Compagnie 111 - "Sans objet" by Aurélion Bory
March 6, 2010
It doesn't seem far-fetched to imagine that the inspiration for Aurélian Bory's "Sans objet", performed by Compagnie 111 in Paris on Théâtre de la Ville's program at Les Abbesses last night, had something to do with their being situated in the heart of one of France's industrial centers for aviation and car manufacturing in Toulouse. I say this because the principal player in this full length trio is an enormous robot, which I presume initially functioned in the assembly line of a car manufacturing facility in the region. Removed from this context and placed on a platform in a theatre with two men in black suits, the robot is without the objects it was created to manipulate (massive sheets of heavy metal come to mind). Detached in this way from its intended function, one could also say that it is without purpose as well. But one could not say that it is without personality. Or power.
In the beginning, the lights reveal (and create the exquisite illusion of) an immense shining sculpture. It's lines are fluid curves and arcs, in the way that fabric falls. And as it slowly moves, gracefully flowing and transforming from one shape to another like an enormous giant made of liquid mercury, there is a harsh and heavy sound that pops unexpectedly. And the lights play in almost every possible way with this moving form, revealing its beauty and grace through the gradations of shadow and color and light. The revelation that what we are looking at is in fact an enormous black plastic material (that reminds me strongly of garbage can liners) draped over a giant machine is a shock that is delivered slowly. How could anyone see such beauty in a black plastic coated form? And how could we have overlooked for so long the beauty of how the light plays on its mundane-seeming surface?
Even when bared, the lighting still angles in on the thing in such a way that it is not revealed as a hideous or heartless mechanism at all, but rather as a creature of infinite sculptural beauty and possibility. It is only when one of the performers puts his head into the "head" or "mouth" or "hand" of the thing, and is manipulated through the surrounding space, that we might realize that this robot is essentially one great appendage. And the machine has found an object! Which doesn't deny the fact that great care, seeming almost like tenderness, is given to the manipulation of this new found object.
And then the two performers ride on the thing. A flying dragon is called to mind, or a slow and heavy circus ride. But it is not in service to these humans in any way -- they must adjust and adapt to it. And they do so with a simplicity and functionality that demands what seems to be inhuman and impossible strength... (to read the entire article, go to: http://annmoradian-perspectives.blogspo ... -2010.html