December 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

We weren’t particularly interested in historical references in performance. We were more interested in dealing with the very ambivalent Futurist approach to women—on the one hand they fear and loathe them, on the other they ’re secretly enraptured and entrapped by the feminine. The whole thing started for us with a short fragment of a text entitled Comme si nutriva l’Ardito (How the Shock Trooper Nourished Himself ), where a young soldier proposes that one sever a woman’s legs and torso, devour them, and keep her cunt in one’s backpack. Woman is reduced to a pure object, a pleasure-tool. He removes all obstacles, devours everything that is weak and sentimental—that is, everything “feminine”—so that he may trap these sensations within himself, thereby reducing the need for women to the basic mechanics of sex. There’s a recurring theme of the body as a vessel, a vehicle, armoured, impenetrable (from both directions).

— Soto & Chemin in conversation, January 2010

November 2009 – Performa 09; May 2010 – Door Studios / The Arts Arena / The American University of Paris

created by Carlos Soto & Charles Chemin; installation Christian Wassmann / music Tristan Bechet / with Nicolas Cartier, Jennifer Dees, Clara Galante, Elke Luyten, Joshua Seidner, Alice Stern, Anne-Laure Tondu, Mai Ueda / produced by Luisa Gui and presented by the Italian Academy and the Department of Italian at Columbia University / developed in residency at the Watermill Center, NY / duration 50 minutes

photographs by Pavel Antonov

Pig Pig Pig, 2010

December 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

PIG PIG PIG attempts a new vocabulary of violence, broaching the unspeakable: absence, solitude, the monstrous, anger, horror and pleasure, the very brutality of being–myths supporting otherness; an oppositional otherness, making language and sex attacks on a falsely tolerant society. Incantatory texts intone a melancholy foreboding of a body no longer idyllic but base merchandise; the body as garbage. To celebrate, and also to make present and understand the other, whether real or imagined, is not primarily an analytic activity, but a mimetic one. It is to speak like the other and at the same time remain oneself; losing each other while taking up the other’s identities, shifting mutably between one self and the other, one sex and the other. ‘This way of finding oneself in the other, this objectification, is always more or less, a form of alienation, at once a loss of oneself and a recovery of oneself,’ writes Umberto Eco in The Open Work. Contrarily, there are means of subjectivation by definition of the other, of that which we are not—‘I know who I am because I am not you.’

Defining the other is simultaneously to define the collective. Defining the other is the act that brings the collective into being. Cultural homogeneity effaces the vitality of difference. Applying the formal practice of writing to our bodies—akin to the literary experiments of Henri Michaux or later passages by Pier Paolo Pasolini, both of whose texts we utlize in the work—we begin from movements that speak without expressing detectable or rational (thus, narrative) discourse, exploring elements of variation and erasure as they would be applied in a textual manner.

We are one being split into two halves, good and bad—approaching an aesthetic of revision, fragmentation, doubling. This corrupted speech intones a new vocabulary of violence. Citation, quotation, pastiche, parody, analogy, repetition, rhyme are a means to dislocate the spectator out of a fictional logic, toward otherness. Language does not represent, it cites. It repeats. It forms analogies, thus effacing identification, or definitions of space or linearity. As the two sole performers, we attempt to erase ourselves within the work in order to approach being ‘other ’, thereby achieving a form of contamination, of perversion of self.

created and performed by Carlos Soto and Charles Chemin / July 2010, Moscow Museum of Modern Art / Qui Vive? Biennial / Année France-Russie 2010 / with the support of Point Ephémère-Centre de dynamiques artistiques, Paris / duration: 40 minutes

photographs: 1-4, Aram Haus; 5, Carlos Soto

Have Mercy on Me, 2010

November 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

HAVE MERCY ON ME looks at paradise not through a biblical lens, but opting for artificial paradises—to borrow somewhat from Baudelaire; looking to soil the image of paradise, making of its mystical purity something rather more organic, less ethereal. The quest for paradise is a quest for ecstasy, apotheosis. We present a search for a more prosaic ecstasy, stripped of its sacred element; a search for pure pleasures—masturbation, drugs, fantasy—in a place where none can fulfill you. In heaven, nothing happens. At the center of this journey is the poet—who, after all, invented the notion of paradise. After being torn to pieces, Orpheus remained but a disembodied head. We propose the body as the location of paradise—alterable, inhabitable—in multitude, infinitely permutable; alone, a receptacle of desire.

Etymologically speaking, Paradise, or παράδεισος, refers to a walled enclosure. The performance takes place over 2 hours within a small gutted house, driven by a pulsating incantatory soundtrack; a seemingly infinite repetition of candid moments of domesticity, bodily violence and loss of self.

created by Carlos Soto in collaboration with Charles Chemin / with Nixon Beltran, Charles Chemin, Marianna Kavallieratos, Jakob Oredsson, Carlos Soto / associate designer Mariano Marquez / design assistants Annouk Berenguer, Jean-Philippe Racca / duration: 2 hours

24 July 2010 – The Watermill Center
created as part of Paradiso / 17th Annual Watermill Benefit

photographs: Lovis Dengler Ostenrik / video: Thomas Dobbin


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