Reflections on time: remains by Andrew Schneider and Sasha Waltz & Guests

Radialsystem, Berlin
August 29, 2021

Veronica Posth

The premiere of remains by New York artist Andrew Schneider was on March 12, 2020, the eve of the first lockdown. All further performances that season were cancelled. Now, at last, Sasha Waltz & Guests are able to perform it again.

Schneider worked with nine dancers from the company as he investigated the scientific and mystical fields of quantum and human entanglement. The former is a phenomenon at the quantum scale whereby entangled particles remain connected in some sense, so that an action performed on one, inevitably affects the other, no matter the distance between them. Working with the visible and the invisible, he is interested in theatrical storytelling and giving the audience new experiences as he applies modern technology to human experience, interaction and perception.

Sasha Waltz & Guests in remains by Andrew Schneider
Photo Carolin Saage

Schneider worked with the dancers, discussing his ideas and allowing their points of view to help shape the work. Questions and reflections about how we perceive and relate to time, coincidences, and the infinite possibilities and domino effect that one decision in a specific time may have were all part of his research process. Do ghostly events inscribe themselves in the body from afar? Do they have lasting effects on our togetherness? Can invisible forces be experienced? And is there and explanation for how we ended up right here and now?

In remains, time passes normally but also appears to freeze, quicken, expand and slow down, repeat, reverse, or even disappear, which constantly interrupts any sense of linear choreographic chronology. Added to that is the use of stereoscopic lights and the frequent on-off of the stage lighting. The meticulously planned and brilliantly designed connection between movements and lights is executed superbly. They bond in a dependent relationship producing a stream of sensorial inputs.       

While the constant switching from light to dark makes it tiring on the eyes, especially for those in the front seats, the opposition between light and darkness, and the moveable stage in sync with the precise movement, grants a physical and mental experience of the abstraction and deconstruction of time.

Takako Suzuki and ensemble in remains by Andrew Schneider
Photo Carolin Saage

Dancer Takako Suzuki seems to be the cornerstone and the vector of time. She is the oldest on stage and seems to be a beholder of time’s truths. The other dancers are perhaps projections of her memory journey. They enter and exit as robotic beings. They repeat movements, stop, expand and shrink, show expressive slo-mo states of anxiety, fear, dismay and puzzlement.

Time appears as a fully abstract entity yet counted and measured. It is a sort of an illusional phenomenon, yet defines situations, dictates decisions, and allows considerations. It is also a very personal experience, a healer even. An intricate web of thoughts take over as one watches. Realities layer, split and branch off in all directions.

The conclusion is somewhat abrupt. On a gloomy stage a few dark silhouettes move slowly on the floor while some parts of Takako Suzuki ’s body slowly reveal themselves. Suddenly, once more, total black. Time is over. The performance has ended.