CORPS À CORPS
(world premiere 25 feb. 2016, Odeon, Vienna/AT)
With circling movements four dancers conquer the stage. The scenes condense. Human bodies and emaciated marionettes tangle with one another, become knotted, human rubbish heaps, a vibrating sculpture: In the Odeon, Saskia Hölbling is showing her new work Corps à Corps. (…)
Wolfgang Mitterer’s exciting compositional work, full of refined structures, sound colours and noises, condenses the images. Sometimes as if in a horror film. A scenery of haunting figures in a world inhaling death. Breathing mountains of the dead! Full of dark moments with the foreboding of horror.
But one can also only regard this dance in the light of Saskia Hölbling’s choreographic concept: as plays of movement that see their tensions from condensation and dissolving, from the counterpoles of human and non-human and the mutual influence. Exciting!
In the Odeon, with eight bodies, two female and two male dancers, four headless puppets clothed in white, Saskia Hölbling shows the individual sinking into the mass. Escape is hardly possible any longer; the mass repeatedly captures the individual again. With a strange new body language the choreographer conjures up beautiful, impressive images. Bodies in close combat.
It is not love when two people embrace, rub against each other in order to dismember limbs and attempt to rearrange them. The bodies of the dancers – Adriana Cubides, Leonie Wahl, Adrian Hussain and Jan Jakubal – move aggressively, almost desperately; they have their own movement canon but are still similar to one another, avatars of themselves. Resistance is attempted, but is hardly possible. (…)
Essential to this impressive (and also somewhat oppressive) performance is the music composed for it by Wolfgang Mitterer. Uncannily, it threatens, drives the dancers on and holds them up. In the four solos it appears as if they were fighting against the storm of electronic sounds. (…)
The audience in the full Odeon is impressed. The applause is intensive but restrained. Saskia Hölbling, whose Dans.Kias ensemble has existed for more than 20 years, repeatedly shows that she does not rest on her laurels.
After the three-part Squatting Project, with Corps à Corps, the double premiere of dance and music, she has reached a new level, and with her exceptional team has developed a movement canon never seen before.
Hölbling has drawn on two of her earlier works, Assemblage Humain, a solo with a puppet, which was shown at Impulstanz last year, and Body in a Metal Structure, created with the French artist Laurent Goldring in 2012. In Corps à Corps one white puppet has turned into four and the metal structure has become two scaffolds. On the stage, two women – excellent: Adrian Cubides – and two men confront two life-size limb figures.
The dance is an antipode to posthumanism; Saskia Hölbling builds on this too. In Corps à Corps the lamentation corresponding to the zeitgeist is far from the vulnerable and mortal bodies. (…)
In its second half the work becomes increasingly aimless. Possibly this is intentional. Because it may also be that the choreographer wishes to reflect the aimlessness and helplessness of human bodies in the face of themselves and their organisation. If this is correct, then Corps à Corps would be a successful statement that just does not present this confusion radically enough. The dance ends in giving up in the face of insoluble problems.
The music, which is convincing to the last second, comes from Wolfgang Mitterer, the puppets from Gudrun Lenk-Wane, and Gerald Pappenberger is responsible for the composed lighting that follows the rhythm of imminently threatening to go out.
BODIES IN TUBES
(world premiere 10 oct 2014, Tanzquartier Wien, Vienna/AT)
Two bodies attempt to stay inside rubble chutes that are closely linked to one another. As in their two previous works, "body in a metal structure" and "bodies (with)in fences", Hölbling here allows the uncanny to run its apparently abstract course. Again a framework from which the body cannot find its way out. But here the claustrophobia of our existence is most radically revealed: as bodies that are now only the debris of the systems that govern them.
"bodies in tubes", the new work by Saskia Hölbling in the Tanzquartier, is at the same time the completion of the “Squatting Projects” series, which was produced in collaboration with Laurent Goldring.
The projects address the relationship between bodies and urban space. This time there is an installation with rubble chutes by Goldring and Gudrun Lenk-Wane on the stage. In the half darkness the choreography is only vaguely discernable. Hölbling and Rotraud Kern fill the moveable tubes, and disappear into them as if seeking protection. Body parts protrude until the performers have explored every joint of the installation. There is a growing impression of a space that covers their bodies like a straitjacket.
BODIES (WITH)IN FENCES
(world premiere 23 jan 2013, WUK, Vienna/AT)
Brillant: The dance work "bodies (with)in fences" by Saskia Hölbling and Laurent Goldring!
