A space where parallel universes meet. una conversación con Mette Edvardsen


Hace un par de años, cuando empecé a escribir mi ensayo en estudios visuales Espectropolíticas, asistí por primera vez a una de las performances de Mette Edvardsen. Entonces estaba investigando otras formas de ver fuera de nuestra visión habitual y normativa. Me preguntaba cómo podemos conectar con algo, ver algo, que ni siquiera podemos imaginar. O, cómo podemos llegar a entender lo que todavía no ha pasado pero que ya está ahí, observándonos. Movida por estas cuestiones le propuse a Mette conversar sobre sus invocaciones visuales.

La visualidad en el trabajo de Mette es limítrofe y opera en la brecha entre el mundo que vemos y nuestras ideas sobre él, entre el aquí y el allí. Sus trabajos son una escritura corpórea en el espacio-tiempo que es aditiva y sustractiva a su vez. Como un escrito que traza y borra, que se mueve y se detiene, que mira las cosas que no están ahí y recupera lo que sí está. Así nos lo explica en la conversación que compartimos con vosotrxs y que decidimos no traducir al castellano para no desviar el sentido de las palabras, ya que, para Mette, las palabras son la fórmula mágica que nos permite acceder al espacio donde se dan encuentro universos paralelos.

NÚRIA GÓMEZ GABRIEL –Mette, before we begin, I would like to ask you about this parallel universe you yearn to be in contact with. What are you working on now? 

METTE EDVARDSEN –For the piece Black (2011) I was thinking about a parallel universe as a way to expand the connections, or imagination if you like, to the (physical) space we are in. As if trying to explain the ‘missing link’. The objects that ‘appear’, where do they come from? So, to make something abstract very concrete and tangible, and then to follow that thought, even if in a playful way, adding on the imagination of what is not here – but may exist elsewhere. I don’t use the term parallel universes in this way for my other works, but if we think of it poetically, these are the different spaces within us, each of us. I work on micro-actions, to practice listening, imagining, being/ presence. It’s about opening up other spaces in the imagination, to construct something else. My last piece Penelope sleeps (2019), made in collaboration with composer Matteo Fargion, is an opera written as an essay. It was about the voice and the internal space. How can we create a situation for an internal journey, one that is not dictated by the narrative, but where the narrative yields to us, brings us along, creating a field for us to rest upon, to wander and digress. My task, as I saw it, was not to write a story but to write in time. A space to enter and listen, to be in parallel universes.

NGG –I went into Auditorio 400 in the Nouvel building of the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid and sat down on the stage of the theatre. To my left there were many empty seats in the sloped stalls, pushed back into the darkness. You then came near and called on the first object of those that make up the scenography of your piece. A table. Or the idea of a table. Pronounced eight times. Calling the object by its name eight times to make it visible to our imagination. Just like the eight beats laid out for a dance or the eight hours prescribed by a doctor. A table, an apple, a bottle of water, a corner, slipping, falling, drawing near… but only your body and your voice are physically present in the theatre. In the description of Black, you comment that «a world will become visible», set «between here and there», and this makes me think of the number eight as a magical formula. What is it that an eight cannot enumerate?

ME –That’s an interesting question – what it cannot enumerate – because when I started making Black I had the feeling that it could be everything, at least everything that I could pronounce. I am not really working with what is before language here, but I am starting in an empty space. I wanted to begin with ‘nothing’. Then through naming and relating to things, I make them appear. Of course I question or play with what is there, here, what we can ‘see’ (imagine). For instance the table and the chair visibly move, and there are the traces of the cup and the book, the drop of coffee from the spoon, and dust that accumulates. The «world that becomes visible» is made up of the things we build in the space, that we see or project into space – words spoken in the repetition of eight or my body relating to them. Then there are also gaps, other words like adjectives, pronouns – thoughts, associations – but it’s not all meaning, the next thing can also be generated by sound and rhythm. So the repetition of eight was some kind of magic formula. It made it possible to make things appear, not just as an idea, but also to make it ‘physical’ by insisting on it. It was the time of a thought.

NGG –Now that a few months have gone by since your solo performance at Auditorio 400 in the Museo Reina Sofia, I recall the experience as a ritual or game of magic, with occult influences, like a spell working like a vision machine. In his definition of the term spell (conjuration in French), French philosopher Jacques Derrida speaks of a political alliance, at times secret in nature, of a plot or conspiracy that strives to neutralise a hegemony or overthrow an existing power («The exorcising of spirits by invocation»«the exercise of magical or occult influence»). In this regard, do you believe that Black works like a spell or incantation? What or who does it see in us over the course of the performance?