Axel Andersson on DEAD

I don’t know which way to turn. Amanda Apetrea and Halla Ólafsdóttir send mixed messages in ”DEAD”. One says welcome; the other growls as the two engage in what appears to be a mild re-make of ”Imponderabilia” by Marina Abramovic and Ulay from 1977, while we enter the silky tent onstage that separates the outside from the inside. The trajectory, the way, the birth canal remains unsurprisingly binary as the black Sabbath gets underway. A world upside down: inversions. Traditional territory. Trash-aesthetics and metal-tenderness where the burlesque become a synonym for the baroque. Existing not existing. Declamations and gyrations with stand-up stage-presence. Sometimes I dream. The velvety coiffures of the two in front of me blend into the waxy silkiness of the tent where a we is being moulded. Pointing to a place beyond the either/or. Maybe there is a way without turning.

The political angle of the specific imponderability, to return to the term of Abramovic and Ulay, lies, arguably, in the treatment of castration. The play with inversions in the sense of aesthetics and visual historical references to witches and Satanism at first do not seem to lead us very far at all. We are stuck with the not-phallus, the without, or, at times, its ersatz. All in all, castration is ongoing, afoot, and confident. In the gloomiest moments it feels like having been Halloween-ed into a toing in froing. But then the trickster starts giving the treats towards the end of the not-Sabbath.

Wild flesh pyramids start to shake until the firmaments appear to dissolve. We glide into it slowly. Now the way is a way that no longer asks for a turn in one of two directions. Delivered into a post-Castration fantasy. Or, gently crashing into it. Waking up from the on/off to appear in a world where one can be seduced by the lack of seduction. It all becomes interwoven textures and the Kiss-make up recedes and is almost forgotten; a rite of fertility without the concept of generations.

Does this all come as the result of a conscious move, or rather of the wiring of the machine? It is probably not very important to ascertain; conscious/unconscious being another binary. But if it were the former rather than the latter, why did the release and the post-castration utopia not come earlier? The rest of the stuff we have to live with every day, beyond introductions. It is repetitive to have to try to build Jacob ladders out of roses and funerary candles and thick verse and to be told that we are a smoke-machine exhaust-cough away from understanding. Dust thou art (and shall return to being), but also such stuff that dreams are made on. Art can take a stand on wanting to escape this model or not, but with Apetrea and Ólafsdóttir it is as though they end up somewhere else without the voyage being intelligible, ponderable, to an outside. Passing from one world to another might be like this, but what do I do with the candles and the dust in my eyes?

Axel Andersson