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Marten Spangberg - Slow Fall

Category: Performance, Portrait 30. April 2008

The job description for Marten Spangberg encompasses many terms. He got his start as a dance critic, writes on theory, is active as a performer, dance dramaturge, a curator, and a choreographer, and is considered a stage producer in quite a positive sense. Spangberg has been collaborating with the Swedish architect, Lindstrand Tor, since 2004 under the name International Festival.

Their collaborative work explores perceptions of concepts related to body and space, and has gained international attention. At the present and in the last year, they have been invited to the European Arts Center in Cologne, the PERFORMA 07 in New York, and the Steirischen Herbst 07. For the festival in Graz, they developed “The Theater”, a multi-faceted enterprise which simultaneously describes a venue for stories, characters, and illusions, the performances that take place there, and the actual spatially-adaptable theater that was constructed from freight containers.

Aside from his collaboration with Lindstrand Tor, Marten Spangberg also works as a solo artist. He experiments in performances with himself and with others. The tools of his work are the body in relation to the world and the way the body behaves in space. He is concerned with the different behavior patterns we embody: our self, our reality, our sociability, our wants…

We interviewed Spangberg in the context of the event series, “NICHTS ist aufregend. NICHTS ist sexy. NICHTS ist nicht peinlich.” (“NOTHING is exciting. NOTHING is sexy. NOTHING is not awkward.”), being held at MOMUK and Tanzquartier Wien. His performance in the series, “Slow Fall”, is a sketch, an artistic draft of a work which will premiere in November 2008. In the context of this performance, Spangberg explores the different behavior patterns which we embody and moderate, and the possibility thereby of creating a new understanding for ourselves.

Spangberg takes on the statement “NOTHING is not awkward” and tries to find a term for awkwardness which corresponds to the artistic emphasis of his work on the relationships of the body to area and the body to the world. By positing awkwardness as a displacement, as a deliberate ill-at-ease, as a levitation, our embodiments of our interactions become free-floating, thereby allowing us to grab hold of how they interact with us. For the choreographic realization of this program, Spangberg borrowed from elements of eastern spiritual out-of-body experience techniques, but denies his audience the exhibition of a performance for which they would already have words. By rupturing the typical ways in which we embody physical propriety, Spangberg brings about a displacement through which, during the performance, his nakedness, which has not yet been articulated, is experienced by the audience under the new guise, and in the best sense, as an “ill-at-ease” experience. The audience cannot find the words, for words have in fact become disproportionate, to describe the experience. However, afterwards, somehow a little space is created, to separately determine one’s own proportions, and to use this experience of awkwardness to find one’s own words and to take up one’s own position. (wh/jn)

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