Choreographer Anne Juren and director Annie Dorsen collaborate on Magical, which uses the canon of feminist performance art and the rituals of a magic show to play with illusion, trickery and transformation. The simultaneity of magic, choreography and performance leads to surprising turns: all deploy the power of metamorphosis, of the body, of the magic object, of the audience’s vision. These transformations affect the spectators and arouse in them the desire to see through the events on the stage. In the process they themselves become the object of a manipulation. Juren devotes herself to the efficacy and secrets of the female body, in an enchantingly spectacular way.
Juren and Dorsen work with five iconic and influential performances from the period 1965-1975: Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen, Cut Piece by Yoko Ono, Marina Abromovic’s Freeing the Body, and Interior Scroll and Meat Joy by Carolee Schneemann. Each piece is subjected to a process of inversion, in which the assumptions and ethics of the originals are turned upside down. Where the original artists privileged transparency, authenticity and the democratization of art, Juren and Dorsen go for illusion, constructedness and virtuosity. The gaze of the spectator is likewise brought into question – oscillating between two kinds of vision, both charged with ideology, history, and layers upon layers of accumulated readings.
Putting these historical feminist practices into the context of a magic show is a radical détournement, which raises questions about the position of the contemporary female artist. Nearly all of the symbols of the cultural left rebellion (from punk rock to drag shows) have been drained of their political power, as they have been, one by one, commodified and folded into a capitalist entertainment framework. The feminist performance art practices of the 60s and 70s have up to now resisted this treatment – they have rather been (at least for the moment) erased, because they couldn't quite be appropriated.
Through this process of dragging the feminist body-art canon into a slick, entertainment package, we can look in a new way at the contradictions of our contemporary situation. Not only the contradictions of contemporary feminism (feminism without activism, without anger, mostly without even naming itself as such), but also the contradictions of contemporary art by women, and the contradictions of the contemporary female body -- which is in a way liberated, but still objectified -- which is still an embattled body, but isn't supposed to be.
Realisation Annie Dorsen and Anne Juren
Performance Anne Juren
Magician Steve Cuiffo
Music Christophe Demarthe
Stage Roland Rauschmeier
Light Bruno Pocheron with Ruth Waldeyer
Costume Miriam Draxl
Blackbox Teatr, Oslo: October 2012
ImpulsTanz, Vienna: July 2012
Dansenhus, Stockholm: May 2012
Brut, Vienna: January 2012
Sommerszene, Salzburg: July 2011
Kampnagel, Hamburg: June 2011
Théâtre de la Cité, Paris: April 2011
Teaterhuset Avantgarden, Trondheim: April 2011
BIT Teatergarasjen, Bergen: April 2011
Side Step Festival, Helsinki: February 2011
ImpulsTanz, Vienna: July 2010