Ghost in Real Time(s)
The festival directors, Silvia Fanti and Daniele Gasparinetti, write at the beginning of the very well-designed format of the catalog: “It is a celebration, also, as a manifestation of the pest: we put in place a set of hospitality, we will be guests, as a condition: in spaces where we will not find sovereigns but, rather, only some samples of a psycho-somatic pioneering at the entrance of polycentric gateways.” The title of their text is ETERI, this word could refer to organic compounds [CnH(2n + 2)O] which, at ambient temperature and pressure, tend to be more volatile. They are generally not very reactive and this makes them useful as solvents for many reactions. Following the solvent capacity of its content, the festival guided the spectator into a “telluric edition, restless, that ‘passes like a fluid through the flesh. A celestial infection’?”** The adjective derived by the noun ‘eteri’ is ETHEREAL, namely something that concerns the sky or anything with a similar structure: immaculate, diaphanous. My access to the whole dimension of the event started in fact meeting an installation that immediately fragmented and affected the consistency of my present experience. I found myself going up the stairs from the backyard of an old oenological shop to see the preview part of the London-based director Simon Vincenzi’s triple work, commissioned by Live Arts Week, and titled FROM THE DEAD AIR ORGY: THE SONG OF SILENUS. Simon Vincenzi, the performer Kath Duggan, and the sound designer Will Saunders were working in the same space/time crisscrossed by the audience. The installation was streamed online, and a repeated performance closed each night. While something was happening in real time, and something was happening elsewhere, we were witnessing something that would happen in the next future.
After this first experience, I reached a different venue. It was a wide space called ‘Salone degli Incamminati,’ situated in the basement of the ‘Pinacoteca di Bologna,’ where I saw GHOST, the new creation of the performance group BAROKTHEGREAT, led by the dancer Sonia Brunelli and the musician Leila Gharib. The two performers, based in Verona, worked together with Simon Vincenzi to develop this project which circles their 10 years of productions and intense dance and music research. The meeting between the two artists and Simon Vincenzi stared 11 years ago at Festival d’Avignon 2008, when Italian director Romeo Castelluci called the dancer Sonia Brunelli to collaborate with the London-based director in the context of the ‘Sujets à Vif’ project. BAROKTHEGREAT’s research is developed through a technique strongly connected to its never-ending exercise. Since 2012, Sonia has developed a pedagogic program based on a rhythmical and technical training, called PALESTRA ESPRESSIVA, where movements are activated to exercise the synchronization of mind and body at the very moment of their contact, with the intent to emancipate and specify the singularity of each performer’s vocabulary. Leila also hold a music project called SEQUOYAH TIGER, where Sonia interacts in the music live set, dancing a rhythmical composition of gestures.
In the wide room of the Pinacoteca GHOST appeared into the shape of a solo dancer, wearing a light suit, and a hood with a piece of silver fabric to cover her face. A black 3×3 meters squared backdrop stand far beyond Sonia and some bar led, colored in light pink, trembled to illuminate the scene in connection with the drum machine played live by Leila. Sonia articulated the low part of her body taking movements from her deep dive into Chicago footwork, a ‘90 kind of dance, born as an evolution of house music in the West side of U.S. Indeed, to realize this project she studied and wrote a large combination of passes that she keeps as an archive from which she can choose danced samples. The entire performance worked also as a real-time training, every time Sonia stopped, Lelia went faster, and after a while the movements began to reinvent the dance, and the whole figure slightly started to disappear. This artifice is called ghosting, it is a specific ability of Chicago footwork dancers, a sort of shah, a trail activated by the extreme acceleration of the bit and the body, a defi for the eye. GHOST is also the title of the famous DJ Rashad’s top track that “hinges on a sample of a sample – where Rashad sampling, Kanye sampling Diana Ross. “I’m still dreaming,” she sings, an echo of an echo that Rashad grounds with a sample of his own voice: ‘ghost, ghost, ghost, ghost.’ The meaning of ghost dissolves into the word’s texture, into the way it hits your body.” As for the last part of Simon Vincenzi’s work in Bologna, toward the end of each performance, when the music, the lights and the dance fell into a black (w)hole, GHOST’s ethereal sediments appeared in the vocal shape of two different sentences. Leila’s voice sang: “FOLLOW MY FEET, WEAPONS” and the second time: “WE ARE THE IDIOTS.”
BAROKTHEGREAT’s last work acted like a turbulent pattern which dematerialises its very form into a vortex of centripetal forces. Sonia’s figure combined with Leila’s specific use of music and voice remembers the BALLET BLANC dimension where ethereal and fantastic creatures dominate, but the performers specific understanding and use of synchronization in real time composition, reacting with the chemical precipitation enabled by the solvent capability of the event format, diluted the surfaces of the aesthetic experience, and lead the mental experience through a loss of memory. At the same time the multiverse festival dimension guided the audience through an exploration where navigation was made possible by some uncanny glints turned into actual, vibrant and iridescent sediments by its agency. Those glints were able to light up the dimension of the vision overturning the agency of the known and the recognizable, letting the gaze diving through something that is important to have witnessed for the sake of our real time(s).