Our society is a permanent building site. One that is permeated with fences and secured by bars. With their oppressive dance work "bodies (with)in fences" in the Vienna Wuk, the Austrian choreographer Saskia Hölbling and the French artist and philosopher show exactly what this policy of blocking feels like. (…)
After "body in a metal structure", "bodies (with)in fences" is the second cooperation between Saskia Hölbling and Laurent Goldring. The first piece has already been a success. The new one has now scored a bull’s-eye.
In an installation made out of construction-site railings, three bodies explore the possibilities of movement, overcome barriers and end up where they started from. Saskia Hölbling and Laurent Goldring have also conceived the second part of their “Squatting Project” for public space, in order to enrich the urban environment. The première took place in the project space of the WUK. (…)
An exciting performance in its difficulty and physical commitment, which would be even more intensely experienced in open space (indoors or outdoors). In the small project room of the WUK the audience is seated on two sides of the installation and as it were sees only half of the moving body images. Moving around to repeatedly change the perspective would be more advantageous. The next performances of this impressive project have not yet been fixed, but (like body in a metal structure, the first part of the “Squatting Project” by Hölbling/Goldring), bodies (with)in fences will certainly be seen in several places, with or without a roof over it.
BODY IN A METAL STRUCTURE
(world premiere 3 may 2012, donaufestival krems, Krems/AT)
A woman in black trousers and a black shirt – Hölbling herself – places herself, head pointing downwards, in a four-metre-high scaffold of metal poles, as used on building-site scaffolding. The planned unstable construction (by Gudrun Lenk-Wane) consists of a pyramid within a cube. Inside, the dancer moves for an hour, climbs up, lets herself down to the floor again, hangs from the supports and shakes them. The scaffold can indeed stand this, but above all its outer parts shake dangerously. The symbolic value of it all is considerable. The philosopher Martin Heidegger was impressed with the idea of the “Ge-stell” (frame). For him it was what “challenges people to bring to light the real as something created.” (…)
For Hölbling this work is the first statement in a whole series of future “squattings” of public places. A start has been made – and very successfully.
In public space – on the bastion of the Albertina – a strange construction of metal rods in which a person clothed in black hangs upside down. It is the choreographer and performer Saskia Hölbling, giving her evening performance "body in a metal structure" at the ImPulsTanz-Festival.
Saskia Hölbling’s evening (developed together with Laurent Goldring) may provide apparently dangerous moments of climbing, but no circus-like art: it is not about the show, but about the conquest and experience of the scaffold. What do you see? Saskia Hölbling coils and swings through the large metal scaffold, sometimes reptilian, then offensive again. The object is explored in changing clothing; sometimes she hangs upside-down on the poles, then she leaps, climbs, lets herself fall, reaches the ground. Repeatedly in between there is the scrutinising look at the scaffold, a measurement of power, an estimation of the opponent. And slowly the tubular structure yields, turns from an object that looks like something from a construction site into a sculpture that has been deconstructed by Hölbling. It is exciting to observe what takes place between the dangerously swaying individual components and the fixed inner construction, and how the conquest of this meters-high object is designed.
In the open air, on the terrace of the Albertina, a metal scaffold – a sculpture by Gudrun Lenk-Wane, that is meant to be conquered. The framework in an unusual place stands for the obstacles and the irritations of the city.
Regardless of whether one reads and understands the explanations of the dancer and choreographer Saskia Hölbling and the media artist and philosopher Laurent Goldring in the programme, or is simply enchanted with the metal architecture and the body communicating with it in the midst of the historic buildings (from the Opera to the Hofburg to the Albertina): "body in a metal structure" is a fascinating performance.
Towering into the sky, the sculpture, which Nik Hummer gets to ring (sigh, moan, rattle and sing), has a quite different effect than at the preview, which took place indoors.
The dancer, initially all in black, hangs upside down, caught in the bars, then climbs high up to the top. Tiny and fragile in the midst of the hard material. Still she fights with the occasionally swinging, evasive parts, touches cautiously with her feet and hands, becomes ever more certain. While the moon sails upwards surrounded in haze, the gymnast puts on a skirt, becomes a woman ready to communicate with the material, to build trust, to conquer it.
Smoothly, the body glides through the labyrinth of the artistic architecture, offers itself to the long-since no longer hostile material with open legs, in order, when the last of daylight has faded, to remove her clothes, to hang upside down again on the poles in lace underwear. No longer as the prisoner but now as the freely surrendered. The body is one with the metal structure.