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Title: Thank you very much, I don’t dance Editors: Fredrik Ehlin Andjeas Ejiksson Oscar Mangione Translation: Caroline Åberg Graphic design: Andjeas Ejiksson Contact: info@gou-edit.org Issn: 2000-2602


Method Quarterly no 2 September 2011

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Method Quarterly no 2 September 2011

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It is not necessary to know the underlying intrigues and contexts that lie behind a play, and it is seldom possible to account for all the stories that lead to the first scene. It might however be interesting for the reader to know part of what must be left out, or what falls so far between the lines that it cannot be perceived. Like so many other stories, this too starts with an invitation. There are probably other origins, but this seems to be the right place to start. Bonniers Konsthall was planning an exhibition on the theme translatability. The insoluble relationship between a spiral and a square in the novel “Avalovara” by Osman Lins became the basis for the work of the editors. Already at this point, something indefinite appears that will characterize the subsequent months’ discussions and the events following. Not least as the invitation to take part in the exhibition also was an invitation to read a novel and do a radio show. The road that leads to the script you are about to read is lined with countless sidetracks and labyrinths, the one stranger than the other; not until the editors give up and hand over the responsibility to the role and the actor, a possible solution for what a play might involve appears on the stage, which is partly set up, partly needing to be invented. Even though you occasionally have a presentiment of a discussion of translatability, the relationship between exhibition, manuscript and radio is constantly in the foreground. Cecília can no doubt be seen as a translator. She is the one that sustains the relation between text, exhibition and audience; she is both inside and outside the manuscript, inside and outside the exhibition to which the actor belongs. Cecília is a translator to the extent that the actor and the role are translators, and to


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the extent the manuscript of which the role is a part, and the exhibition the actor roams through, are of a kind that they can leave their alleged attributes such as text and exhibition behind and become something else—voice and motion, a body that acts. With this said, however, one needs to bear in mind that there are other and maybe better ways to describe this complex than in terms of translatability. For the reader who seeks a context for “Thank you, I don’t dance”, it is close at hand to refer to Method Quarterly’s first issue, which attempts to formulate a notion of ‘role critique’ by way of a reading of the now discontinued magazine Geist and its claim to be a scene for critical discourse. The role is then not so much a translator as a way to orient oneself by getting lost, and the other way around. With the risk of making a parody of an idea, the drama where Cecília is the main character is an attempt to try ‘role critique’ as theater. Cecília, played by Thérèse Brunnander, arrives at Bonniers Konsthall and the exhibition “The Spiral and the Square: Exercises in Translatability”, and besides a sound engineer and a small group of people that follows her, she is alone. She speaks to someone who is not there, and to someone who is there.


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[Sounds of a horror movie. Cecília lingers a short while in a dark room that has a video projection on one wall. She steps out into the entrance hall. She is wearing shoes with heels that make a sound on the concrete floor.] Cecília talks about what she has just seen. [Stops. Changes her tone of voice, like a radio host announcing a show.] – Today’s date is September 28th, it’s almost seven o’clock, the sun is closing in on the horizon and I am in the entrance to Bonniers Konsthall, where a temporary screen printing station has been installed, looking quite nice, with prints mounted on plywood on the wall. [Cecília makes a gesture towards the workshop.] – I’m Cecília. [Short pause] – I was brought in as a replacement on short notice, and the information I’ve received has been … not insufficient … but fragmentary. My predecessors had created a quite clever fiction, which could explain and give everything its place in an intrigue. Someone had been found drowned in a lake, and despite not being able to


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identify the body, a significant property had been associated with the dead. The plot would twine everything together into a story. In addition, the whole thing would remind you of a novel, a specific novel, but this was eventually washed overboard as well. The story was suitable for some things but not for others. And in order to be suitable for everything (which was the idea) they saw it necessary to distort, speak vaguely, as if the coherent was just a mumbling … There was a void, a withdrawal into a web of arbitrary relations … I was supposed to be the lawyer, representing the estate of the deceased. Now I’m just Cecília. [After having left the entrance and wandered through part of the exhibition, Cecília reaches a large room with a panorama view and symmetrical constellation of piled concrete tiles. She walks around in the room, leans down and counts the tiles in one of the stacks. Quickly, more or less to herself.] – One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen. [Cecília circles the constellation.] – 19, 1, 20, 15, 18, 15, 20, 1, 19, 1, 20, 15, 18, 15, 20, 1, 19, 1 … [She sits down on the stack she just counted. Gazes upward.] – Amount and volume … Volumes in other volumes … You have twelve bags, but it’s impossible to understand how they can be the same. You take the bag and use it as a bag; you put the other


