REVIEWS

 

As I searched for images meanings and content to hang on to, I was left adrift, slowly streaming away from my query, my desire and expectation to find something beneath the surface. This piece becomes a canvas, not a white canvas, but a canvas of fields and energies which set the conditions for a journey to unfold…But this is not just any canvas. As it shapeshifts, Pervasive Magnetic Stimuli allows itself to be what it says it will be: pervasive. Not invasive, but pervasive. My humble advice: Let it do what it has to do. And if you can’t, it most probably will do what it has to do anyway. How or when? That’s for no one to know and each to find out. The collective unconscious has been conjured, but have no fear, we are all here: witnessing, calling, dreaming.

Chris Gylee, International Notice 1rst. november 2018, http://internationalnotice.org

 

I wonder: Whose unconscious is being shown to me as I melt into my chair and pour over the stage of Pervasive Magnetic Stimuli? The choreographer’s? The dancers’? The person’s sitting next to me? My own? What projections am I throwing into this cave?…I am addressed, but I cannot access the faces that I see: they are elsewhere, intoxicated by an energy I cannot touch, an energy I merely savour through the glossy, trance induced look in their eyes…And then I realize: I am being taken. We are being taken. Taken under. We are being taken under as Pervasive Magnetic Stimuli break the mirror, and for a split second allow us to have a glimpse at what lies beneath the surface of our expectations.

Mariana Nobre Viera, International Notice 1rst. november 2018, http:// internationalnotice.org

 

Cullbergbaletten’s “Hyper” is a remarkable, compelling masterpiece and a rumination on the “wired” nature of modern life. It is not to be missed, writes Örjan Abrahamsson.

While watching the performance I am struck and fascinated by Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir ’s choreographic consistency. This impression lingers after the curtain falls, as does my awe at the impressive concentration of the four dancers. I’m also left mildly amused, vaguely bored, and pensive – but not particularly interested, let alone moved. It is only later, as I make my way home – alone, having parted ways with my companion – that the performance’s magnetic force begins to sink in. Gradually, my intellect catches up with the intense, physical experience of the ballet. This makes “Hyper” a prime example of perhaps the most unique aspect of the greatest choreographic accomplishments. It takes a fair amount of time for the subconscious and the brain’s limbic system to communicate the physical body’s reactions to consciousness. When this connection finally occurs, the effect is overwhelming. Such is the case with “Hyper.” It is shocking. Long-acting. Let’s take it from the beginning.When taken at face value, “Hyper” is almost provocatively simple. The curtain rises on four dancers. Two are standing, while the other two lie on the floor. Their placement is reminiscent of a crime scene photo. Blue-white floors shimmer against a backdrop of white curtains. During the 50-minute performance, the dancers move convulsively in extreme slow motion. They are never more than three meters from their starting points, yet some small part of their bodies remains in constant motion. It is as if they are trapped in setting cement. Aside from four short song clips, “Hyper” is accompanied only by Tibetan throat singing – strange, discordant, and vaguely synthetic. That is all. Yet this is a hyper-professional performance. It is not without reason that Guðjónsdóttir has become one of the decade’s most acclaimed and sought-after choreographers. Her work is highly conceptual, yet at the same time, it is of course fundamentally based in the human body. This dichotomy can be seen in Guðjónsdóttir ’s early solo, “Soft target,” (DN 14/10, 2012) which “Hyper” resembles in many respects. At the same time, it is a completely different work. Both works are based in the existential, but “Hyper” is also a chamber play about the shortcomings of social life. As with all significant works of art, “Hyper” leaves room for layer upon layer of interpretation. Personally, I find myself hung up on the dystopian undertones of the performance – on its questioning of how today’s stressful news cycles, our inextricably wired lives, and social media affect us. Of how they affect mankind. Rather than increasing our freedom, this interconnectivity creates a lack of patience that is effectively portrayed by the physically stammering, even catatonic individuals on the stage. They also appear unable to communicate with each other. At the same time, Guðjónsdóttir offers hope. She demonstrates and reminds the spectator of the sensational physicality of the human body, and, if only we are attentive enough, of its unmistakable presence. In the best case scenario, it is only when we see and recognize our own (and contemporary society’s) spastic condition that we can “chill out,” relax, and be freed. In short: “Hyper” is a stunning, captivating masterpiece. It is not to be missed.

