NEU NOW LIVE 2012 kicked off Thursday in the Galeria do Palacio with festival artists giving a short introduction to their works, varying from photography and design to fashion and artistic installation. Click below to experience the works in their new home.
Untitled was performed in the gallery, bringing the audience closer together as different people were asked to use red tape and tape the performers to the gallery window. From the respectful silence and distance of an uninvolved audience patiently waiting for the dancers to start their piece, the atmosphere soon transformed into an informal and playful one. Nevertheless, a cruel tinge pervaded throughout, as the performers immersed themselves in this game of subjection and domination. Their cheeks pressing against the hard glass, breath fogging up the window, an arm or a leg slightly trembling in pain were small hints at the darker side of this game.
Kommandopiece was also developed around the ideas of authority and control, and involved the participation of the audience. Performed in Mosteiro Sao Bento da Vitoria, in an awe-inspiring, symmetrical space – the inner courtyard of a former monastry – the performance’s strength was in making the viewer alternate between feeling uneasiness and comic pleasure.
The actors, dressed as security forces and mastering the body language of a state control mechanism, often reassured that our space was being restricted or controlled by them for the sake of our own safety, but as viewers we could not help but doubt their intentions. Sexuality and seduction often surfaced in the cracks of their rigid, military-like structure. There are comic twists to many tense situations. One person is once taken away in a cloud of threat and suspicion, extracted from the midst of the viewers, sustaining the uncomfortable thought that it could have been anyone of us. Although he is then forced with his hands against the wall, as if a body search were insuing, what happens to him in the end is a back massage. Media also has an important role in the performance, video imagery of hostage situations immediately conjuring a mental state of alert. The scene however turns into the backstage of a filmic melodrama, bringing comic relief to a queasy audience.