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bags in the bag. The bags are bags … Perhaps you are amused by this kind of simplicity—simply counting. My predecessors weren’t. [Cecília makes her way towards what looks like a map or some kind of diagram of words and sentences in different languages.] – On the wall over here someone has made a diagram. It is concrete and very simple: short sections indicating various affections, landscapes and objects. The whole thing looks like it’s arranged typologically, but it’s hard to give a more detailed description since the diagram is based on a system of references that’s not entirely clear to me. Here and there I spot the symbol that leads to a hidden postal system in one of Thomas Pynchon’s novels—the muted trumpet. I have a vague memory the organization was called Tristero or Trystero. [Short pause] – I would recognize that trumpet anywhere. When I read the book, a long time ago, I thought the fact that it was muted was so beautiful, and I wondered if the damper had been added because of the mail system being located underground. [With a low voice] – I suspect my predecessors identify me with the main character in that novel. [Short pause]


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– This all takes place in a large room, maybe two hundred square meters with a six or seven meter high ceiling. It’s a peculiar building I’m in, situated on a slope that levels out onto a beach. I see people strolling down there, and birds hovering just above. Tigers prowl nearby. The sun is about to set. Big panoramic windows with tinted glass have been installed in order to protect the sensitive objects that are placed in the room. Thus the museum and the landscape outside blend together; the beaches and the ocean reach out like a yellow and a blue line that, as the sun sets, turns red and then purple, until the blue line merges with the yellow in an exceedingly blue whole. In the outlines of the panorama there are other islands; people reflecting my point of view as if large mirrors had been mounted on the horizon. There are no electric lights in here, and as dusk makes its entrance it gets darker, bluer, and more difficult to make out the objects around me. They disintegrate in the dimness, but a glow from the line of light remains, the last wall of the walls that, layer by layer, formed the city, the houses, the homes and the rooms that now have become overgrown, low ruins. [Footsteps. Meanwhile, Cecília has left the main hall. She makes a sudden lunge against a metal scaffold covered in palm leaves, cloth and lamps—some kind of totem figure—as if to scare it.] – The strange thing is not what you see but that you see … Suddenly you see, and become … [Pause. Something catches Cecília’s eye, she squints. It is clear that she is observing.]


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– Excuse me … [Short pause] – There is some kind of wrestling going on over there … Two naked men are slowly balancing. They are wearing hoods that cover their faces … Their hoods are tied together … They lean against each other, pull each other, writhe down against the floor … A thrust backwards, the one stumbles after … He grabbed his opponent, to break the fall. He breaks his own fall, stops him … He leans over his opponent who is still halfway on his knees, but gets up. Now they are leaning against each other again … moving back and forth … if one of them gets the other to fall both will fall. Wait! It looked like one of them was about to fall again, but … No, they are resting on each other, they are completely exhausted … I wonder how you win a wrestling match like that? [Short pause] – Now it’s getting violent, a wild, funny dance … They are pushing against their center … like one body! One single blinded body … or one head … in combat … in itself … As if it’s the only time the distance of disguise ceases … As if there was no other language. [Cecília continues to watch for a while, more relaxed, thoughtful. Pause. She slowly walks on.] Cecília describes what she sees.


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– There was something here, in a corner … some sort of sickliness, distorted, yet tamed, a tension between the one and the other. Something you look back on with disappointment and discouragement. It reminded me of … of Awá … I knew her once; she was adopted from Colombia, until she was nine her name was Eva. A sound play where everything slips, where the only thing that remains is arranging the insignificant gliding to and fro … [Pause] – Imagine a bunch of columns, infected by the living. Not alive but life imitated, sort of like in the storefronts of the nice department stores. [Short pause] – Or at a museum. A shot animal that is stuffed and placed before a background painting … That was Awá … And her dad’s confusion, which increased after the death of the mother. Guilt that grew; little things—a Latin American cooking class, then the private Spanish tutor, the name change and, finally, how he cultivated his garden. Palm trees, rubber trees, tropical orchids that died in the cold. Awá … she disappeared without a trace … [Cecília continues out onto the beach. She has trouble making her way through because a thick layer of sand has been poured out onto the floor.] – It’s so simple to sit in a chair on the beach … I think of Saraghina (or Eddra Gale, which was the actress’ name), who sits and looks


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out onto the ocean, archaic and grotesque … She really is that location. She turns around and looks at us … It’s so simple! [A microscope is standing on a shelf; Cecília leans forward and looks into the ocular, which turns out to be a loudspeaker, places her ear against the loudspeaker. Straightens herself up. Cecília picks up a booklet lying on the shelf beside the microscope and starts turning the pages.] – Let’s see … To see … and to touch what is. You must think I’m dreaming: straight ahead of me is a stainless steel cart, like those used in laboratories. On the cart there is a microscope and beside it stacks of grey booklets. I’m holding one of them in my hand. [Pause. She continues to speak, slower and more concentrated.] – I am also thinking about me, and about the situation that preceded my arrival, my predecessors’ attempts, as far as I understand. That they were looking for an all-embracing story to be told by many, in different languages and different dialects, so to speak, but would still essentially be unanimous, simply because they believed that a shared community would already be waiting for them … And then when they got lost, like an anthropologist without a people or an anthropologist looking for a people on the move, always one step ahead, then they turned to the objects, the details, to the somewhat hidden and perhaps unexpected. But all expectations came to naught. Here as well. [Pause]


