Unisono means "to perform at the same time" – something that we can relate to photography, where coordination with the right timing and tools plays a crucial role. This is the title of the new dance production by makemake produktionen, a Viennese artist collective that produces theater performances since 2011. The new show will debut on the 3rd of March at WUK in Vienna at 19.30 pm.
We had the pleasure of meeting the performers, and shooting their rehearsal with a Diana Multi Pinhole Operator and connecting to the idea of coordination and synchrony. Using the pinhole technique we wanted to play with the idea of distortion. Shooting photos with a regular camera could accurately capture the uniform synchronicity of the dance, but by manipulating time with a longer exposure we can see that there is diversity in repetition.
The show pushes the boundaries and concepts of repetition, cadence, and synchrony, to make us reflect on how accustomed we have become to routine actions. We asked a few questions to the company's dramatic advisor Anita Buchart, stage and costume designer Nanna Neudeck, and choreographer Martina Rösler about their experience.
In your manifesto, you outline how your work as a company takes inspiration from other forms of art such as literature, music and choreography and draws much inspiration from the visual arts. What relationship or similarities do you see between analogue photography and dance performance?
Nanna Neudeck: Looking into the longstanding relationship between analogue photography/film and dance, the American dancer Loie Fuller and her piece Serpentine Dance immediately comes to my mind. In multiple shows Fuller experimented with a long skirt, choreographing its movements and playing with the ways it could reflect light. I find it particularily intriguing that visual elements such as costume and lighting became so important to the development of Fullers dance at a time where colour film and photography were still a rather young invention, but developing at an enormous pace. Fuller became the embodiment of the Art Noveau movement and was often identified with symbolism, as her work was seen as the perfect reciprocity between idea and symbol. At the same time this dance is also a perfect example of how live performance and the documentation of it complement and enrich one another.
The performance name is Unisono, a word used in dance as well as in music. It describes the synchronicity of movements. What is, to you, an adequate dose of unisono in life?
Anita Buchart: We think it is not about the quantity but more about the context in which you decide to do or be in an unisono state of mind or body. And in that it is a constant progress of asking yourself if you want to be part of a particular group. Unfortunately it cannot be answered for good, but this can be a good thing, it can always bring new opportunities.
Martina Rösler: We experience the synchronicity of movement in a more general way every day, while for example getting on a bus, crossing a street, taking a yoga class, but also when marching together with people at a demonstration. One can read the notion unisono as a way of believing in the same thing – connecting with each other is always a political question.
The viewer is invited to reflect on the aspects of life that we have become accustomed to at an automatic level. Where or how do you think people can find a different pace?
Martina Rösler: It is probably about raising awareness about your routines, recognizing standardized processes, reflecting on them, changing them, breaking them up. Sharing the space of possibility that we enjoy in creating performance/theater work with the audience is one of the most exciting moments at the end of a working process.
You have collaborated with different groups while building the bones of Unisono such as schools, writers, and musicians. which of them has had the greatest impact on you during the production?
Anita Buchart: They all had an impact on us in different ways. The fact that we always invite different experts to join our team temporarily is a core thing in our style of working in our collective MakeMake productions. This makes the creative work easier and harder at the same time. It is easier to have a lot of ideas on the table and harder to compress them to the main statement.
Martina Rösler: This time the starting point was definitely movement. Text and music got started out of the movements. The young people we invited to collaborate with us in a research workshop shared their questions and interests related to our topic. So all of the people collaborating shared thinking processes that formed the piece in a particular way.
The mathematical cadence of the dance brings us to a trance-like state and hypnotizes us. Can the performance work as a disenchantment and awaken the spectator to a new awareness?
Anita Buchart: We think it can. Especially since we do not give the answers, but ask questions and the audience can find possible answers themselves. Watching a performance piece gives you time to think without the necessity of being productive, something that in everyday life can get lost.
Martina Rösler: The choreographic scores and structures play with repetition, duration, different rhythms, formal movements and more undefined chaotic body language. The alternation between concrete and more abstract images gives the spectator room for interpretation. There are opportunities to dive in and enjoy the simultaneity or merging of bodies. Here, however, unexpected changes of scenes intervene again and again. The very different parts of the piece reflect aspects of “unisono” and make the ambivalence visible.