Chunky Move’s latest production marries an exquisite installation by American sculptor Reuben Margolin with choreographer Gideon Obarzanek’s ‘installation’ of moving bodies.
Describing a work like this felt counterproductive.
For me, the most honest and dynamic response is a ‘creative’ one. A kind of prose poem dreamed up inside the emotional space into which Connected welcomed me.
Reuben Margolin : ‘There’s two different ways to approach art. And they’re both true. And one of them is that the world is a beautiful place. And it’s full of highlights, and it’s full of sparkles. And it’s full, you know, kind of... dawns and dusk and mystery, beauty... And the other one is that it has a structure behind it [...] And to me, the... the difference between the two ways of sort of looking at the world is sort of the difference between whether you are reaching out to touch the world, or whether you’re letting the world touch you.’
- Part of a discussion with Gideon Obarzanek and Reuben Margolin on the Malthouse Theatre’s YouTube channel
Imagine a loom.
Imagine the two of us.
Imagine a thread. A hundred threads.
A breathing, soothing, suffocating web of all we have been and all we can be.
And there it is: above us, around us, between us, connecting us, restricting us, contouring us, protecting us, mapping us, celebrating us, archiving us, and preventing us from ever moving forwards, backwards, or even sidewards from where we are.
It is a complex net of mathematical equations, modelling each and every moment of contact between us. The first time I touched your skin – there, that thread, and its interaction across an axis of memory. There – that curl and twist of the cloth, that is our last misunderstanding.
We created it. But now its tangles are our tears and ridicule. And the space is empty of us.
I used to love you, you know. I can’t imagine when it was that things began to change. But it was like something unravelling at unbearable speed. A breathless loss and the watching of something undone. Something once beautiful and careful. Something safe.
It’s just that it wasn’t a mystery, any more, once we stopped touching. I knew you too well, and we read each other with too much history and not enough empathy. I tried to let go of the things that mattered to me, so that you could still breathe the way you needed to. And you tried the same, I do realise. But it was our habits that knotted us together, and they relied on us as much as we did on them. And without the tangles there was nothing left to Us.
But this isn’t how the story was supposed to go.
There was this one time – do you remember this? – when you took me to the beach. And I’d never swum in the sea, only in the river near where my grandfather lived in the wooden cottage left by an apple picker before him. It was a freak of a hot day in mid-March, and we drove the three hours in your old green two-door. No air conditioning. Except none of our cars had air conditioning then, so I only add that part now, looking back.
I would have been scared of the sea if I’d stopped to think about it. But I was caught up in other things. Watching you. Learning you. Being a part of the thing that wrapped around us two. I don’t think I told you I’d never swum in the sea.
It breathed around me, swallowed me, heaved me up again, forgot me, embraced me. I wanted to know what drowning felt like.
You pull me closer, and I feel lost. You push me away, and I am claustrophobic. I try to touch you, but instead there is just the memory of Us. There’s an illusion of strength, when really all that’s there is this incredible fragility, and anyone who’s anyone can see that.
A cloud of our thoughts hangs above us, impermeable like a thunderstorm, porous like skin. Your frustration weaves its way through my desperation and we’re trapped and comforted by the cloth we weave around each other. It breathes with us and expands and contracts as we bless each other’s sadness.
I can see you straining against the weight of it: all our history and entanglement. It’s a beautiful, beautiful weight and it holds you in arcs and inclines of peace and anticipation, and your resistance against it is full of intent and integrity. But I see your exhaustion and I want to lift that weight away from you so just for one moment you can breathe. Or perhaps I want to cut you away from me?
And at the moment I release you I see that it was a mistake. With nothing to heave against, your heart falls slack and you are empty.
But it is still there: above us, around us, between us, connecting us, restricting us, contouring us, protecting us, mapping us, celebrating us, archiving us, and preventing us from ever moving forwards, backwards, or even sidewards from where we are.