IN THE UNDERLIT BASEMENT Room of the Palais de Tokyo, Italian dancer and choreographer Annamaria Ajmone’s La notte è il mio giorno preferito (Night is My Favored Day) commenced with the seem of a deep animal howl, the reverberations of which lent dimension to the darkness and outlined the space of the overall performance, delineating its edges and corners. In the infrared glow of the overhanging eco-friendly lights, a nominal illustration of a forest emerged a couple sparse lianas designed the habitat for the efficiency. Abruptly, a stealthy, human-animal hybrid figure appeared and started an evasive dance, sliding in and out of view guiding columns, into dim corners, and maintaining low to the floor. Inevitably, this determine uncovered by itself struggling with the audience with a cruel, almost combative gaze. As she stood there, she coated her tongue with a clay-like substance. Unnaturally lengthy and sharp, it appeared to lunge out of her mouth, appear around cautiously prior to being laboriously swallowed—performing what Ajmone later on explained as a “tongue dance.” During this dance, it appeared to possess its host’s entire body from in just, slithering like tentacles inside of her arms, her legs, out of her ass, only to reemerge forcefully out of her mouth all over again times later on. When the 40-minute performance was accomplished, the audience emerged, dazed, in the now-lit concrete bowels of the museum surrounded by a couple of hanging vines made of discovered plastics, synthetic vegetation, and wigs. In the silence ahead of the viewers dared to clap, the amplified audio of Annamaria’s accelerated breath is all we could hear—and for a while, we listened.
To build this work, Ajmone and her collaborator Stella Succi tracked wolves. They embarked on two residencies—one in Val d’Illiez in Switzerland, the other in the Jura Mountains—to chart the path of the significant canines, discovering to figure out their strides, feces, and kills. Through the aid of video clips designed with a evening-eyesight digital camera (the radioactive eco-friendly gel light-weight of which is quoted in the first part of the effectiveness), Ajmone and Succi researched throughout the working day what they could only hear in the pitch darkness of night, and the sound of the forest—deconstructed into fragments, merged with instruments—became the main sonic aspect in a observe published for the effectiveness by composer Flora Yin-Wong. La notte è il mio giorno preferito is also rooted in an essay by French thinker and naturalist Baptiste Morizot, who, influenced by Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s exploration, writes on the approaches in which animal monitoring can be used to a philosophical system. Monitoring, Ajmone informed me, is like a dance: “You are monitoring an animal, but they are also tracking you. The viewers is monitoring me on stage, but I am also monitoring them.” The energy composition of this type of exchange is egalitarian: Hers is a dance that seeks no climax, a dance in which no a person dominates—or possibly in which absolutely everyone is dominated similarly. It’s a sensual, philosophical meandering.
The frontality of Ajmone’s gaze is a signature element of her design. In earlier pieces of hers—these types of as De La, 2016, or her contribution to Virgilio Sieni’s L’Atlante del Gesto, 2015,—she is confrontational, conscious, responsive. When in gallery areas exactly where the audience can flow into freely, she moves toward them, powerful them to observe her. She carves an viewers like a sculpture, out of the blue capturing an person with her hyper-focused awareness and then, just as promptly, releasing them back again into the anonymity of the crowd by turning away. Her movements are visceral and spontaneous, present and receptive. Her dances are not accurately improvisations—she offers herself “tasks” to accomplish—but her gestures are in no way fastened or sequenced. She leaves herself a extensive berth to respond intuitively to the audience, the context, and the architecture of a efficiency in La notte, her responsibilities are the original “call” in the sound of the forest, the act of tracking in the darkness, and the tongue dance. And, although I have recommended that her motion is animal in its rawness, there is one thing quite unnatural about it as perfectly: It is inefficient, monstrous, as however from a mirror-earth in which bodies are tangled and their functions unclear. As she dances, she contorts herself substantially, disfiguring and mangling her sort, her joints seeming to pop out of their sockets. And still, her eye contact—locked and intense—is unnerving and own. When we chat about embodiment, she tells me, “I am Annamaria I am a human,” conveying that she is not making an attempt to be an animal, but somewhat that she underscores her evident failure to be an animal. She considers certain times of La notte a variety of disguise all through which she (often proverbially) “wears” functions of the wolves (e.g., a wig to deliver a furry layer or movement). Her motivation is not to be the “Other” (capitalization hers), but somewhat to discover from the Other’s vantage place, their viewpoint.
The new piece feels diverse than her previous ones, arguably for the reason that it was designed for the theater of the Triennale in Milan (where it was performed two times prior to the night time I noticed it at the Palais de Tokyo), and for that reason possesses Ajmone’s ambivalent marriage to the two-dimensionality of the phase, with its restrictive access to her community. To counterbalance this, she recruited artist Natália Trejbalová and lights director Giulia Pastore to design and style and gentle a “techno-natural” landscape, a set that could appropriately host and contextualize their collective meditations on nature and tradition. La notte was in switch recontextualized by the Palais de Tokyo, which presented her concurrently with the exhibition “Réclamer la Terre (Reclaim the Earth),” showcasing the work of fourteen artists shepherded by two scientific consultants. Billed as a “wake-up simply call as substantially as a rallying cry,” the exhibition asserts that the show’s artists and their strategies to materials are catalysts for a heightened ecological consciousness and a decolonized tactic to the globe, a single that prioritizes indigenous and ancestral understanding. Although not provided in the exhibition, the efficiency was genuinely connected to its ethos. Intuition is at the crux of the ecofeminist argument, and it is the guiding basic principle of Ajmone’s solution. Her functionality felt like a putting and truly guttural response from in just to the ambitious and difficult guarantee of the exhibition, whose objects in the long run stay artfully placed in the gallery area. Her functionality stood on its individual as an embodiment of exploration, and a penetrating sensorial practical experience for artist and viewer alike.
Annamaria Ajmone carried out La notte è il mio giorno preferito (Night is My Favorite Working day) at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris, on June 9. She will current the piece once more on July 8, 9 and 10 as element of the Santarcangelo Pageant in Italy.
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