The trio “We Insist” is visiting Oslo this weekend, and consists of sound artist Jassem Hindi (France), and the dance artists Rani Nair (Sweden) and Mia Habib (Norway). The special attention Dance House has given various projects by Habib in 2009, and the extensive collaboration with “Du Store Verden!” and the project “We Insist- Nord” emphasises the notion of Habib as one of the most important young stage artists from Norway.
“We Insist” brings traces of numerous journeys and existential explorations of relations and the frontiers of place, identity, power and powerlessness, into the performance in the black box format. Dance House also presents an exhibition of documentation from other places they have worked in and with. Through travels to Porto, Damascus, Marrakech, Belfort and Mexicali (a district on the border of USA and Mexico), the trio has approached different societies and spatial conditions with their existential tools of exploration- and the main element of the performances: body and sound.
Microstructure. Mia Habib’s work has developed in its research on identity as crisis and conflict zone. It lets the question of identity go beyond it’s own search for the pronounced focus on origin on the one side, and negation based relativism on the other. In the collaboration with Nair and Hindi, Habib has moved to a place where the question of identity is impressed with an insistence on the presence in the microstructures; in the body, in the space, and in the insistence on continuous movement and exploration of limits. It comes across as both a question and comment to violence seen as an abstract description of suffering in the world. It is explored as an unavoidable principle of reality in the stream of restrictions and possibilities the individual and society continuously have to balance.
Landscape poetry. Three creatures in a landscape, leaning like sculptured blocks of stone against a mountain wall, like wedges resting between two extreme opposites, mountains and air. Three creatures in a cornfield, firm looks through the mist. Three silhouettes are seen from behind sitting in line, staring into the open landscape, a mellow horizon. The words “We Insist” hangs in the sky like an inscription above the three silent bodies, perhaps denoting a new type of revolt.
The photographies are a part of the “We Insist” documentation material (project catalogue and photography- and film exhibition in the foyer of Dance house). The photos have an inherent tangible quality, a static vibrating situation, defined by the three bodies, that penetrates the one dimensional picture surface. This atmosphere is also conveyed in the black box performance, where the three artists balance the static and explosive, but still retain the organic character. They work the room through insisting on the exploration of set conditions and limits, restrictions and the potential for movement and anti-movement.
Dance Macabre. During the open run-through, the trio was still at the stage of exploration. Still, their powerful language of form transforms the dance to an existential seismograph through a series of shakes, collapses and to a type of virus infected life, where the performers alternates between positions infected by power on the one hand, and powerlessness on the other.
The run-through I saw can also be interpreted as a contemporary dance macabre where an existential uprising merges with disclosure and collapse, reminding us about the potential violence of all earthly self-glorification. In accordance with Nair and Habib’s uncompromising dance, Hindi’s live sound work is a constant reminder of human’s challenging pull between the organic and the mechanical. Which in turn, is reminiscent of a state of being, a world, where no place is void of violence.
Removing fiction. Not passing judgement.
A dance show that is more a image of sound than movement and more stage art than dance. The exceeding genre fits The House of Dance.
In the same week that the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss dies, constructivism is put to life at Dance House in Oslo. The multicultural concept trio We Insist are having their dress rehearsal. ”To insist is a way of exploring” insists sound- and noise musician Jassem Hindi. The noise he creates is perhaps essential in counterbalancing his bright intellect. Mia Habib, who Dance House has given particular focus in 2009, has brought Hindi and the dancer Rani Nair to Oslo after meeting them in Madagascar in 2007. Since then, they have been insisting several places around the world.
The element that unifies the performances is an interminable length of black cable. The cables tie the black clad and undressed bodies together with heavy electronics. The performers crawl around like moles in the dark. The deep, monotone noise does not cease, even though the lights are turned on. Spotlights are put on the audience; I can almost hear the performers throwing themselves like moths to the light. After a while I see the skid marks left by the in numerous soles that have slipped on the plastic mats. In that way the secret story of the black box, supposedly neutral in the service of fiction, reveals itself to me.
The performances only constitute the effect of the process behind We Insist, says Hindi. In my opinion, We Insist is more than the trio and their stage art; it is a way of being present in the world. The trio enters a given place and reads signs as a mirroring of the events and people there. They reveal socio-cultural structures, seeking clues and sediments. They locate the crossing point where the visible reflects the invisible. Without hesitation they put the spotlight on the audience, burning the light onto their retinas. The noise finally stops. I then notice the growl of the excavators outside, hammering the shovel in the frost so the house shakes. I can hear the slow dancers lying sudden falls from low height. The noise has made me listen. The blinding light has made me see.
We Insist is the third and last project Mia Habib arranges, curates and performs in satsingsåret. She and Guilherme Garrido performed ”A Couple Dance” in March. In April, she and twelve colleagues from the artist network “Sweet and Tender” moved into Dance House, making it the “Living House”. The art director of the house, Karene Lyngholm says “Mia creates performances with great commitment, and has a unique ability to find important and dynamic partners from all over the world with different artistic backgrounds. Mia is important for us in Norway now.” I certainly have to agree on that.
Hear and see Dance House! Go watch “We Insist”.