March 30, 2019
Belgian visual artist Miet Warlop brought Ghost Writer and the Broken Hand Break to HAU, Berlin for its German premiere, the last weekend of March: 45 minutes of contemporary Western whirling dance inspired by the Sufi dervishes.
Three performers, Warlop included, spin in a constant circle, first in silence, then to techno-melodies, before passing on to instrumental tunes. The silence is accompanied by their sighs and some body clapping, the techno is interrupted by texts that are sang or rapped, while the instrumental part is features electric guitar, bass drum and cymbal that shine under the moving stage lights.
The Sufi ceremonies are meant to induce to a state of religious ecstasy. In this case the whirling dance is a metaphor for a compulsive contemporary Western rhythm that never stops (except for a mere moment) in a vortex that seems to be ceaseless.
The texts are enigmatic and poetic but without having the printed version in our hands, it would not have been possible to decipher what they were singing. “Absolute, Relativisation, Relative relative, Absolution” goes the refrain. Part of the main text reads:
In the ending of eternity
I’m the border in infinity
Like a mirror without reflection
or a talk without connection
The full text is available here.
A playful childhood and disillusioned adulthood seem to merge not only in the texts but also in the composition of the piece; explosive and controlled at the same time. Out comes out a desire to let go and simultaneously to refrain, as a projection of the western contemporary modus vivendi. Duties versus freedom and vice versa. This vivid reflection on the spirit of our times is felt, embodied and beautifully performed.
Absorbed by the constant and rapid round and round movement, it is possible to become immersed in a state of meditation, both for the performers and audience, the latter invited to sit around the stage creating a spiritual circle; an amphitheatre constituted by bodies.
Self-control and devotion, two aspects that can be seen apart, are interwoven in a crescendo of self-awareness and dedication. There is a sort of pungent energy that is released through the performers voices as they whirl; a way to set themselves free.
In a controlled yet liberating practice, they channel their presence between two dimensions, somewhere that has happened to become an abstract time and space.
Miet Warlop, once more, disseminates a fresh and vibrant energy in the real spirit of the zeitgeist. The techno all-around, the impactful basses that resonate under the feet and in the stomach, and the compulsive spinning with impactful voices, are an excellent metaphor for the reality we live in.