[archive] Duet, 2008
Two performers reproduce the movements of Hassam Abdo, a young Palestinian boy stopped at an Israeli army checkpoint with a bomb attached to his body in 2004. He cooperated with soldiers to disarm the bomb / his body in front of news cameras. In this choreographic echo a performer enacts and repeats the gestures of the boy in this traumatic moment as he follows orders to disarm himself, remove his clothing and be arrested. A second performer embodies all that intervenes from behind the camera; the soldiers, the viewer, the camera itself. Performers: Robert Schweitzer, Monique Romeiko ((performance © 2007, video © 2008)

"...what is different here is that the two performers engage in a process of improvisational action and reaction. The “soldier” gently takes the arm of the “boy” and places it across his chest, for example, an action to which the boy replies by bringing his other arm down and around to meet it. Although the choreographic framework is that of Abdo's gestures, this collaboration distributes the responsibility; to ask which action was first is futile. What becomes clear in this dance duet is the fact that identities are always mutually produced in context, mutually dependent and mutually defining. By insisting on the materiality of the two bodies, Forster emphasizes that Abdo's “dance” is a site of intersubjective identification and difference. The media likes to present identities as though they were essential, as though people have specific attributes for no specific reason; that “they” just “are” like that. But in reality the formation of identity is a reciprocal process of co-production. Forster's use of duet also heightens the sense of intimacy between captor and captive: the shouted voice is replaced by a silent touch. In the original puppet show the camera is at the command of the Israeli army and follows the direction of the soldier's orders.... the distance over which the soldier's voice reached is collapsed and “he” is in the same space as the “boy.” As such the eye is drawn into the action, as well, no longer bound to the point of view of an oculus behind security barriers. Viewers can now follow the touch rather than the camera, contradicting the media spectacle and allowing for a drastic redefinition of the event." (review by Anja Bock - Prefix Photo)

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