01.03.2018 Örjan Abrahamsson, Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm

 

Internal emergencies

And it is true that something incredible happens in this “conspiratorial ceremony” in which Gudjónsdóttir involves five dancers, most often separately. Little movement, no interaction or claim of communication with the space or the public. The hyper-state is an internal affair. And yet …No one, probably, has ever been so successful in rhyming with a state of choreographic urgency. Many contemporary choreographers have, however, got down to work. Without much result. Feeling what is going on within the body or mind of an interpreter usually requires the viewer to have an acute divining ability.
The Conspiracy Ceremony changes the game. With her research on myofascial release and her personal approach to somatic practices, Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir has opened doors to the invisible and buried body memory. The performers manage, with a minimum of gestures, to create energetic fields that link their bodily presence to very powerful and almost palpable mental ones.

Date: 22/05/2018 Thomas Hahn dansercanalhistorique.fr BAGNOLET

 

 

A soft punch in the face against the performance requirements

“ In the blind spot is one of the most interesting new pieces by Margret Sara Guðjónsdóttir.
The non-performing body can have an extra charge – that provocation in a targeted community, as a target for various projections or concentration levels of the audience’s consciousness in a dance performance. All this and much more is available in the Icelandic choreographers Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttirs consistently drilling work… she has stood out as one of the most interesting new artists presence to follow. The austere, minimalist and for both dancers and audience endurance demanding form is even more extreme than in previous work…deeply fascinating and scary… where physical transformation and social criticism go hand in hand. “In the blind spot” can be seen as an act of defiance, a soft punch in the face to contemporary ideals”.
Anna Ångström, Svenska dagbladet, 12/04/2016

 

And we wait: Andrew Edwards is both excruciatingly bored and enormously impressed by Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir’s inertia-ridden show.

The design of the work is brutally effective: a very beautiful kind of ugliness presented to us with notable precision…Throughout, I was never entertained, never distracted, but only ever trying to distract myself from the work. These are some of the work’s most impressive qualities, so well executed that my distractions failed time and again…what ensures SPOTTED is an engaging piece of work, and confirms that it contributes something new to this discourse, is the exceptional affective force it possesses. Not only does it articulate this quality of inertia, but it forces its audience into that state, or perhaps opens up a space in which that state, otherwise felt as an undercurrent or a dust, overwhelms you.

Andrew Edwards Exeunt Magazine, 06/05/2017

 

Breathtaking view of our times on exposure

“The Icelandic choreographer Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir, that resides in Berlin, works with phenomenal consistency. With lightness in execution, she builds to her account an unpleasant scene incorporating the gaze when working with space and time with a heart-stopping complexity evolving around themes such as identity, body and subject versus object (…)The compulsive vulnerability in the performance SPOTTED clings to the mind as an irritable yet great judgment of our time”.

Anna Angström SvD Kultur, 24/11/2014

 

With minimalistic precision

This constant flow of information gushing over the non shielded human being comes to a point of no return/ a turning point which creates physical and psychological stress when the exploitation works as if it is integrated on a personal level in the non shielded human being. The dansers Louise Dahl and Marie Ursin give such a strong and impressive performance that it ́s hard to differentiate between the artistically crafted physical work and the bigger picture of the performance. It ́s simply all existing there together as one.

Ingela Brovik, Danstidningen, 03/12/2014

 

“The quality is not just produced by that age old playing with the gaze. There is also a slowness, seemingly born of an endless exhaustion; the infernal silence from which Peter Rehberg’s music is created and of course the quality is produced by the Icelandic choreographer Margrét Sara Gudjónsdóttir’s movement art, like a puppet hanging from a string”.

