Mette Edvardsen, Bologna, Raum

by Piersandra Di Matteo

Passing through the space and reconfiguring the space of an unusual density. The body doubles in rewind the image of the film. Intimacy and silence. The Norwegian performer inhabits Raum with a chain of retroactions.

The whole experience of the Norwegian performer Mette Edvardsen is contained in the detail. De-teil, (de-cut), cut out from a whole, from the space. This is not for the sake of restoring fragmentation nor to leave behind metonymic echoes of a whole in absentia. For her this is rather a strategy to discover presence. That is the way it is since her first experiments, and this is what we see in the video Stills (2002). The relationship between the action, fixed in poses of pure static presence, and the environmental context of Finish beaches, appears to be an untranslatable superimposition of moving images and photographic exposure. The gap between the apparent immobility of the bodies and the mobility of nature, the flowing of water, the burning of fire, produces a disturbed perception operating in the direction of a tension of the gaze. The bodies, whether naked or as simple figures taken in a snapshot, become more plastic, and nature becomes more real. This illusion of a digital collè refer to an ambiguous spatiality, which is a non viable spatiality, unless one can demonstrate the possibility that the body can be brought back to its very initial state, its zero degree, the minimal state of staying. So then one can cut, or actually carve in it. In the performance Private collection (2002), a breakthrough, of the perspective and minimal, is obtained by tracing an angle with black tape on a white wall, on which few objects, two chairs and a plant, interacts with the body - the body being the measuring unit of the space. The analytical need converts itself into a childlike exploration of the relation between things.
Her works are always de-tailed (de-cut) works, focusing on the boundaries between presence and absence, between stillness and movement, background and foreground, always contained within a frame and the possible negation of it. This is particularly true in Time will show (detail), a performance which Mette Edvardsen presented at Raum in Bologna (Italy) for the Living Room performance event, curated by Silvia Fanti, which resembled a number of performances for small spaces and in direct contact with the public.

Open stage lights. A monitor in lateral and advance position, Edvardsen wearing a yellow jumper and black trousers. Then a sellotape, an old sponge and an empty cardboard box. Walking-s across, creating trajectories through the space, sliding-s along the walls. And then poses. The space, often empty, is kept at the level of a lean and simple presentation.
If the body seems to be duplicating the actions on the video, soon this impression of a direct recording is wiped off. The performance does not take place in the anticipation nor in the delay, in relation to the image displayed on the monitor. The error is not contemplated. The space making is articulated by highly calculated successive actions, paced along a precise time-line which reconstructs in the reverse order the timeline given in the video. The presence is meticulously deconstructed and reconstructed along a reversed succession of a gestural syntax, which is reproduced within a normal temporal dimension, and only partly slowed down, in which the body is able to reabsorb the slightly oscillating quality of the rewind.
The result is an elasticity of the space. The perimeter is constantly transgressed, while the framing is pushed to its edge, to a switch point in which video images and real action literally become a reflection of each other. We find ourselves facing a threshold in where time and movement are clearly beyond the perceptible, and this creates a space of its own, a possible intimate space.

The video functions as a simulation of the real action (and the other way round) and becomes the centre of anything but a virtual creation. Indeed, it strongly calls for the presence of the body which occupies, inhabits, constructs, investigates the possibilities given by the environment within a progression of movements, of simple actions and spatial configurations, drawing a dwelling dispositive which creates an own, intimate typology of being able transform space into a familiar and unknown environment. The movements, which are not purely formal gestures, create a dialog with the surrounding space, they are real actions of a given space.

Published in EXIBART magazine November 2005. translated from Italian by Saida Feresin.