How to make the horizon sensitive?
This piece is set on a cruising beach (a practice of the homosexual community combining flirting and sex in the public space, a practice where sociability is increased by desire); its dramaturgy braids together the abstract lines of the horizon and an erotic imagination; his bodies spread out, rub each other, cross each other, escape from the temptation of the athleticism; in the space, the hands and the arms trace the lines of horizon; on the skin, they figure the fleeting trace of the contacts and those more persistent of the touch; his figures navigate between the world of the dead and the world of the living, of Eros and Thanatos, of the human and the cyborg. Their rhythm combines the heaviness of mythical stories, the drama of Eurydice, Penelope and Ariadne and the suspense of the tactile encounter; their sound universe borrows from the tides and the “secret winds” (Edouard Glissant); its decor and costumes form a veiled case printed with virtual landscapes, their prisms blur, prevent identification; its remedy would allow to learn how to die; its policy is inscribed in the time of braiding of the images, at the same time in their excess and in their patient blooming, in their potential of birth.
The absent person who walks does not exhaust any territory, he only takes root in the sacredness of the air and the evanescence, in the pure refusal that changes nothing in the world. We follow him not in reality, always wanting to change something. But we know in the end that his walk, which is not nomadism, is not rambling either. It traces repeated figures on the earth of here, whose drawing we would surprise if we had means to locate them. This walker is an echo-world which is consumed in itself, which figures the chaos without realizing it. – Édouard Glissant, Poetics of the Relation (1990), p.224-5
Skin-beaches: spaces-extensions of dermis and sand on which are exposed salted waters – tears, perspiration, oceans. If the choreographer and dancer Benjamin Karim Bertrand is in love with these territories, it is in their potential of escape that he finds sense. As surfaces, their horizons escape the graspable in spite of the conquering hands that can be affixed to them without consent. In any case, there is the project in movement of the sub-communities of which Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, critical theorists stemming from the Black studies, speak to us. The erased march of the absent described by the poet Édouard Glissant or the wandering cruises summoned by José Esteban Muñoz can remind us of these elusive trajectories.
I propose that it is in the historical shadow of this march and these cruises that the drifting dances of The End of the Forests emerge. To extend oneself is first to hear these stories of bodies and spaces, Bertrand’s irrigated thought submits to us. To drift, it is to lose “the Other” to find the others.
Thus, to the title of apparently peremptory and eschatological of the piece of Bertrand it is necessary to perceive the muñozian step of disidentification. The end is the promise of the refusal raised by Glissant; it is the idea to undo a bruised and burning world, rather than to repair an essentialized community. It is to prefer the anarchic glitch of unpaid debt to the collection of empathy: wounds are made new with time, it is the chaos of scars that is the issue here. The caress makes its way above all on the tear.
For Bertrand, the burning skin-beaches become places of relations-contacts and queer, decolonial experimentations, by the dances. The movements imagined by Bertrand and his collaborators thus question the traces – their origins, subversions, and beyond: what they tell us about the possibilities of a future in common.
La Fin des Forêts then offers us the tools to spot the drawing of the steps in the sand.
All images ©Martin Argyroglo
La Fin des Forêts
31st March – 1st April 2022
Première, Festival À Corps, TAP-Théâtre auditorium de Poitiers
Choreography and concept | Benjamin Karim Bertrand
Dance and interpretation | Benjamin Karim Bertrand, Sherwood Chen, Nitsan Margaliot
Movement assistant | Léonore Zurflüh
Sound | PYUR (Sophie Schnell)
Light | Abigaïl Fowler
Digital | Mario Mu
Costumes | Cédrick Debeuf
Scenography | Bigtimestudio – Marion Flament & Jimme Cloo
General direction | Hélène Coudrain
Artistic administration and coordination | Soline de Warren Conseil au développement | Marion Gauvent Partenaires