Walking on thin ice, or how Mette Edvardsen and Ivo Dimchev don’t need much to draw you in

It’s a line that I’ve always found an extremely intriguing one. A person does something that could easily be perceived as utterly silly or nonsensical. But by the effort, the zeal and the concentration he (she) puts into it, he (she) lifts it to another level. It becomes something else. A performance; worth watching. (And when they fail, it becomes totally embarrassing). I witnessed two prime examples of artists remarkably crossing that line during the opening night of Performatik, Kaaitheater‘s performance festival: Mette Edvardsen (Black) and Ivo Dimchev (I-on). Performatik runs through March 5 and is linked to the exhibition The other tradition at Wiels (through May 1), also in Brussels.

An empty stage. A woman walks towards the audience. She reaches out for something that isn’t there. Table table table table table table table table, she says. And then: chair chair chair chair chair chair chair chair. And the objects appear, even though they still aren’t visible. Some people start to laugh. Mette Edvardsen, in her funny cadence, repeating every word eight times, continues conjuring up new objects and situations. It’s as simple as that, but it works.

Black originated from ‘a desire to make things appear, to do nothing, or no thing’. The piece derives its title from that common practice in theatre to paint objects black in order to make them unseen, to make them disappear. It’s a sheer delight to see Edvardsen (deadpan face) walk and talk, bump into that table, pat the dog and pick up the phone, and it’s funny to see her turn an almost childish game into a successful, short performance. Hers is a concept that, you sense, could be explored even further.

Is she a performer that you almost immediately sympathize with, Ivo Dimchev on the other hand is a performer with a frightening intensity. You never feel at ease with him; not knowing what to expect next. He’s that sweet friend that could easily be a serial-killer as well. His solo I-on is a work-in-progress that will be part of X-ion, which will involve a number of performers.

Starting point for I-on are a couple of sculptures by Austrian artist Franz West. He developed his first portable sculptures, or Adaptives, in the early seventies. They are designed to be picked up and walked around with. West, who once described these ‘fitting pieces that do not fit’ as neuroses made material, asked Dimchev to make a couple of videos for two of them. The videos were on display last year at the Hayward Gallery in London, for Move, an exhibition (unsuccessfully, in my opinion) exploring the interaction between art and dance. Dimchev then asked West’s permission to make a live performance with a couple of these sculptures. 

Neuroses made material. It comes pretty close to a description of Dimchev’s performance: a series of nonsensical, often feverishly intense scenes, involving a blond wig that suddenly becomes a beard, red tulips, a mobile phone and a golden mask. It’s impressive to see how Dimchev crosses that line I was talking about. He fills the stage with his presence, and the intensity he puts into those scenes becomes almost tangible. The way he uses his (singing) voice, records it and then combines several layers of it, only intensifies that eerie atmosphere.

For more info about Performatik, click here.

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3 Responses to “Walking on thin ice, or how Mette Edvardsen and Ivo Dimchev don’t need much to draw you in”

  1. Interesting to read that I wasn’t the only one unconvinced by Move!

    • utopiaparkway Says:

      What a letdown. I absolutely wanted to see it, as it mixes the two main things I’m focusing on for this blog. But I was utterly disappointed.

      • very true, MOVE is an idiotic kindergarden for art tourists. Even not idiotic enough….

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