Minna Berglund on BOATS & On Air

Boats by Mica Sigourney and On Air av Nadja Hjorton is a part of Turteatern’s festival Very understanding radio dance festival.

The first performance of the evening is Boats a solo performance created and performed by Mica Sigourney, drag artist and performance maker. A loneliness is present, an after-party mood – a sense of what to do with oneself after mingles, rooms filled with people and an intense show. Boats is somehow diffuse and I’m not sure where it wants to take me. Sigourney gives away the end of the performance to a chosen person in the public, letting her read a poem with her baby hanging on her back, looking at us. There is a contrast there, from the poem read out loud which talks about Zeus and golden showers, and the baby looking at us. Sigourney are also using the gaze, after a long sequence of dance he looks at us, putting the gaze of ours in focus. In the beginning of the act it feels like he wants to be alone, not needing eyes looking at him, while he moves to the tunes of his own earphones.

On air the second performance at Turteatern is a playful and humoristic radio-dance-drama created by choreographer Nadja Hjorton. She performs it together with Halla Ólafsdóttir, Zoë Poluch and Jessyka Watson-Galbraith with scenography by Chrisander Brun, sound design by Elize Arvefjord and dramaturgy by Caroline Åberg. Four women have their radio station in a big plastic bubble, which looks like one of those trendy air-plant glass-bubbles you can decorate your home with, or if you want to a lamp, or maybe a uterus. The performance starts with a preamble – a forecast, a dream or a vision about gravity, grey hair and saggy tits – which has the format of the childish horror stories I used to share with my friends when I was younger. The plastic vessel they are in, is both a greenhouse full of ideas and a personal domain which separates them from the outside world. In this bubble, they can talk intimately with each other without interference of men, creating a womanly simmer where topics like cars, animal sex, dogs, monogamy relationships with objects or the Berlin wall, secretion, menstruation cups and death are discussed. While they are talking the plastic-bubble is shrinking, having to get filled with air now and then through the performance.

On air has an agenda pointing directly towards todays stream of different podcasts. It is divided in three sections; broadcasting radio in the vessel, a physical wrestling movement research outside the bubble, and a utopian radio drama with fake wind and sound effects made by the performers. The show is recorded and put up at sound cloud and every performance creates a different podcast. Which brings light to the act of creating a podcast itself, rather than the finished product. Bodies moving while talking creates a choreography – a radio-dance. The physical part where the four of them are always in contact with their bodies, creating animalistic figures, or a moving mass is a joyful fight, a wrestling with tenderness. Which is about giving in, or giving resistance, to say fuck you lethargy. The body’s friction against each other is a supporting act. It is an effective tool to fight apathy, body resistance as a power tool. The women create a body together, with pressure and effort, to feel the heaviness of bodies on top of each other. They’re anchor their bodies together to one shared one. Just as broadcasting a pod as a sharing practice, this is one as well.

In both performances, a blurriness between the self-contained and the shared is present. We are living in a time where the private and the public no longer are to separated domains. Something we clearly see in how art works with borderlines, both within in their own fields of practice (like radio as dance etc) but also to process topics which directly deals with themes touching upon what is me and you and us. Fiction and reality is interlaced. On air is not using fictive characters to create the act, instead they are using their own names, sharing personal information, just like podcasts are doing. Using their own lives as material, intertwining it with dramatic sequences. Everyday streaming of podcast is a big part of many people’s lives – listening to people sharing their personal concerns, from small topics to big ones. Feministic podcasts have been an important tool to break taboo and uncomfortably feelings about certain issues and a fruitful way of opening a bigger field of womanly togetherness. Which is used in On Air. In Boats I’m in away in a situation where I grasp a question of ‘who are you’ and what do you want to do in this dark room, which separates me for a moment from the bright light of a summary May day in Stockholm. I must deal with the aftermaths of intense sharing practices in life, having a harder time to deal with myself alone – like a post-sharing mood a day after party feeling. I feel quite stiff, but On Air breaks this feeling with a humoristic clarity which makes me laugh a lot.

Minna Berglund