THIS IS NOT A REVIEW: What’s Left Over
Stacy Grossfield presented a new work called “Hot Dark Matter” a couple of months ago at JACK. Writing about a piece long after viewing has allowed an interesting amount of distance and reflection (I also got a video from her to watch, which I referenced but mostly kept with my memory of things which are more experiential than itemized).
I went to the last show of the series, a Sunday matinee, presented at JACK in Brooklyn, with foil walls and black marley floor, a gauzy backdrop and the audience huddled together on one side of the space. The piece opens on Tuva Hildebrand with her leg in a surgical boot. The movement is stuck; it takes a long time but that seems to be important to it. It creates a kind of lulling muddy dream world. Doing impossible tasks, those tasks creating immobility, somehow similar to the task of concentrating on two things at once, colliding creating absence of movement or absence of momentum. All the while, the sound creating mood, building in some vaguely ominous way, a soundtrack for a story which both is and is separate from the story we are watching.
I feel a sense of possibility from the potential entrances alone (5 different entrance locations from my memory). Throughout the work, there’s a repeated zoom out/zoom in: from satellite view to microscopic view to human view, sharply contrasting elemental imagery (references to dark matter, atoms, neurons, deep space), zooming in to the human or the mundane, and then a dizzying zoom out and back again. Scents waft in breezily, performers lope in from behind us, around us, under the risers, behind curtains and (maybe?) from outside. The extremes of light (from very bright to very dark to black-darker-than-black —deep night—) with two performers (Grossfield and Rebecca Warner) dressed in black against a black silky scrim and black floor for my undiagnosed night blindness turns into a kind of hallucinatory space: this ooze forming made of two bodies curling together who are not bodies who are atomic who are energies but then who are bodies again who are splayed oozing into the dark spaces of the room and then eventually we see clearly the forms that make the thing, this loosening and tightening of form and edges. This amorphousness shifts and the audience is covered in a curtain; once again changing perspective, shifting foreground to the immediate space around our bodies, my body, on the floor. The next time we see Rebecca she is entering in an iridescent silver bodysuit to a steps-concentrated barrage of lines and shapes, effort!, a space woman spaceman spiff building a space for herself, these actions sitting against a rotating orb of three performers (nude except for a connecting sculpture by Jeremy Lydic) who collide into the space at various moments, who swirl and shimmer and leave, then a group of businessmen huddling together, bursting out of backstage or around the bend to interrupt the current scene. Then, finally, the back curtain is moved endlessly forward and surrounds us, becoming a video screen where we are taken inside a car wash, through it and to the other side. Back to earth. Definitely earth.
Grossfield’s logic feels Lynchian, or somehow taken from the sensibility of a Murakami short story, this magical realism blend between the possible and the impossible, or perhaps the absorption of the impossible into the possible, the work a manifestation of collision, both of idea and subject. Grossfield paints crisply portraited images that somehow exist outside the ephemeral nature of performance for me – like some alchemy collides and the imagery stays put, hanging in that deep-black absence of light, in that not-quite-asleep space where all these elements can exist at once – the businessman and the cosmos and impossible movement and neurons colliding. The magic, her magic, is that they actually do. What the audience sees is at the forefront, reading like a silent play, and while the imagery vacillates between abstract and concrete, we are allowed to hang there too, in the in-between space of those places, and take our time with it.
Performed at JACK, Brooklyn March 9-13th, 2016
Choreography by Stacy Grossfield
Performed by Tuva Hildebrand, Dana Florin-Weiss, Monica Hunken, Kadence Neill, Rebecca Warner, Stacy Grossfield, Joomin Hwang, Kevin Luparello, Daren Liff, and Stephen Zuccaro
Lighting by Joe Levasseur
Music by Olivier Messiaen
Sculptures by Jeremy Lydic
Video by Gil Sperling
Set and costumes designed by Stacy Grossfield
Screens by Curtis Eller and set construction by Kevin Lovelady and Walter Dundervill