BEAUTY OF DESPAIR
Somewhere – in a non-defined, unknown or forgotten place – order collapses into chains of irrational associations. There we meet two bodies diving into the abyss of chaos, trying to separate movement from time where organic life is at stake. 2011-2012
In QUARTO´S ambitious, artistic, choreographical and philosophical work, the pair investigates interpersonal power relations, but also humanity’s relationship with nature. These themes became very evident during the company’s residence in Brazil when one of the most devastating natural catastrophes took place in the town that Leandro Zappala and Anna Mesquita were creating and researching. QUARTO´S new performance reflects upon actual and possible hope, freedom and utopia. What have we lost? Are these losses tangible, ideological, political? What is the triggering action? What´s up to be done? This project is the second part of the second trilogy of the company. Initiated 2010 in Sweden under a three yearlong artistic residence at the Giljotin Theatre. It has also been produced under one yearlong residence at SITE (production centre for performing arts) in Stockholm. 2011 the project continued during an artistic residence in Brazil where new collaborations were established and developed.
QUARTO invited a philosopher, a cultural sociologist and a political scientist to reflect upon the issues raised in the piece. After each performance the audience had the opportunity to stay and listen to the guest’s reflections as to stimulate thought.
“What have vegetables got to do with this? Vegetables do not eat pills. Vegetables do not smoke cigarettes. Vegetables do not wear wigs. They do not use artificial methods to control their emotions and they don’t hide behind symbolic attributes. This would allow the vegetables to be the play’s most authentic subject if it was not for the fact that vegetables do not feel pain. The pain I feel when the carrot and leek are pierced with toothpicks is a reflection of my own pain. It is not conveyed to me through someone else’s feelings, expressions or experiences. It has nothing to do with empathy, compassion or solidarity. The vegetables are a projection surface, a white sheet. Green is the colour of freedom. What has beauty and despair got to do with all of this? Beauty is a form of order, pattern, and harmony. The Greeks found it in the golden section of divine proportions. Modern research shows that the most important way for us to perceive a face as beautiful is through symmetry. Despair, on the other hand, breaks patterns, crushes the harmony and creates chaos and disorder. If Hobbes found freedom in the regularity of beauty, Arendt found it in unpredictable behaviour of despair. When Mohammed Buoazizi soaked himself in petrol and burned herself to death on the 17th of December last year, it was a desperate act that had unexpected consequences. A wave of protests spread across state borders, the freedom cries echoed, tyrannical regimes were driven from power, war broke out. The cause of his despair was that government officials harassed him, spit on him, beaten him and took away from him his cart and cash register with which he ran his commerce and supported his family. He sold vegetables.
What were we talking about?”
PhD student and teacher in political science at Stockholm University
“For Spinoza the world, or nature, is constituted of an infinitely complex whole in which every single creature or thing expresses a certain degree of force, a force that is in constant interaction with all other surrounding forces. It is a whole in which everything is one, but simultaneously infinitely differentiated, in perpetual motion, in constant relations of composition and decomposition. Its also a world where no moral models or overtones exist, but the question is rather about how, and in which ways, the different forces interact with each other, how they strengthen or weaken each other, how they seem creative or destructive. The interplay between forces is what lies in the centre: in other words it all boils down to the question of how forces – We, all, humans and everything else combined: how we affect each other, constantly, consciously, unconsciously, intentionally, unintentionally and in this joint affection constantly comes into existence, take new forms, creates identities, amounts to new constellations.
So far it is, in my view, not hard to see how this performance depicts such affectivity or games of forces: how everything that comes into existence or dissolves becomes different formations of forces. Inseparably, connected and identical, incessantly lacerating, differentiating, transforming. In other words, one can also speak of it in terms of a floating affectivity that shows how all emotions and moods are panting close together, almost imperceptibly shifts from one to another: love lies close to hate, pleasure to pain, joy rises to the extent that it becomes unbearable and transforms into sorrow: it’s just a matter of composition, context and the subtle differences of degree. Perhaps this is what we have seen – or at least this is one of the entrances to what Beauty of Despair raises.”
Philosopher Fredrika Spindler
Assistant professor at Södertörn University. PhD in philosophy in 1996 from Université de Montpellier, dissertation: Philosophie de la puissance et détermination de l’homme chez Spinoza et chez Nietzsche. Has published extensively on Spinoza, Nietzsche and Deleuze. In 2005-07 co-responsible for research project ”The ingraspable art: Hannah Arendt and Friedrich Nietzsche’s Rethinking of Aesthetics and Politics” (Baltic Sea Foundation), and also ”Explorative Architecture”, Chalmers School of Technology (Formas, 2002-2004).
Premiered 14 May 2011 at the MADE Festival at NorrlandsOperan Sweden
Performed 9 evenings during September 2011 at the Giljotin Theatre in Stockholm
Performed in Rio de Janeiro | 10th 11th of December | GLAUCE ROCHA THEATER
Artistic director, dramaturgy, choreography and performer: Leandro Zappala
Choreography, dramaturgy and performer: Anna af Sillén de Mesquita
Sound designer: Lucas Marcier
Lighting designer: Tobias Hallgren
Costume and set designer: Anna af Sillén de Mesquita
Video: Palle Lindqvist
Dramaturgical assistance: Denise Milfont
Marketing and Press: Lena Uhlander and Titti Grahl
Production assistant: Mariana Gomes
Co-production: Teater Giljotin, SITE (production centre for performing arts), JUNTO and MADE Festival
Graphic design and production: QUARTO
Supported by: The Swedish Arts Council, Stockholm’s Culture Committee and the Swedish Arts Grants Committee.