1. Atlanta Eke stands and welcomes the audience as we enter the theatre. She doesn’t demand our attention but she is ready to connect if we acknowledge the offer, and she smiles. She is our host.
2. Two vertical film screens are placed on stage, both with projections of a live-feed video of the audience. The audience is presented with themselves. We are implicated in the setting. We have an essential role to play as watchers. We have all become a 2-dimensional image.
3. Atlanta unassumingly joins the crowd filing up the seating bank stairs. She disappears.
4. Daniel Jenatsch is playing drums and synth loudly in the corner of the stage. He plays over the audience as they continue their pre-show conversations. The crowd’s energy is lively and excited. The music builds to a peak to herald in the beginning of the performance. People turn to see what is happening behind them.
5. A figure emerges from the top of the seating bank, a couch-cushion block monster. The fabric of the cushions is a faded mauve floral pattern. This is like a child dressing up as a monster. It lumbers down the stairs, taking care not to trip. It is an inelegant and plodding creature. It looks cuddly. People laugh.
6. The pillowman (man? Is it a he?) stands before us on stage. He slowly falls collapses, slumps, dies(?). The death is gentle and slow because he is made of pillows. He slinks off into the darkness and disappears.
7. A second figure appears, it looks like Atlanta. She is wearing silver lycra tights and a long-sleeve tank top, which reflects the light with a rainbow shimmer. She is wearing sunglasses, (actually they’re 3D movie glasses I think – cinema cinema cinema.) She stands next to a silver road case. She poses, standing, looking. She is very cool. The glasses help with the coolness.
8. The figure lies on her back on the road case, her legs become elevated. She mimes a slow horizontal walk, walking up a wall. References 2001: A Space Odyssey. The body in extra-terrestrial space, floating. She rolls to her side and extends all her limbs, reaching out. Her mouth opens, letting out a silent scream. She is lost in space. She is flying away. Outer Space. I let go of the idea of ‘authentic’. Then she finishes the action, stands and wheels the road case out of the way as it won’t be needed again. She puts on a pair of knee-high black lace-up heels.
9. Atlanta turns the camera around, away from the audience and towards one of the vertical screens, creating the effect of a tunnel of repeated images, like two mirrors facing each other. She stands in front of the camera and her image multiplies down an infinite video corridor.
10. Atlanta’s image is recorded and played back in a loop on the screen. Her live-self turns and observes her moments-ago self, frozen in time. She rearranges her pose and extends her live hand so that her live-on-camera self appears to be cradling her past-filmed self. This is captured and replayed. She repeats this several times.
11. Each new captured pose moves the previous recording further down the tunnel of repetitions. Moments are catalogued in real time. Atlanta is stroking Atlanta is stroking Atlanta is stroking… The catalogue is wiped clean and we start again.
12. New figure, a face painted white. The face is angled upwards, filmed in close-up, the jaw very pronounced, masculine. The face, quivering with tension, demands our attention as Atlanta’s live body becomes more and more secondary. The face is devastating, its micro movements amplified by the close-up. Frankenstein. Blue liquid spills from the mouth, dribbling down the forward-thrust chin and down the figures body. The cinematic face trembles. Horror.
13. The face is captured and played back. Atlanta turns to look at the figure she created. It plays on a loop, the blue drool spilling over and over. Atlanta steps in front of the giant face, she assumes the next position. Lying on her back, cowering under the giant face, hands held up in desperation. The monsters victim, female. Pose. Image captured.
14. New figure and new figure. Pose layered over pose, image captured and captured again. Each capture pushes the previous image further down the infinity tunnel. A time machine. A rabbit hole.
15. Atlanta walks backwards in a circle. RGB lighting. She turns red. Captured image. Green. Capturing image. Blue. Capture image. We are presented an image of three shadowy figures in red, green and blue. I think, ‘that image is beautiful. I wish I could buy it, would look great as a painting’. I catch myself wanting to own the beauty of this performative situation.
