At first, I notice the stillness, and the abstraction. In a black box theatre, on a white box stage, a body stands, head hanging low, hair dripping to the ground. Movement takes a long time, and is always partial. I have seen this before, somewhere, I am not entirely sure where. Another slight shift, and the image feels unrecognisable, in transit.
It takes a long time for the body to make its way up, and the process is not visible; the body’s movements mark the passing of time, and jump like a glitched image, until arms are outstretched. I am not sure if this is a body, falling, or a body suspended in mid-air. There is no sense of direction to the movement, only uplift and downfall.
Later, once I begin to embody the movement, to sense the energy, I am struck by the silence in the space: the squeaking of feet on floor, the coughs and loud audience breaths that are slowly settling into a collective but disjointed attention. This becomes a soundscape that sometimes invades the stage, but by the time it gets there, the tone has changed. The body becomes dynamic before being still once more.
I think of all that fills the stage whilst Hugonnet’s body composes; I think of the female body and the collective gaze, and the instability of the composition in front of us or rather, what drifts into the room, unspoken and uncommitted.
I think of the uninterrupted rhythms of Rosas, of the intensity of Summer Storm, and of the transitional motions in Watermotor. There’s a deliberate containment of expressivity in Hugonnet’s work; Le Récital des postures engages in partial references: specific enough to be suggestive, and loose enough to not grip onto any single composition. Here, the body quotes as much as it enacts, providing a subjective, fragmented narrative of how bodies posture and are articulated, past and present.
This is a work about the visible as much as it is a work about postures. There is an obvious sculptural dimension invoked by Hugonnet’s body, but this never settles. There is no moment of stillness, only movements of varying scales. Towards the end, as Hugonnet becomes her own ventriloquist, the voice emerges, temporary and tentative.
There is a choreography of attention in which Hugonnet’s orientation, her commitment to being in this way, shape a landscape of feeling, and change register. I found myself thinking about the bodies invoked by Hugonnet, from Romanticism to pop culture, but I also found myself feeling the violence of a body, or the joy of a body, or the search of a body.
The London International Mime Festival is on until 5 February 2018. Click here for more details.