Share this Article

Parallels, correspondences and mirrors – a response to PBLIVE20 | Daniella Valz Gen

14th November 2020

Parallels, correspondences and mirrors, on ways of relating beyond the screen.A response to Unbordering and Fuglen, der.

I miss the tangible sensation of being part of the audience as a body, instead of pushing through digital fatigue and the reflection of my own tired face on the screen. In witnessing performance, I realise how essential it is to disengage from myself in order to return to it in an enriched way. 

Through these works I am both pulled away and returned to myself in distinct and new ways. Beyond the performances themselves, their locations and each particular voice of intimate urgency, there’s the meeting point, the space where the work touches us, me. At a time of scarcity of touch, the choice to open up to be moved, as a remote audience member, is perhaps more vital and intentional, and also more laboured. As is the attempt to articulate the affect that the work has in a coherent way. In this breve account therefore there are many gaps. 

In Fuglen, der (The Bird, There), a Digital Performance Lecture by Lasse Lau, the echo-like effects of viruses such as covid-19 and AIDS are evoked through the experience of the artist. Lasse Lau tells us about hurting the same places in our bodies over and over again as a description of the loops of trauma, which contrasted with the graceful, light and quick reflections and images of birds, and the artist’s own body amongst trees, open up a space for complexity that refuses to settle on anything conclusive. This quick shifting space generated by the images is a form of respite away from the cycle of trauma and from language.

In RE:seeding, in correspondence, performance to camera by Jade Montserrat, We are exposed to contrast as we watch the artist ‘perform making the walls clean, good and white again’ –as the narration emphasises, and wash out the phrases drawn in charcoal Expendable bodies in unspeakable isolation and Perpetual renewal felt as a triumph of life. The tiredness of Jade’s body is palpable, yet her voice richly and generously animates the piece as it describes what we see. 

We are presented with a series of correspondences; hands washing a wall, to handling seeds and then hacking overgrown weeds; a body dressed to perform the task of cleaning in front of a camera, and then that same body, late at night, now in a much more private setting and handling the camera on their own terms. This piece has left me with a strong sensation that I find hard to describe and I want to dwell on. My thoughts bounce from the labour of the performance of labour, to the materiality of both charcoal and soil, from walls to ground, day to night, and mirror images on split screen evoking selves that unfold and reveal different facets. I’m left with a sense of multiplicity of selves, of tones, of actions, all grounded in one body. 

In Lavender Man, the intimate conversation between Tania El Khoury in Beirut and Mohamad Ali “Dali” Agrebi in Malta is interspersed with moments of synchronised movement. As Tania and Dali narrate the story of their friendship, their collaboration and the unforeseen events that unfolded through the work they did together, they pause to mirror each other’s movements. Beyond words, this gesture evokes their relationship, and somehow also invites the viewer, on the other side of the screen, into a reflection of closeness through distance. 

Through these works, I find a series of mirror images and thoughts that constelate different facets of relationships: to past wounds and experiences, to performance and the various facets that we hold in one moment, to our own bodies, our selves and each other through distance. Witnessing these pieces through a screen in the privacy of my home, emphasised the points of resonance and allowed me to linger within that complexity in a way that feels part of that remote constellation, therefore in relationship with the energies behind each work.

—-

Daniella Valz Gen is an artist and a poet born in Lima and living in London. Valz Gen is the author of the poetry collection Subversive Economies (PSS, 2018), has published in various journals, and teaches creative writing workshops. Their work is focused on embodiment and liminality through an ongoing practice of tarot and ritual within the container of Sacred Song Tarot. Valz Gen is currently developing the next stages of (Be)longing, a series of landscape interventions and poetry reflecting on the relationship between body and elemental forces.