Holzinger & Riebeek: Spirit
Presented by In Between Time (Spring Showcase)
14 February 2014
We would like to believe that love is the motivation for everything - even if it motivates us to move away from it (Holzinger & Riebeek)
If love is the motivation for everything, we are at once motivated - active and full of agency - and simultaneously passive, driven by this other entity, by this love. Holzinger and Riebeek play out this conflict of agency in their show ‘Spirit’. It is the brilliant movement arising from this underlying tension that informs both the narrative framework, as well as the gestural, image-making body.
Framing the piece is an expression of a supposedly collective consciousness in the live moment: an audience member is asked to choose four tarot cards that dictate the sequence of the show, providing the narrative arc and its subject matters. Yet it is hard to tell whether the cards chosen by the audience member are in fact the ones used; the paradox if they are not, that the whole piece may be designed to look like chance, resounds throughout the performance. When framed by a larger holistic motivational force, which the duo constantly mimic, refer to and satirise, the tarot cards as symbols of chance also invoke complete design, rendering the individual an agent without agency.
Drawing on Eastern imagery, cartoonish gestures, yogic postures, classical sculpture, sex, pop culture and religious symbolism, Holzinger and Riebeek use their bodies to perform iconic imagery that is suggestive of being at the will of some larger force, call it love, culture, collective consciousness… But Riebeek says goodbye to dramaturgy - ‘No theatre!’ - and the beginning of a new start is proclaimed, but fantastically never realised (Holzinger says goodbye to nudity before taking her dress off for the next scene). The audience is implicit in the play on design, acting the ironic part of a surplus-to-requirement dramaturg through the chosen tarot cards; from hanged man in his stasis, to the hermit in his isolation, the lovers and their creativity, the devil’s subversion, and finally the chariot as a symbol of the artist’s success.
These transformations from stasis to movement are recognisable as artistic process as well as romantic love, and are couched in a blasé tone of haphazard improvisation. It is here that the duo seems to get their energy, yet it in turn subsumes the potential coming together of earlier complex narratives. What could be called a prologue to the piece - an infantilised interaction between the two, hidden in cartoonish Eastern masks and voice pieces that distort their childish dialogue - suggests an exploration of relationships between individuals and wider collective processes of culture that is not quite realised. Rather it is curtailed by an enjoyment in the excesses of the image: honeyed glitter pouring from the ceiling, dry ice baths and hula hoop choreographies. Yet this humour is irresistible; it feeds and also disguises the choreographed skill of the performers, giving the piece its provocative movement, deepening the play on what is intentional and what is accident and producing an undeniably ironic and dense performance.