16. A new figure, she puts on a pink satin off-the-shoulder dress. For some reason this seems to be the strangest figure so far. The pink is so garishly pink, the style so confused.
17. She stands and faces the audience. Her arms move ethereally outwards, she performs a choreography, liturgical, reverent. The music matches her earnestness. I feel the importance of this image because I recognise these emotive cues. But I’m not exactly sure what this image is of, or why Atlanta is showing me this. I think ‘Do I actually understand this work?’ I am drawn in a little deeper.
18. The screens turn off, Atlanta is left without the support of the image capturing. She stops and looks out to the operating desk above the audience. ‘Jacob? Is there something wrong?’ she asks. ‘Yes, yes we have a problem’ Jacob’s response. It is the only language spoken in the entire show. Atlanta gets back to work on the next set-up, undisturbed by the aforementioned problem.
19. A cymbal is suspended in the space on string. On camera it looks like a flying saucer. B-grade Ed Wood science fiction. Atlanta is fascinated with monsters and cinema. Monster Body and zombification of the artist. Fountain and vampires. Body of Work and aliens. Fear and the ‘other’.
20. New figure, an alien helmet, but really a rubbish bin lid. Trash.
21. (something happens here that I cannot remember)
22. A blue yoga ball bounces into the space. Atlanta takes it and holds it close to the camera’s lens. It appears huge on the screen. A planet. I am prepared for the instant recognition of alien imagery. Blue. The infinite corridor multiplies the blue planet an infinite number of times.
23. Atlanta drops the ball, which bounces. A slight delay in the live feed creates a chain reaction of balls bouncing, which creates a waveform; each successive sphere rising and falling just after the one that precedes it. Time is a fluid wave.
24. A new screen figure, the camera divides and mirrors the filmed figure, creating a Rorschach blot symmetrical creature. Atlanta’s legs are doubled on the screen, a blob monster of four silver limbs and an orb-like central pelvis. The limbs slink over each other on the floor. The Orb-like pelvis sometimes moves and an orifice appears to open. This is so ridiculous. I love it. The sounds squirting, farting, rumbling – of the body. This creature is a sex alien.
25. New mirrored creation, Atlanta’s legs are doubled again, this time two legs walk on the floor which extend into two reverse legs walking on the ceiling. As the live Atlanta moves down towards the floor, the screen creature peels away from itself, the legs moving away from each other to reveal two torsos, which reveals four arms, two necks.
26. The mirror effect flips, showing us two heads mirrored, like the face of Janus, or a woman emerging from a still body of water, her reflection perfect on the surface. She emerges. She leaves.
27. The screen images start replaying in reverse order, filing back through everything we’ve seen in the work so far. Mirror creature, Blue planet, Flying saucer cymbals, Pink dress, Big face. We move back through the catalogue of images created and wiped clean; back out of the infinite time corridor; back to the moment where we first stepped into the theatre. Effectively erasing the evidence of the performance, leaving it only in our memories and returning us to reality.
28. The performance is over.
29. Atlanta steps forward to receive her applause. The crowd (myself included) is ecstatic, shouting, crying out, wooping. There is fervour around Body of Work and around Atlanta herself.
30. Conversations continue for days afterwards. The discourse is mostly focused on how Atlanta and her work are nothing short of mind-blowing. The image of Atlanta continues to be created and multiplied post-performance. The audience cultivates and renders her persona as an artist. She becomes an image.
Body of Work, Atlanta Eke
08/04/2015 Dance Massive Writers Workshop
Body of Work, Atlanta Eke As part of Dance Massive 2015 Dance House
This text has been produced as an outcome of the ‘To Write: Dance Massive Writing Workshop’ that was held on 1 March. As part of this workshop participants discussed approaches to writing about dance, notions of voice and audience, issues of value and function, and strategies of engagement and reflection. Throughout the Festival texts made in response to works in the Dance Massive program by the workshop participants will be published online at the Dance Massive website.