The Solution-Oriented Network Machine

Helmut Ploebst, Der Standard, 07.03.2017


Impressive premières by Saskia Hölbling in the Semper Depot
It’s a trap. Two men and two women become entangled in a a big net made of black threads, which a hidden arachnid has stretched across a wide, uncanny space. The Viennese choreographer Saskia Hölbling had this installation set up by Gudrun Lenk-Wane for her new work, Corpus suspendus, in one of the halls of the former Semper Depot. The première was organised by Impulstanz, the background web of sounds comes from Wolfgang Mitterer.

The hidden female spider is the key to this work, which alludes to the atrophy of the great networking enthusiasm of the last two and a half decades: as Hölbling writes on this work, it alludes to the “many egos between consumer oases and rubbish dumps” and to “the many in the quicksand between success and superfluity”. So it is to be assumed that the absent arachnid here stands for the what is secretly pulling the strings in our globalised network business and profiting from it.

In the form of the four “Corps suspendus”, the superfluous ones float in the nets of the profiteers.
The French word suspendre means to hang up or to hang, but also to interrupt, postpone or freeze. The figures in Hölbling’s web are clearly just attached, without yet being aware that they have been dumped. They hang in their dangerous habitat, sometimes forcing themselves together, but quickly losing one another again, landing on the floor without really noticing it.

They cannot leave the net, because it is a fetish that numbs its inhabitants. Hölbling calls it “a little world machine”. Those suspended in it wear the black of this machine, which never allows them to gain their balance, that permits neither stopping nor calm and which suggests there is no outside.


In the World Machine

Karl-Heinz Roschitz, Kronen Zeitung, 05.03.2017


Ropes are stretched between the cast-iron pillars in the ground-floor room of the historic Semper Depot in Lehárgasse. A thicket in which four performers practise a kind of survival training. They have fallen into Saskia Hölbling’s “world machine” and are showing the work Corps suspendus as an Impulstanz special.

The choreographer repeatedly gets spectators here to feel something indefinably threatening. Danger! This is how she quotes in explaining the field of tension “between consumer streets and rubbish dumps”, moving in the “quicksand between success and superfluity”, the many “Trumps and faceless ones” in an ideologically brutalised world.

We are “at the mercy of the world machine”, through whose network the black-clothed dancers cautiously crawl and manoeuvre so as not to crash to earth. For this survival game Gudrun Lenk-Wane designed a network of ropes that are anchored to the pillar frames.

With amazing ease and elegance, the four performers twist and tumble, crawl, clamber and lift themselves through the network. And literary references can be recognised in the process – involuntarily one recalls the Norns in Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, who pull on the threads of fate and spin networks. However, Hölbling does not conjure up the Wagnerian catastrophe, the tearing of the rope that heralds the end of the world.

Corpus suspendus – like the Latin title – shows the dependence on the world machine in which the four – Anna Hein, Leonie Wahl, Jan Jakubal, Ardan Hussain – move in search of meaning and confirmation of their existence.

Wolfgang Mitterer, the prominent organist, electronic musician and composer, wrote the backing music: a rollercoaster of refined sounds, colours, instrumental tones and noises, an artistically designed, in itself reference-rich sound network for Hölbling’s staging and choreography.
Much applause.


Hanging around in the ropes of life

Peter Jarolin, Kurier, 05.03.2017


No, we are not in the circus, and nor is this a purely acrobatic show. Even though the choreographer Saskia Hölbling (DANS.KIAS) demands all sorts of body control in her new work Corpus suspendus. Because it is not so easy to twist tumble through the rope landscape of life without facing the massive risk of falling.

Gudrun Lenk-Wane has built a little “world machine” in the atelier house of the Academy of Fine Art (better known as the Semper Depot). A web of ropes that in this Impulstanz production serves as a metaphor for the entanglements and challenges of life.

This rope network has to be climbed and penetrated. But to way to the top does not function on one’s own. Groups have to be formed, a collective develops. Only through combined forces is the rope landscape to be conquered, yet, repeatedly, rope teams or just couples establish themselves.

In brief instants of closeness Hölbling shows moments of mutual dependency, physical surrender. But the potential and perhaps actual security is repeatedly disrupted by new solo attempts in the rope labyrinth. But who, finally, stands right at the top? And who completely crashes to earth? Is there such a thing as solidarity?

These are questions that Hölbling poses in Corps suspendus, which her four excellent, black-clothed performers (Anna Hein, Ardan Hussain, Jan Jakubal, Leonie Wahl) attempt to answer, very acrobatically and constantly in new constellations. Wolfgang Mitterer has written a composition, almost a sound track for it, which suggestively emphasises individual actions but can also become the initial trigger for a new movement pattern. The lighting direction by Gerald Pappenberger in addition creates beautiful atmospheric images, provides for delightful shadow-play and projections on the walls.

This may sound slightly strenuous, and sometimes it is too. Close observation is called for. But anyone who engages themselves with Hölbling’s clear, structural language of form will be richly rewarded and can hang out really well between the ropes.