In an original collaboration with the Greek National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) and on the occasion of the International Museum Day, ARC ventures, by means of the site-specific works of Ioannis Mandafounis and Stylianos Tsatsos, into exploring the fluid boundaries between dance and performance, the interdependence of movement between artists and spectators, and the evolution of these movements in relation to the body of the museum itself in its actual and perceived (symbolic) dimensions.
The work of performer and visual artist Stylianos Tsatsos is an installation performance, a fusion of performing and visual arts practice along the theme of re‑cycling, as this is symbolically illustrated by the characteristic escalator in the new building of the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) in Athens. Moving in both directions (upwards and downwards), this escalator is an integral part of the spatial arrangement of the building's interior, creating a flow path that moves parallel to Sygrou Avenue while diagonally linking the ground-floor reception area with the open spaces on the roof of the museum.
The artist is activating a variable visual installation in order to investigate the concept of the process of decline/fall and restoration of use (recycling), both literally (environmental reality and responsibility) and metaphorically (motion directive, human nature and life). The primary material used in his work is the plastic water bottle in multiple numbers and various sizes, 'enriched' with coins that correspond to the commercial value of each packaging. The escalator at EMST (running from the ground floor to the first floor and vice versa) is flanked by the plastic bottles in a torrential, raucous yet fragile battery, and by the performer as he explores the scope of mobility of objects, people and concepts alike, and represents the routine prescribed for our body and spirit by the urban condition:
Walk about – Walk forward – Walk backwards – Wait – Stop – Run – Run forward – Run backwards – Fall down – Collapse – Recover – Stand up – Be – Become – Repeat – Restart – Recycle.
Ready-made body – used body – neglected body – discarded body – recycled body.
Ready-made bottle – used bottle – neglected bottle – discarded bottle – recycled bottle.
The main inspirational reference for this work, which was designed specifically for the EMST, is the painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912) by Marcel Duchamp, a work at the cusp of the Cubist and Futurist movements' achievements and a prime instance of Modernism's efforts to capture the energy of motion, the relevance of space and time, the mechanics of the body of the world.
Art direction - curation - performance: Stylianos Tsatsos
Be sure you have exhausted all that can be communicated by immobility and silence
Dancer-choregrapher Ioannis Mandafounis and composer and cellist Brice Catherin are jointly creating a work as the dialectic span of their long-standing friendship, which is based on their shared love of art and the awe inspired in each one of them by the expression of choice of the other.
"I never use music in my pieces because I love music and when I hear it I just want to sit and listen to it," Mandafounis confesses. "I never really know what to do with dancers because when I see them I just want to sit and watch them dance", Catherin concurs.
In this work, created for the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST), motion and sound function as plenipotentiaries of their creators, undertaking the task to represent their friendship as a musicokinetic series of encounters and departures, successive comings-together characterized by mutual deference, grace, and care: dance in silence and music in stillness. During these sequences of 10, 30 or 40 minutes, and while time is dilating and space is being delimited, the distance between the two forms of expression is contracting. The attention that each creator generously affords the other, each one's thoughtful awareness of the other's veracity, creates the conditions for genuine communion between their arts.
The work's long title is a maxim by Robert Bresson, which Jean-Luc Godard had committed to memory and used to quote in relation to his film Éloge de l'amour (In Praise of Love). True to it themselves, the two artists invite us to share into the experience:
“Be sure you have exhausted all that can be communicated by immobility and silence.”
Concept: Ioannis Mandafounis
Choreography: Ioannis Mandafounis
Music: Brice Catherin
Production management: Mélanie Fréguin
Production: Cie Ioannis Mandafounis
Supported by: Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, City of Geneva, State and Republic of Geneva, Corodis