Dance Theatre Journal

ETHICS, ORIGINS, HISTORY: Tanz im August 15th Birthday


Superamas, a collective of artists from various disciplines, presented several installations in Podewil at the beginning of the festival which used and recycled cinematic conventions, theatrical clichés and representational devices. Billy, Billy for example was a video projection, made in collaboration with the Austrian dancer Milli Bitterli, which assembled an eclectic film collage of references, including Mike Leigh, Woody Allen, and Pedro Almodovar, to create a bricolage of original footage and partial reconstruction by the performers. A fragmented narrative reworked these texts, foregrouding the allure of cinematic representation and the seduction involved in audience identification with stars and their stories.

In Play Mobile three performances stood in poses reminiscent of film stills while lights at various heights and angles around them flicked on and off, casting changing shadows across the faces of the audience members gathered around the edges of the room. Again partial narratives could be constructed from the characters or situations suggested by the poses, but these were disrupted by the constantly shifting perspective caused by the strobing lighting and the non-linear development of the imatgery. Diggin’ Up, another light installation, was also concerned with perspective -  a wall of pinprick lights pulsated in pitch darkness whilst figures walked slowly past, discernible only from by deduction as human shapes broke the pattern of light. The darkness, and the slight movemement of the wall, created a disorientating feel of optical illusion which raised an uncertainty over whether the figures were actually in the space, or created in your brain as it processed and translated the information from the lights.

The installations were followed by a bus ride to Dock 11 for the performance BIG 1st episode. In a space set up as mock film stage with two locations – a sofa and a large jeep – banal soap opera narratives were played, rewound, edited and intercut with an interview with a professor talking about artificial intelligence and the anthropomorphic projection of emotion onto machines. Within the hackneyed dialogue, various inserted texts were exposed through repetition, and voiceovers and lip synching further deconstructed the „originality“ of their performance. They even reconstructed Spike Jonze’s video for Fatboy Slim’s Praise You (which itself adopts a simulated documentary styel to represent a community group of dancers in a mall), and finished with the two women in the company in bikins draped over the jeep while a performer adopted the smarm and pattern of a car-show salesman, selling Superamas as a commodity to the audience. Although all of their work therefore seemed to relate in various ways to representation and the consumption of imagery, there was no clear political polemic or ideological stance (although obviously ther is an element of critique implicit in their fragmentary reproduction) aned ultimately the audience had to develop their own analysis of the products offered to them.


Martin Hargreaves, Dance Theatre Journal, Volume 19,3,2003