Rotozaza: Etiquette

Fuse Box

April 24 - May 3, 2008
by Kate Watson

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      Performance documentation from Etiquette
      Created and produced by Rotozaza (London)
      Presented as part of the Fuse Box Festival 2008
      Photograph by Ant Hampton and Bruce Parain

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      Strap on your headphones and prepare for quite a ride. Duo Ant Hampton and Silvia Mercuriali (a.k.a. Rotozaza)’s Etiquette beautifully crushes the line between various media, yet manages to remain masterfully simple. In this piece meant only for two, partners sit at a table in the courtyard of Café Mundi and are given the barest of instructions: put on the headphones and follow the directions you hear. When the recording begins, participants suddenly find themselves in a private world, acting as both performers and audience. Murmured directions and binaural environmental recordings create the sensation of actually being onstage, where partners reenact a wonderful mashup of scenarios referencing everything from Ibsen to Godard. The soundtrack, however, ultimately melts away, becoming far less important than the person you are facing. Focusing entirely on one other, partners manipulate miniature props across a glorious chalkboard stage on the table between them. Following instructions to recreate a dreamlike tale of love, loss and loneliness, both people become pawns in an intimate, rambling adventure for two. Simple action becomes miraculously moving in Etiquette: at its climax, one partner is instructed to apply droplets to her eyes using an eyedropper. Suddenly, at the right moment, the droplets seem to take on the emotional weight of actual tears. The combination of these tiny, elegant scenarios becomes an experience similar to a splendid inside joke, a painful memory and perhaps a story you overheard long ago... all rolled into one.

      Kate Watson lives and works in Austin, Texas. She is a founding member of the Austin Video Bee.

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