Arnd Wesemann, tanz, 08/2014

 

“Again and again we see exhausted bodies, retreating within themselves. There is hardly communication between the protagonists. Each one going their toilsome way. Everyone is exhausted. It is in this weakness of the human body where the choreographer searches for the body’s strength and she succeeds, by parading this weakness, without any one secret, in the bright light […] Blind Spotting makes a mirror out of the public and out of the actors in which they mutually look at themselves for three quarters of an hour.”

Aura Cumita, Neue Deutche presse, 16.06.2014

 

“Choreographers have tried in a variety of ways to challenge the traditional relationship between spectator and performer since the radical re-workings of dance in the sixties. Icelandic choreographer Margrét Sara Guðjónsdóttir continues in the spirit of these liberating experiments with her piece,Variations on Closer. Her work features three highly individualistic looking women, minimalistic dance and experimental, electronic music by Peter Rehberg which becomes another distinct presence on stage. The performers confront the gaze of the audience and manage to expose each one of us as much as they expose themselves. Their powerful command of the gaze deflects ours and becomes a shield to protect their vulnerability…Variations on Closer is hard work. You are implicated in the performance, you cant hide in your seat. You dont get any closer to the protagonists. However it is effective in that it presents women performers who take control and empower themselves not through theatrical devices but through the gaze…The performers confront the gaze of the audience and manage to expose each one of us as much as they expose themselves. Their powerful command of the gaze deflects ours and becomes a shield to protect their vulnerability.

Josephine Leask,The Dance Insider, London, 3rd of October 2014

 

No flutter of an eyelid is accidental

“Step Right To It”, by the Icelandic choreographer Margrét Sara Gudjónsdóttir. The four person choreography is minimalist and authoritative in front of its dark blue semi circular curtain. Everything is in slow motion. The performers – three women, one man dressed in everyday clothes – crawl on all fours, sometimes with a predatory elegance. They step out of the curtain and sink to the floor again and again, seeming as if they are about to faint or are in pain. They enter from the right, disappearing again to the left taking a very long time. Each tired flutter of the eyelid seems choreographed. Almost nothing happens, there is almost no variation, yet the timing is immaculate. A tense anticipation is built in which you await every change of lighting, music or personnel. Above all however, the 40 minute long “Step Right To It” shows a completely unique, wilful signature – all achieved with the least amount of original movement. There is a very special mixture, there is rigour and there is dramaturgy. That is also something not so easily copied.

Sylvia Staude , Frankfurter Rundschau 10.06.2014

 

Equally interesting and affecting is the Icelandic choreographer Margrét Sara Gudjonsdottir who created the solo Soft Target for the dancer Johanna Chemnitz. It begins in the thick darkness where a man’s voice disturbs our minds with nonsense. The dancer, dressed only in bra and shorts, exposes every muscle and twitch. Her eyes are closed at first her and she seems to shrink instinctively from something. The dancer tries to orient herself in both her own body and space, like an animal that is frightened out of his burrow and blinking against the light, to us who see her. The electronic sound is amplified to the pain threshold while the dancer switches with pressure between various movement fragments. She reflects in our eyes but is also trapped in it – a soft target. Soft Target is a consistent and thought-provoking unpleasant solo that leaves traces in the viewer’s body and raises awareness of how we read of the environment.

Anna Angstrom, 22.05.2012
SvD Kultur Sweden

 

Effective and clever;“Soft Target” manages to reinvent the wheel
The incredibly simple concept behind the performance is intimidatingly effective, pure, clever and persistent… Soft Target is an exceptionally thought out piece both physiologically and psychological. Managing to be captivating as well challenging it is a true piece of art that transcends itself.
Örjan Abrahamsson 14.10.2012
Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm