flutgraben Performance Series” events. She started a long term collaboration with Icelandic visual artist and filmmaker Hulda Rós Guðnadóttir and composer, musician and gallerist Guðný Guðmundsdóttir in 2019 on the film project SILICA and with Professor Lucilla Guidi postdoctoral at Hildesheim University who is currently working on the research project “Performance and language games as transformative events”. Which focuses on the systematic relationship between aesthetic and philosophical exercises based on Guðjónsdóttir’s somatic choreography and Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language. The research project aims to establish a systematic connection between aesthetic and philosophical practice.
The last 10 years the main themes of Guðjónsdottirs works have been a study on the social political body within our own body and how that reality is expressed and felt. Consequently she has focused her professional research on physical doorways into physiological, psychological and emotional sub worlds association with deep tissue release. Developing the sensation and state-oriented practice FULL DROP into the Body which questions older concepts of how we relate to the concept of the professional body and methods of disciplining and dominating that body in order to gain control over it and have it perform for us. Once the plasticity of the human matter is recognized, unwinding and de-conditioning our formerly imprinted body memory, can be seen as a political act and activism. The performance works has political relevance to the ongoing discourses of the international dance scene by engaging in the ongoing discussion of healing, feminism, interconnectedness, notions of energetic citizenship, and the pathology of the social political body within the choreographic context. The works made over the last 10 years function as safer spaces for collective exploration of the maze of connections and dead ends that constitute the interface of the pathological body with our achievement-oriented society. Creating a platform for the examination of the antihero, the burned-out self, the over-exposed, the imploding, the alienated, and the isolated and marginalized private body. In observing this work, the audience experiences a rush of intimacy from being party to genuine heightened physical and emotional states. This fact reinforces the theme in the practice of allowing the performer and viewer access to states that are usually extremely private, thereby opening up the way for a profound experience that is disarmingly radical in its manifestation and politics. These body states are celebrated as visceral denials of the externally and internally imposed imperatives to achieve, and draw a contrast with the logic of hyperactivity by presenting an alternative kind of energy and strength. A body that opposes influences that are unhealthy to it exerts a subversive power over its environment. It transfers itself, as a kind of physical-energetic contagion, onto the bodies of the audience. From a starting point of letting the body fall and surrender, this body continues its emptying and disintegration to an extreme state during the course of the performances. This disintegration of the bodies of the performers is taken into the inner reality of the audience through the steady, slow, and hypnotic transformation taking place in front of their eyes. The result is a cohort of radically de-bordered bodies that portray the anonymous multitude. The dancers surrender to and are moved by inner forces, both political and energetic in nature, both ancient and current, and of a magnitude and power far greater than all of us. Forming a corporeal language that serves as a doorway into the subconscious. This language is marked by an infinite presence that reveals and provokes in the same moment. It breaches the divide between performer and audience in a meeting that is explosive in its intensity. Together, exploring and confronting the inner landscape of the de-bordered body, offering up an alternative reality of physical pleasure and pain that with surrender to our shared reality.