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– This I can say but never understand … I will stop talking at a given time. [Pause. She continues to turn the pages in the booklet. Thinks out loud.] – And you trust me. [Short pause] – Actually, the thought of my voice sort of becoming an eye feels very good; that you follow my eye when it moves across the text and how the booklet and the hand holding the booklet light up when I start talking again. [Cheerfully] – You are both blind and seeing, seeing the way an ear is seeing, blind because you don’t see. [She turns the pages.] – If this is the case—you being blind and seeing like this—how does the unknown become something and still remain unknown? I mean, how can something not be known? The difference between hearing and seeing remains unknown … and the unknown a notion. What I think and what I do—my life—has lost the possibility to be something else. I, Cecília, am only Cecília. Isn’t hearing also seeing and seeing touching—and isn’t it a reciprocal relation: when you touch something you are also being touched? Then all sterile dreams are destined to fail.


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[Has meanwhile sauntered back and forth in front of a desk and now notices a series of facial composites on the wall.] – Like the first love. First … it’s a part of the experience. [She continues to wander about seemingly aimlessly in the room, speaks while she walks.] – One of these missing faces that have been hung on the wall behind the desk, sketched in the genre of composites, perhaps by a police artist, is … is my first love. [She tries to catch the eye of those present.] – Without going into details I can say that my first love was my third husband—and I can tell you just as truthfully that I have loved all of my better halves, and that I have never loved any other person than one that has been, or is, my better half. [Short pause, then, somewhat theatrically] – I was blind. He held my hands when we spoke. He was a minister. His love was strong and deep, like a light. He was beautiful. I cried. [Matter-of-factly] – We were intimate regularly but not often. It was during these moments that I got to know his face.


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[Short pause] – It’s possible I possessed another, more delicate sensitivity then. Perhaps because of my disability. When he was a stranger to me, it became a confirmation of the estrangement to tell the police artist. And even more so when he just a few days later was arrested after a tip-off based on this image. But I didn’t find out about his crime until much later, when I saw the picture. [Short pause] – Since then I have tried to free myself from everything that seeks to mark and determine the future. [Still holding the booklet, wanders, stops occasionally, wanders. Long pause.] – When you beforehand think you know what a story amounts to, you have already taken a crucial step away from everything you might know. Then it really doesn’t matter what we are in touch with, or if we are touching what we talk about. [Pause] – Here the story is erased from the start. It is what does not exist, or cannot appear. This here tries to violate the story … and leave it. The pretentions of all things are lost in it, in the absence of the story, any fiction and any expectation is possible. [Pause]


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– It was at that point my predecessors fell. They had their dream that by means of the story touch what is real, through … since they believed that the exhibition translated a reality … Of course I too inherit some of this stupidity, but I’m just doing my duty. I realized from the start that translations of reality only exist in the peculiar ability within details to occasionally bring forth a temporary meaning that doesn’t belong to the complete story … which in a way also repudiates it. [Pause] – Like the importunate odor of the naked men I saw wrestling … They seem to have taken a break in their fight … But something remains, a palpable smell of locker room, the before and after the fight, spreading way beyond the location of the battle and blending with the other … not pleasant or repulsive … just importunate. [Sound fades up … and is cut.] – That’s how I would sum up the stupidity of playing Cecília.


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Dora Longo Bahia : AcordaLice /wAkupaLice • Cecília watches and tells about what the actor sees • Rirkrit Tiravanija : Untitled 2011 (police police potato grease) • Angela Detanico & Rafael Lain : SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS • Cildo Meireles: Casos de Sacos • Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster : Textorama • Fabio Morais: Uma linha, ou duas : Carta a um jovem poeta • Haegue Yang : Warrior Believer Lover • Laura Lima: Marra • Rodrigo Matheus : Nature of Construction : The Landscape • Cinthia Marcelle : The practitioner disciple : O collector • Cecília watches and tells about what the actor sees • Maurício Dias & Walter Riedwegs : Juksa • Natascha Sadr Haghighian : The Microscope • Rivane Neuenschwander : First Love • Eugenio Dittborn : The Internment of Malevitch II (Airmail Painting No. 116) : The 26th History of the Human Face (Miti Mota) (Airmail Painting No. 149) • Rivane Neuenschwander: Gastronomic Translations • Sound recording from the opening of the exhibition • João Modé : Vanish

Method Quarterly #2  

On Wednesday the 28th of September 2011 Method Quarterly will implant itself into the exhibition The Spiral and the Square: Exercises in Tra...

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