-posted by P. A. Coleman
We are confronted with immediate vulnerability: two bodies, completely bare, lie parallel on stage. Act normal. There is the usual pre-show chatter, with just a hint of reservation at its edges. Should we look or should we not? At the smallest sign of movement from the stage, we go quiet. Lights.
Charlotte Vande Eynde and Kurt Vandendriessche have made a visually rich map through the tricky landscape of intimacy and self-identification. Using projected video their nude bodies become canvass for dynamic trompe l’oeil- A lover is marked deeply by a partner, a woman becomes a storage cabinet, a broken man is made whole. These images have amazing depth against the performers skin. It is difficult not to squirm as flesh appears to become clay, pounded and molded by disembodied, violent hands. As the work progresses, projection is abandoned as the two performers begin to interact, relating to one another in obscure rituals, both sensual and disturbing. At one point, they are joined at the head, their faces erased by a glimmering tube that joins neck to neck. It is an image that Hieronymus Bosch might have painted, had he wanted to create a portrait of two people in love. As they move slowly to the brisk rhythm of Tarantella del Gargano, they reach out for one other with glacial feints and dodges- an impossible dance.
Map me is a meditation on what it means to be a “Me,” in the hands of another “Me.” It reminds us that the act of intimacy between two people is not always gentle. We make marks on one another, we take and fill and consume. There are times when we move together, are tied to one another, and when separation comes, it can be a struggle. Sometimes we are broken down, and the act of being fixed is just as violent and loud as the act of breaking. Truly, aren’t they sometimes the same process, just one the reverse of the other?
It takes both performers touch and co-operation to create the final images; after which, they ask to slip away, forgotten. But before they leave the stage, attention is turned towards us, in the audience. We have consumed the image of their bodies for an hour and suddenly we are reminded of our own- as vulnerable beneath our clothes as the two nude performers, on stage, when we entered the hall. So, what do we do now? Act normal.