theatercombinat | 28. november 2020 film streaming präsentiert vom goethe-institut chicago (us) | 28./30./31. oktober 2020 FFT juta, FFT düsseldorf (d) | 9./10./11. oktober 2020 – ein solo von claudia bosse. halle G, tanzquartier wien (a). ORACLE and SACRIFICE 1 oder die evakuierung der gegenwart claudia bosse / theatercombinat.



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The foam, the hair, the organs
Interview Frida Robles with Claudia Bosse in November 2020, Vienna.

FR
When did you started thinking about these pieces on the Oracle and Sacrifice?

CB
I think it happened during the Thyestes production I did when it was clear that I wanted to do a solo piece, and it was clear it should be about around organs. But that I really started to work on it after we came back from Indonesia. Even in Indonesia, when we traveled it was in the back of my head. And for this we visited certain rituals, and certain places such as the statue of the death person. But to work work on it, I would say it started in April, May.

FR
And why were you so interested in doing a solo? Was it a calling?

CB
I think it was after two big works, one was the Thyestes work based on Seneca’s writing, this tragedy was quite a tough work on language and body. It involved a particular discipline towards language and the breath and the physicality of words. It's was hard work on repetition and training and appropriation. Also, within this piece I started to experiment with organs. I saw hearts and I spent hours looking at different organs. I was interested in engaging in this dialogue with this meta concrete where I thought it was not about direct translation to someone but to enter by myself in a research with matter, the knowledge about the functional necessities, the notion of debt, death, the notion of abstraction, how this matters are organized, because if you look a long time on the heart, on its color, on how the fat parts surround it, it becomes really abstract. And I found this shift of attention extremely interesting.

FR
I'm interested in the statue of the death you said?

CB
I only know a little bit but what was really interesting in Indonesian culture. The very first time we went there, I was invited to do a lecture performance and a workshop. I think that on the second day of the workshop I suddenly had really high fever and I couldn't move at all, when I was a bit better I looked at TV series and I couldn't understand anything, there was a soap opera and all the time there were things happening, like flesh or the oven was burning and it was clear something would appear. In the soap opera there were interventions of energies or spirits which I couldn't understand. Then I asked a friend and I learned that that the coexistence of spirits in the daily life it's a really common understanding. Indonesia is really diverse in cultures and regions, and perhaps I refer more precisely to Java. Where emptiness doesn't exist, the void doesn't exist, any emptiness is inhabited by spirits, by ghosts. I got really interested in this. It seemed like these persons even when being super analytic and rational, this coexistence was completely clear. This was the ambivalence. And when we went back to Indonesia, certain events happened, for example, when we looked for the right architecture to develop this performance; people would say that it was a haunted area, they'll say that ghosts were living there. When there was short circuit, the problem was not the electricity it was the spirits which intervene and talk to you. This was one aspect and the other aspect was when, before we started the production, there are shared meals you do together called Slametan. When you do a project you call for all people and they gather together and there's a certain prayer and a certain kind of food, which is like rice in the shape of a volcano with food from all the elements and that's a ritual to make a project successful.

At a time when it was raining heavily and we thought of supporting the structure, when talking then with the architect asking her to do temporal constructions, she also said that we didn't need the construction we just had to arrange a rain shamman. So, there was a certain coexistence of a clear mainly Islamic culture with traces of an animistic culture. For example, in this classical dance tradition I met a dancer and told me that she's only allowed to dance when she's not bleeding and when she has cleaned all the openings of the body. In the moment when she got cancer she wasn't allowed anymore to practice as a dancer. How to understand a different regime dealing with energies, spirits, and a totally different understanding of the body tissue?
By coincidence I learned about Sulawesi, another big island where they have death rituals, after seven or ten years they take the bones out of the soil, wash and clean and redress the dead, and put them back on the soil. So it kind of I don't know how to say, I forgotten the name. And then we researched about this region and the death rituals. And then we found out that the statues of a dead person that as many plays as there's a certain region code to watch, where they have the habit that when someone died in the house, because there needs to be a certain ritual of the certain death ritual, which allows the dead person to travel to paradise. Sometimes it's needed that the dead person stays six months or one year in the house. They have a certain way how to treat the dead, they consider the dead as as an ill person, so they feed the person, and they wash the person. They share the household with them, they have a certain technique of conservation.
Also according to your social standard, a certain number of bulls have to be killed. And the blood of the bulls allow for the dead to travel to paradise. And this meat also creates a certain economy in the in the village or in the surroundings. So, it's a quite complex system.

FR
That's why you came to the topic, but it remains interesting to me why you came to the figure of the Oracle. Why the Oracle in particular?

