Axel Andersson on BOATS & On Air

It will collapse. It does not collapse. There is a fan. A fan is blowing fresh air into the plastic light-bulb-like bubble in On Air (with Nadja Hjorton, Jessyka Watson Galbrait, Zoë Puloch and Halla Ólafsdóttir). Otherwise the oxygen would run out and the dancers performing the radio show be left gasping for air finding nothing by the carbon dioxide of exhausted conversation. What is outside of the bubble? A question haunting our age. God? Each other? The world? We are, indeed, unsure. Every query become one of boundaries. The “what” is not a rhetorical question. It is, maybe, more of a starting point.

Mica Sigourney, in his solo BOATS, suggest a much more traditional approach. It is less unsettling, but at the same time more profound. The person is outside. But being outside today means relying on traditions that also seem pass their expiry date, but lingers on, temptingly. Sigourney, in a suggestive performance leaning in Philip Glass, plays the role of the clown after the end of clowning, a mime artist in a world that does not deal with outsides and insides in that familiar way that made mime have sense. There is a sadness in the air.

The bubble of the mock-real-pod-conversation in On Air is, by comparison, giddy. Figuration of sociability. Even when the dancers exit for a while and perform a more recognizable dance routine they are still safe; they laughingly take the bubble with them. A bit like undressing and having all your conceptual clothes on. Stepping into a sauna that is not hot.

When the bubble is full, most autonomous, it is most empty. Sigourney relates to this by not trying to move his position to the centre. His is not revolution. There is a witnessing a play, and the witness is also a traditional role relating to modernity and the move of the marriage between the omniscient narrator and the character. The string of the bow is pulled tighter and harder, but the arrow seem more prone to hit something in the now. Maybe a balloon at the end of the party. Outside in is a more radical position than inside out.

Our age is a failed love affair with the conversation, a forlorn hope that there is someone there on the other side. Sigourney solicits his audience with the tender tools of the trade. It is unclear what the project of On Air wants to do with the spectator and listener. Part radio broadcast, part spontaneous chorography, part conceptual green house. Peter Sloterdijk, come and help! A hippie sing along and a reference to a horror film. An intimacy that is more with positions rather than persons. In one way, a better representation of our era than BOATS, but then again, if the role of art merely was to reflect, it would be so easy to make that it would become indistinguishable from that which lacks the critical gaze. Like reviews that only described. Performance artists that only performed themselves. A time that could not be outside of itself even if it were out of joint.

Relating to the spirit of the times maybe sometimes need the detour around spirit to get to times. At least this is what BOATS with its low key birthday slash funeral wake and meditation over Zeus and the hope of the metaphysical seem to promise. Reality has, otherwise, as in On Air, descend into the ersatz, a history repeated. And it is nice to be in the farce. One can laugh. And laughing is a given replacement for dialogue, for the waiting and for the protention meeting the retention. But the contemporary has very little to say about the contemporary, for this distance is needed, a distance that Sigourney painfully mimes into existence.

Axel Andersson