During the development of the piece the monologue transforms itself into a language cosmos. It is no more a timeline marked by pauses as spaces in-between but it’s the spatial qualities as such becoming more and more present and create something new. This new is a cosmos consisting only of language spoken and sung; as opposed to the ancient idea of a cosmos it is not a given order that guarantees stability but a space that continuously originates anew from different positions. It is the space(s) and the spacing in-between and beyond stability and instability, continuity and disruption we are trying to find and create.
Narziss / Echo | installation shot
This cosmos consists of a voice, of language spoken and sung but it is neither text nor sound, neither music nor literature as such we are producing; we try to open the space(s) in-between sound and meaning. So, although this cosmos carries songs and lyrical poetry parts, it is not a concert and it is not a reading you are listening to. It is only language we are working with (and not sound material of all sorts…) because we want to change the perspective from a space opened by language (an imaginary space, created e.g. by a story) to spaced language. We need this reduction and focus on words only in order to achieve a twist from story to space by using the same means: The cosmos created by language is not one that is merely being told, but it is here and now in the space of words and the words in space. This cosmos is not about a story, it is not about a dialogue; neither is it about physicality as opposed to meaning; and although there are more fragmented zones and more linear ones deconstruction and liquefying is not our main goal; neither is alienation of pre-existing sounds what we are working with (we record and then change very little, we don’t use effects…). Instead of or beyond fragmentation and linearity, beyond solid and liquid we try to think of the possibilities of aeriform movements; instead of or beyond deconstruction and alienation and thus working on the meaning and identity of words or sounds we want to space them. This asks for another practice, not only of making but also of listening to it and being in it. We don’t know it – we try it.
It is the mythological Echo, our preoccupation with her, that led us to such a space. The cave she turns into, the pure resonance she is, the voice that only answers and thus transforms enabled us to think of an Echo not as a poor and paranoid chamber of always the same but as a rich and full cosmos. Finally, all the material we produced during our long engagement with the myth, all the different words, tunes and rhythms we found in response to her: the melancholic, the somnambulant, the demanding, the sad and the desperate, the longing and the fulfillig… are building, forming and moving the narcotic Echo space of this piece.
In the myth there is no development; but there is transformation. This change without progress is essential to our artistic search for working with time as space, our interest in making pieces with a beginning and an end but beyond narration.
Charlie Fouchier | Narziss / Echo at imagetanz Festival, Vienna | March 2017
The myth of Narcissus and Echo (as it is told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses) deals with the relation of image and word, look and voice; love, pain and death, unity and separation are in this complementary and impossible relation between two senses. Although famous as the myth of self-relation par excellence it confronts us with otherness and alterity: Narcissus falling in love with someone he does not recognize as being himself until the moment when he realizes that the image does not speak; Echo transforming the words of others into her own and becoming the space of transformation as such: a cave. The myth of Narcissus and Echo echoes Plato’s allegory of the cave by transforming it from a place about vision, knowledge and exit into a space of sound, love and reception.
For Narziss / Echo – linking only the names, leaving the relations between them open to all directions – we take the myth in its spatial and relational aspects: Narcissus as centre, Echo as being everywhere; Narcissus as vision and reflection, Echo as sound and resonance.
Narziss / Echo consists of movement and voice. Inspired by Caravaggio’s Narcissus (1597–1599) and its tension between attraction and levitation the dance is centered on the look: looking on oneself, looking outside (horizontal), looking upside (vertical), looking at others; at the same time looking and being looked at, (not) getting in (eye) contact. Looking is a way of relating to oneself and to others and this relation is choreographed and exposed in the movement. It is so not only on the side of the dancer and his looking/being looked at but also on the that of the audience who is looking at the performer but also looking at itself: The elliptic space and the distance between the chairs expose the audience members and make them visible for each other.
The corresponding element in the monologue is the pause. The rhythm of speaking is organized on the pause as space and not as a break-up and interruption. The monologue pauses in moments when the text opens up in all directions – nothing and/or anything could come now, the pause gives space. Thus the monologue relates to others: it is not addressing the audience, it is not directly speaking to it but it is giving space to it.
Both, the solo and the monologue, are traditional ways of aesthetic self-relation. In Narziss Echo they are exposed in their respective qualities of being relations to others. They do not enter into a dialogue between each other but rather create different spaces of contact with and resonance of/for the audience.
In the beginning and in the middle the performance is transformed. The solo becomes an image, two videos frame the choreography; they show the dancer moving in two different spaces. As part of the piece the video image is not an image of space, it is an image in space: it opens up another space, an outer space right here in the installation to which it belongs.