CB
I think the Oracle happened in the research of Thyestes. In the process of understanding where the crime starts. It seemed that in the description the killing of the kids is not the problem, but feeding them to their own father is the problem. So, having a completely different system of sacrifice or a sacred procedure and where crime starts. In the research around this I stumbled into a religion. The Etruscan religion, they practice the liver Oracle that the practice and it resembles how scientists proceed. It was understood that the future, so the wish of the gods, or the wish of the gods for the futures, was readable in the inside of the body. The future not just as a kind of sudden event and also thinking about our ecological system, that everything already exists, and are we just able to read it?

FR
There's nothing new under the sun….

CB
No, everything is already there, the results of developments are already here, when you're just able to recognize and perhaps it also corresponded a bit with with the concept of Rebecca Solnit of slow violence, that often when we have violent acts, we have the immediacy of the act and the effect, but there are a lot of figures which are slow violence, where the the act and the effect are in very different temporalities. And I think that there was a, there was a label for this elements, I was super interested. And then with the Oracle, I got really interested and thought about its process? What is shift of something profane into something sacred in a way? What is the procedure of this reading? Again it became a lot about art and about the momentum when something profound shifts in a different context. What is the process of transformation? What you read out of it? It's such a particular process of trying to make up meaning, but nothing factual. So it's something in between, between the event or the appearance and the interpreter.

FR
Then I find it interesting that the focus is very much leaning towards the future. Which for me, is interesting, because the Oracle in itself was also the wisdom, not a temporal wisdom that, of course, can always be applied to the future. And I find it interesting that you come up with a connection to sacrifice, in the sense that a sacrifice is always a past. For me, to sacrifice something is kill or to stop something that was happening or that was there. It's an interesting reading of the Oracle as an entity that needs to be fed to say, and to bring future, or to perform what would be a potential future. I am interested on the insistence on the sacrifice or o why why was the binome between the Oracle and Sacrifice?

CB
What I find a really interesting thing is how the voice resonates in the being till the answer can be found in an organ, and particularly the liver. So this kind of this weird way of communication and transformation between life and death. And also to ask what is the channel? The traditional way in this practices, to live in relation with the gods, the atoms could have offerings, that the momentum of offering was a practice to communicate with the elements you're living from always.

FR
In your piece you mostly dealt with hearts or they seemed prominent. I don't know if that's my interpretation…

CB
No, there were also lungs and kidneys and a liver, the lung was quite prominent. There was an air tube and there was a fat matter at the beginning. The choice of organs was also related on the ability to preserve them, and certain organs are extremely difficult to preserve. When the organ has too much blood inside, the heart, for example, or the liver. The liver is really difficult to preserve. You have to exchange the blood with alcohol liquid combination.

FR
And so they were human organs?

CB
No. They were animal organs. They were between sheep, pork and buffalo. The heart I was swinging was a buffalo heart. The heart I had around my neck was a lamb one. We tested the different sizes. And the system we had from air tube to heart lung was a young cow.

FR
But it's also interesting these metaphor of the organs also as social or institutional organs. Were you thinking about that, the metaphor of that?

CB
I wanted to be as concrete as possible with the organs, their functions and their connection to my body. For the next step, when the performance is going towards the woods. It will focus on the organ-less body but also thinking about what kind of organisms are created in nature, what kind of organizations are possible from this coexistence or cohabitation in the areas of woods, between the rotten and the becoming, the being in full energy plant. These transitions are just so interesting in the woods, how all is intertwined and how every organism depends on each other. This circular system that is always in transformation, from life to death and the feeding of new life, this kind of consolation I find interesting.

FR
There's also the question regarding: do plants or animals are conscious of death? What do you think? I think it would change how we see plants if we consider that they have an acknowledgement of their own dead.

CB
It's interesting, I just remember that there was a tree and there was a baby who had been killed, he was not even six months old. In Indonesia there was a certain tree and they put the corpse of the baby into it. They said that the milk of the tree would feed the baby and make the baby reach heaven and that it also would feed the tree. A kind of co-becoming event.

FR
I was thinking about why did you choose to have an all white space?

CB
I think it came out of of the Tanzquartier stage. I thought about the appearance of the elements, the foam, the hair, the organs. And I thought that this abstraction of the concrete material and the whitespace, or the visibility would be a different one as if I put it in a white space than if I put it in a dark space. I decided for white space because I thought the lightness and the reduction of colors, the color range was quite limited I thought the whitish nature of the space to be a necessary condition to re-look and perhaps to re-appropriate mythical and other practices.

FR
I was also curious that at some points you go into some states that are in between ecstatic dance or trance. Also the fact that there were like three people talking through you with these multiple microphones. If feels like creating these spaces of the multiple within you. At least that's how I could read it, like this dialogue with yourself in the microphone. Was there the intention for a trance moment, or it was more of in these becoming Oracle?

