An Abstraction that Dictates Reality (after Geta Brătescu)

Manuel Pelmuș

01.11.2018, 6-8 pm

Ongoing action

L40 Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin | November 1-4, 5-7 pm
Ivan Gallery, Bucharest | November 1, 6-8 pm (local time)

Visitors are invited to come and leave the space as they wish during opening hours.

Ivan Gallery proudly hosts the Bucharest part of “An Abstraction that Dictates Reality (after Geta Brătescu)”, a new live work by Manuel Pelmuş presented by ASSEMBLE in collaboration with the Kunstverein am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz.

In Berlin, Pelmuş presents a 4-day, live exhibition that draws on the imagery and ideas of two revolutionaries, each in their own field, in Berlin of 100 years ago: Rosa Luxemburg and Mary Wigman. Pelmuş is not reenacting or memorializing either of them, instead he is interested in the connection between them as revolutionary women, and draws on elements of their life and work as available ‘ready-mades’ for contemporary meanings. The exhibition proposes many images of the single body as a site of resilience and agency, and embodies the political idea that when one acts alone, the act is always animated by the production of others, even if they do not share the same time or place.

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In the Kunstverein, a new ongoing action for a single dancer is performed continuously for two hours each day, synched with a dancer in Bucharest. Although there is no visible link between the two, the knowledge of their shared movements connects audiences across the two cities. The action remediates Mary Wigman’s “Hexentanz”, or witch-dance, originally created in 1914 in the Weimar republic. It is considered a revolutionary piece, opposing the conventions of ballet by covering much of the dancer’s body and using abrupt, ungraceful movements reminiscent of occult interferences. Pelmuş takes this reference from dance history and slows it down drastically. His piece thus plays on the narrative of progress, which imagines Western capitals to be contemporary (at all times), while the rest of the world is always a little late, and constantly trying accelerate. Pelmuş plays with this dynamic by literally ‘slowing down’ history so that the east can ‘catch up’ with the times.

In the second room of the Kunstverein, Pelmuş arranges various references to Rosa Luxemburg, including her personal collection of pressed plants she created in isolation during her imprisonments. His research focused on the philosophical and scientific writings in her letters and “Herbarium” book. The exhibition forms a connection between Luxemburg’s collections and the condition of their making: physically isolated, and yet connected to others. The figure of Rosa Luxemburg is associated with a woman revolutionary from dance history, active in parallel in the early 20th century. Unlike other artistic disciplines, modern dance saw women at the forefront of innovation, producing revolutionary dances which complicated male power structures and introduced women’s perspectives into the modernist agenda. The two women’s personal stories, however, are starkly opposed: Luxemburg was killed for her revolutionary activities, while Wigman, although criticized by the Nazis, managed to wait out the 2nd world war in Dresden and then resume her work.

Pelmuş includes reference to one more woman: Geta Brătescu, the influential Romanian artist who passed away in September 2018. The location of the ongoing action in Bucharest is an exhibition dedicated to Brătescu’s drawings from the Danube Delta, depicting women workers in Socialist times. The ongoing action is thus shared across the cities, but takes on local meaning in each of its settings.

Manuel Pelmuş lives and works in Oslo and Bucharest. He has recently had a solo exhibition at Para Site, Hong Kong, and his projects have been shown at Tate Modern Museum, Museum Ludwig Köln, Cologne (2016); Off-Biennale Budapest (2015 and 2017); Kyiv Biennale (2015); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2014); Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2014); Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie/ Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2014) and Venice Biennale (2013), amongst others.

Performers: Maria Scaroni (Berlin), Elizabeth Ward (Bucharest).

Maria F. Scaroni is a dance artist. She interprets choreographic works, creates dances and hosts dance workshops. Trained independently, moved to Berlin in 2004, where she works as a freelance dancer performing/creating with Jess Curtis, Jeremy Wade, Frank Willens, Tino Sehgal, Vania Rovisco, Hannah Hegenscheidt, Wilhelm Groener, (a.o.). Since 2011 Maria collaborates with Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods, (“Until Our Hearts Stop”, “Sketches/Notebook”, with its following initiative “Supernova”, and “Built To Last”), sharing with her and part of the Berlin dance community, the commitment to improvisation as a performance event (“City Lights”, “Auf den Tisch!”, “Politics of Ecstasy”). Scaroni’s choreographic works focus on the process of collaboration, play with durational experiences and are featured by a crossbreeding between performance, choreography and installation. Maria teaches in Berlin’s University HZT and is involved in developing independent training programs (in Berlin, P.O.R.C.H. and ROAR) researching the body as material. She holds a Masters degree in Italian Modern Literature, with a thesis on education and dance.

Elizabeth Ward is a dancer, choreographer and performer currently living in Vienna. Her work references ballet without being Ballet. Currently she is developing a practice called “An End to Apocalyptic Thinking” and is living her teenaged dream of playing bass in an anarcho-punk band with Ausländer. Upcoming projects include dancing with Frédéric Gies in his new production “Queen of the Fauns”.

photo credits: Cătălin Olteanu


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