Body of Work
COIL Festival, Performance Space New York
January 10-11, 2018
With Body of Work, Australian choreographer Atlanta Eke has created an offbeat meditation on time and space, reifying and redefining the present moment over and over again over the course of an hour. While the piece is technically a solo, it might be more accurately described as a duet between performer Ivey Wawn and a camera which gazes at her from the threshold between audience and stage. With her image projected live onto two human-sized projection screens onstage, Wawn meets the camera’s gaze directly, moving and engaging with her own body doubles until our eyes get lost in loops of visual logic and reason. Wawn’s presence is precise and elegant as she progresses through movement scores with an unchanging stone-faced glare. Together, Eke, Wawn, and the camera–brought to life by designer RDYSTDY and operator Martyn Coutts–slowly but surely disorient the audience, inviting us to reconsider the stuff of existence.
The broad philosophical ground Eke treads with Body of Work is made palatable by a tonal balance between the ironic and the deadly serious. With just the slightest wink of self-awareness, the company dons a plastic aesthetic with nods to campy sci fi. Wawn resembles an outer space villian in a shiny silver bodysuit and shaved head; a series of everyday home objects are repurposed imaginatively as they seem to appear and disappear from thin air. Wawn and a suit of couch cushions, Wawn and the lid of a plastic trash can, Wawn and a large blue exercise ball all become alien as the camera makes them multiply, defy gravity, appear, and disappear. When image has been so torqued and logic so fully abandoned that we do not believe there is anywhere left to go, some well-placed scatalogical humor sneaks in inconspicuously to remind us that in the end, we are all made of the same flesh and chaos. Eke’s gentle irony never sacrifices sophistication–in fact, it’s her deft hand with humor and play that make Body of Work’s space-time inquiry resonate all the more strongly.
Photo: Gregory Lorenzutti