CB
When I started I wanted to share a landscape with the spectators. But I always thought I don't direct where the people go. And I have a starting point and I decide in the very moment how I get from the beginning to the next point. I really wanted to do insist on this investigation of the very moment. I wanted to be able to revisit what appeared and the working process that I'm able to get into a certain quality, that this quality can really inform me that it's not about a representation, but more about transformation of matter and myself as matter. And what are the transformative acts and what are perhaps energies which appear or which disappear or which which are collected in certain transformative acts, how then this impact the quality of focus and physicality for certain acts of transformation. This was my interest.

FR
To be in the not knowing….

CB
To be in the not knowing and at the same time knowing your interest but not knowing the exact articulation. So, I will move, I will touch on movements which will happen during the whole piece but I never knew what would come. And I found this really exciting. The given notion of things and also the giving notion on how you interact with bodies and things. It's a certain space of transitory anarchy, which on the other hand is quite disciplined. It's really an interesting and paradoxical place.

FR
You were mentioning the connection with the Oracle and law? And then you bring to the table Claudia Bosse the prosecutor. So how you do think these two notions?

CB
One year and a half ago I found Claudia Bosse. And it was not about that there's someone else with my name but I was interested that there was someone else with my name dealing with violence. Because I was always really interested in violence. What is the necessity, the energy, the interrupted, the traumatic, the possible in connection with acts of violence. I found her and I started to collect data, I collected the cases whenever I found a case where she was the public prosecutor. I didn't know for what, I was interested and then people said ‘when you do a solo, it needs to be something authentic’. But why do I need to be authentic? So, I found it much more interesting to think about talking about someone else with the same name, but dealing with the same interest but from a totally different perspective. The perspective of law, looking to bodies, to victims and looking into violence. So I contacted her and I asked her if she would agree to work with me. It was quite a funny first contact, contacting someone and say ‘hello it's me, I have the same name’. I could not clearly define what it was. I knew where it come from, but I couldn't tell what it is. It was in this pre-language state, I think this is the state of artistic anarchy, when something appears that you don’t know yet how to classify or act upon. Then she came, and I decided that it was much more interesting to bring her in my world, also in the form.

FR
And how do you plan to go with the performance into the woods? Or like, how is that transition/translation?

CB
I think it's now in a transitory phase. In this process of understanding. I tried to understand what I did. So one thing is that you have connections to what you do, or what you did, and then to see it differently, it becomes more like an object which you can turn.
In the performance something particular resonated for me. I have had encounters revisiting the place [the woods] where I would love to do it. Also the readings and this combination of displacement from the work and replacement and being in this no-wasteland at the very moment of imagination, how to combine this and that and doing imaginary collages, how it could look like and thinking about how or what would it mean then when this material, as it will be done by 20 people. How would the material be transformed in the space? What means the inflatable heart and the woods? The other thing is the reading of the nature of trees from the unlearned and why do I need knowledge, which is the authorized knowledge or am I able to simply read a tree? And what could be my grammar and how this process of creating a grammar can be exchanged then with others? How with touching and testing this environment, what can resonate?

FR
From this space of knowing and not knowing and reacting?

CB
On one hand having a kind of some grammar, which is already thinkable how it can be transformed, but not knowing when I give you a certain material, how I would re-understand the material looking at you, for example, and then I would ask you to do this material besides a tree. What suddenly appears when there is an interrelation, a transposition of existing material, imagining the multiplication and melting with other bodies, on the other hand imagining materials in this particular condition of space. And on the other hand lines of other focuses which can generate material. And also, we started now to contact experts, which have more like biological background. It's good to have the narrative, but at the same time to enable myself to go again and try to see what I find. Also the spatial associations it's so interesting, because the space is always different. Because it's depends on the smell, the temperature, the number of birds, the number of dogs, it's never the same space, because it's a permanent living organism.

FB
Depending on the smell also, plants communicate through smell. And so it's interesting how we don't understand that language at all. And of course they're saying something, who knows what, and it changes as the smells change?

CB
Yeah. And also the colors and how the colors in contrast with the sky, you know? And how the whole space changes, because there are many trees where the leaves fall down. You have skeletons of the trees. And now you see the layer of the young trees coming. But I didn't see it before because they were the massive trees. Yeah, the orchestra of all this leaves being played by the wind. And then the body in this environment, and then you invite others to join, this testing the body or the organization of bodies with this existing organism and their already existing communication and how we can learn. Communications melting with an environment, I’m super curious.

Frida Robles is an independent artist and curator. Artist in residence in Austria, Germany, Sweden, Portugal, USA, Senegal and India. She is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Applied Arts. Her thesis focuses on contemporary performance artists from Southern Africa who deal with traditional healing methods to recount or embody social, collective and personal pasts.

Claudia Bosse is an artist, choreographer and director and the artist director of theatercombinat, a transdisziplinary performance formation based in Vienna. She is creating internationally site specific performances and installation dealing with myth, violence, political thoughts and poetic subversions.



www.theatercombinat.com theatrale produktion und rezeption