First, a pulley, and two ropes attached to it. Two women, together, arriving her before us. There is talk of falling; and in the fall, histories are brought to the present; fictions are made real; and identities are starting taking shape, though nothing is ever stable.
Then there is a gentle confrontation; a triptych of sorts that takes us into private spaces, forests, into memories and recollections. We hear about identity, control and representation. In front of us, right here, we are traced by another gaze, and invinted to think about our own.
Lucy Hutson’s Bound and Haranczak/Navarre’s (Karen Christopher and Sophie Grodin) miles and miles consider a similar problem: one beautifully choreographic and shifting: that of being in free-fall; of enjoying the weight of gravity whilst seeking different routes. Falling as letting-go.
In a recent article for online journal e-flux, artist Hito Steyerl talks about falling as a contemporary condition; she recounts of the ways in which we find ourselves in a constant process of free-fall, a kind of groundlessness that shifts our perspective. We are no longer in the era of linear perspective, Steyerl proposes; instead, we find ourselves in the age of aerial images, of 3D nose-dives and surveillance panoramas. The curvature of the Earth becomes a metaphor for our constantly shifting vantage-point.
Both Bound and miles and miles examine this choreography of falling; there is no ground to find here- and that’s precisely what marks positions of power: it’s not about holding on, but about not being afraid of the fall. In Lucy Hutson’s Bound, this vantage point is examined through the prism of identity. Hutson speaks with candour and openness about her own discomforts to do with gender and the control we take to gauge its representation; about the shifting categories she finds herself in different situations, and about learning not to cling on. She’s divided even as she speaks to us, from three different rooms, in three different moments of her life, on three different screens: an identity triptych. Her presence in the room is a returned gaze, looking back at us, attempting to trace our own representations; her digital one, more vulnerable and flippant.
Bound is a compelling performance about representation; in the form of this digital triptych, personal narratives turn to invitations. Hutson overlays autobiography and social politics skilfully and seamlessly; we feel confided in and as a result, access a different way of thinking about our own need to control representations of our identity. Hutson’s performance is one of empowerment, speaking candidly about a commitment to individual transgression.
We want to have the confidence that we know who we are; or what somehow, what we are remains real, controlled. Bound is a sharp, gentle confrontation with this certainty; it prefers to move across and between, rather than stay put. miles and miles takes a different approach. This is a duet about falling, about the possibility of being captured by someone else; maybe even about being saved. In that way, it’s as much about collaboration, thresholds and free-fall, as it is about the moments Christopher and Grodin re-enact. This pulley, it’s not there to move; and the rope, it’s only there to help trace a journey. In their journey, the two performers speak candidly of cinematic moments, of memories, of dreams and propositions. They speak as Ingrid Bergman and Alfred Hithcock; as people recounting moments that are not theirs; as two women, onstage with each other, and with us.
It struck me how rare it is to see a duet of women onstage; and how wonderful it is to engage with something that is so unhinged- for which you need to trace your own journey, without the necessity of unity. miles and miles is falling; it is groundlessness. It is also friendship, and working something from the unknown, and gently excavating the collective and individual memories that make up a theatrical encounter. It is to me, about what we might bring to this gathering, and what we might leave with; about being together in that exchange. About that scene from Vertigo and gaze, about King Lear and language, and about the memory of someone else.
Christopher and Grodin always invite us to wander, then bring us back, and we enjoy watching them find their way back to us. In ropes, a ladder, water and a pulley, we jump from mountains together, feel the cold air brushing against our cheeks, pinches of water on our hands. Moments of silence allow us to weave ourselves back into this strange encounter, and we never have time to find our feet, because we search for the ropes in between, gladly following their lead.