Inspired by queer culture, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz [CH/DE] play with the flow of time and space. The duo works with performances that combine different time periods and often create illegitimate collaborations – partly fictitious, partly cross-temporal.
Through film installations, they revisit recent and past materials (a score, a piece of music, a film, a photograph, or a performance), focusing mainly on a critical history of the photographic and moving image itself.
The duo is participating in the 35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible, which takes place from 6 September to 10 December 2023, presenting a few video installations:
The feeling of being pushed backwards by recent reactionary backlashes is the starting point for the work, which explores resistance practices, combining post-modern choreography and urban dance with guerrilla techniques and elements of queer underground culture. The film is inspired by women of the Kurdish guerrillas, who wore their shoes backwards to walk in the snowy mountains. This tactic saved their lives, since it looked as if they were walking in the opposite direction.
With five performers from diverse dance backgrounds, the film installation complicates the notion of backwards movements and their temporal and spatial meaning. Parts of the walks, solos and group dances are carried out backwards, others are digitally reversed, creating doubt and ambiguities throughout the video.
Installation with HD, 23 min, 2019
Choreography and performance: Julie Cunningham, Werner Hirsch, Latifa Laâbissi, Marbles Jumbo Radio, Nach
The linear model of time, following a concept of progress, marching away from the past and pointing towards the horizon of the future, has always been bound to violence and normalisation. Like the colonial idea that some groups are behind time, and others are ahead of it. Or projecting the future as a fantasy of heterosexual reproduction. It, therefore, seems urgent to create a stage for something beyond, and that’s what the work aims: to think of a minoritarian mode of temporality, where movements simultaneously connect to political despair and utopian aspiration.
In the installation, four performers seem to be rehearsing for a queer time. Extreme slowness, moving in circles, being out of synch, changes of rhythms, stillness and breaks are working on escape routes. The artists employ and often deliberately mix a range of dance elements inspired by hip-hop, dancehall, (post-)modern dance, and drag performance. Even though they noticeably differ in their styles, they connect through sudden similarities, haunting movements, and body memories, producing and shifting their contact points.
Installation with HD and three blinds, 20 min., 2020
Choreography and performance: Julie Cunningham, Werner Hirsch, Joy Alpuerto Ritter, Aaliyah Thanisha
Being in the light, visible, is a political precondition for claiming rights. But queer, deviant, and racialised bodies have often been rendered hyper-visible in order to be scrutinised and policed. Les Gayrillères (the «gayrrilleras») might appear at night, in a deserted club, in a cruising area, on the fringe of a demonstration, in a museum’s basement, underground. They move in the dark, and in spaces of total luminosity, where the blinding lights offer a shelter.
The choreography shows a series of steps for a gay guerrilla, building on the unpredictable power of bodies moving in concert, experimenting with forms of togetherness. Inspired by Monique Wittig’s writings, the Gayrillères’ pleasures are indivisible from the sadness of political backlash: the endless violence in public spaces, and the withdrawal of rights by authoritative governments. The right to opacity, the right to disappear, or to control one’s own degrees of visibility, is highlighted by the performers’ costumes, which are the only sources of light on their march, while their brightness is either too low or too high.
Installation with two-channel video (projection and LED), 18 min., 2022
Choreography and performance: Harry Alexander, Julie Cunningham, Werner Hirsch, Nach, Joy Alpuerto Ritter, Aaliyah Thanisha
Images courtesies of Ellen de Bruijne Projects Amsterdam and Marcelle Alix Paris
Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz have been working together in Berlin since 2007. They produce installations that choreograph the tension between visibility and opacity. Their films capture performances in front of the camera, often starting with a song, a picture, a film, or a score from the near past. They upset normative historical narratives and conventions of spectatorship, as figures and actions across time are staged, layered, and re-imagined. Their performers are choreographers, artists, and musicians, with whom they are having a long-term conversation about the conditions of performance, the violent history of visibility, the pathologisation of bodies, but also about companionship, glamour, and resistance.