In Animalarium we propose ourselves as domesticated human animals and search to create an intriguing connection between shows using animals and shows using humans. What can it mean to be and perform as a human animal in the 21st century?
We use the screen as a medium to challenge the threshold of how we experience ourselves and each other in real life and on screens. Through an enhanced technological set up and multiple camera perspectives we strive to explore and highlight the „power of show formats“ offline and online, and how they affect the behaviour, thoughts and emotions of the performing subjects and their audience.
Animalarium is researched, developed and performed by artists Lena Kimming (SE/UK), Liv Schellander (AT) and Alexandra Wingate (SE). In 2021 the project will be further developed at Ställbergs Gruva, presented from 14 – 16th October 2021 at 3:e Våningen as part of GIBCA Extended (Gothenburg International Biennale for Contemporary Art) and continue with a production residency at Riksteatern Stockholm.
The project has previously been supported by Vitlycke - Center for Performing Arts, 3:e Våningen, Ställbergs Gruva, Konstnärsnämndens Internationella Dansresidens, The Federal Ministry for Arts Austria, Raw Matters , Göteborg Stad and Tanum Municipality.
Choreographically we search to create a tension between us exploring to “be” other animals, while at the same time confronting the lived experiences of our own conditioned bodies and histories as humans, women and dancers.
Central to our process and the performativity is to enter the work from the imagined perspective of another animal. Through this merging we test and expand our own humanness and animalness and strive to blur the lines of what it can mean to experience and perform ourselves or another. We use the “animal” as our main entrance point to research something about human-centric narratives and patterns of domestication. What can it mean to be and perform as a human animal in the 21st century?
We explore the phenomenon of "Being” and “Show” highlighting an intriguing connection between shows using animals and shows using human animals. Focusing on the relationship between consumption and oppression and how this can transpire via a show format. We specifically focus on the riding horse and dressage to explore notions around control and agency, disobedience and rapture.
To read more about our concept and themes please go to text.
REAL OR RECORDED, WHAT DO YOU PREFER?
In Animalarium we use the screen as a medium to challenge the threshold of how we experience "live" and "recorded". Our aim is to explore methods that allow Animalarium to have two or more show formats happening simultaneously within the same performance. The difference between theses formats is not only that one is live and the other is recorded – but that the cameras are placed in such a way that what it sees, records and streamed is drastically different from what the audience experiences. It drastically reshapes the space and thus also the perception of the performing subject and the rules for how “choreography” is created.
Previously we have invited the audience into the same room as us (the performance room). In the performance room there has always been one camera recording and live streaming. The live stream(s) have been shown either in the performance room, in an adjoining room, or online. This has happened via a projector, TV screen, iPad, a private online streaming platform, or on Periscope (an app that allows people to stream content live). Using one or several of these devices and outlets, showing one or several live streams of the performance room.
TRANSFORMATIONS – A RETURN TO A PRACTISE FROM CHILDHOOD
At the core of our approach to making and presenting is a playful spontaneous creativity akin to how we played as children. It is the approach that underlines how we make, build, and transform our movement materials and scores. And it is recognisable in how we utilize costume and music in process and presentation. It stems from a desire to work with a pleasure driven yet highly creative and complex improvisation practise. And a recognition of what that childhood practise was capable of in terms of exploring identities using humour and ambiguity.
There is also an aspect of homage and nostalgia towards us as children and towards the animals and characters we inhabited in these childhood games. We remember the feeling and almost trance-like state when “playing animal”. And how we, through clothes, shoes, wigs, accessories and make up created different others and tested different identities or stereotypes.
What experience were we looking for in playing that show and testing these stereotypes? Which animals are we? Animals we knew or animals we imagine? How can we “inspirit” the animal in our human bodies, in the context of the live performance? Can we as human animals test our humanness and animalness by trying to experience ourselves as another animal?
ANIMAL MORPHING AND MORPHOLOGY
In our research process we collect observations and interactions with various animals. It is an ongoing practise that happens as a part of our lives. Among others we have visited a stable and ridden horses as well as visited Gothenburg Horse Show, Vienna Zoo and London Zoo. We have also had a dog come to the studio with us.
Because the emphasis is how we experience the meeting or the relationship with another animal we rarely document these meetings. They are mostly left as experience and memories. But when working in the studio we do use other people’s documentation as a part of our process. We look at “wild” animals and tamed or domesticated animals in some kind of “show” format. For example, we looked at documented wild bears in their natural habitat, semi tame bears living together with humans, tamed bears performing in a circus, as well as visit Zoos to look at incarcerated bears.
COSTUME AS MATERIAL FOR IMMATERIAL VALUE
We are informed by cross-dressing, re-shaping, padding or bulking up to create costumes that fuse notions of women’s fashion, every-day clothes and animal attributes. The selection of clothes we work with have an opulence, a campness and often a naïve joyous sense of “too much” about them.
The aesthetics of the costume, the texture of the material, their associations and our personal history are all starting points for us to compose outfits. In the process we engage with them, abstract them, and change them by how we use them, and what they inspire us to do. Our aim is to mutate their original meaning and allow other, absurd, and strange hybrid creatures and qualities to become visible.