Folds and waves: the horizon of the membrane (Jefta van Dinther, Grind)

A dull light pulsates against a white wall. An echoing high noise vibrates through the room. The hardly discernable man frantically struggles with something, a struggle that paints shadows on the wall. The man and the object are doubled and amplified by the waves of the sound and light. The scene is suggestive, but manages to avoid both the affected and the explanatory. An immediate materiality is created that is neither organic, nor belonging to things. The object turns out to be a piece of cloth. A black piece of cloth – the negative surface the white wall requires. It coincides with the room’s darkness; its folds make it possible to discern the waves of the room.

Out of Jefta van Dinther’s frenzied movements a liberating childish association grows, in answer of resistance to the violent impressions. Isn’t it Osvaldo Cavandolis ”La Linea” that reveals itself there as a shadowy figure? He, who continuously is being shaped and then dissolves, and angrily accuses the hand that draws him. The parable appears to be less far-fetched than was first suspected. The light and sound ‘draws’ the body with its waves. The body replies. The result is a sensation of ”spasmics” instead of a ”motorics”. The body ‘draws’ the sound and light and everything appears to be linked, without reaching completion according to rehearsed patterns.

A while later the drawn line is released and turns into matter as van Dinther starts hauling in the tangles of wires. What previously was a play of dimensions, now is a system of linkages. The pile of cloth is put aside and van Dinther begins tugging at the cords, in the same way he gathered fabric. His body, constantly spastic, catches the waves. The room as surface transforms into the room as vibration. In the end, the lines lift up the surface/fabric into the ceiling where it hangs, suspended, before it falls down again, as if the cycle can continue.

The white wall on which van Dinther’s body is being doubled by the light turns out to be covered by a net-like texture. It is a membrane and the membrane becomes an image of the surface that moves toward the line, via the vibrations of the waves. The membrane is also the case of the body; whatever these bodies look like. The issue of what ‘draws’ what – the hand the figure or the figure the hand – is replaced by an image of the membranes in a continuous string towards synchronization.

In the end the title ”Grind”, appears as somewhat misleading. This is not about grinding, about something violently forced through the membrane. Body, sound and music are presented as frequencies, as lines and surfaces in motion. An invisible condition emerges. The most liberating in this ”illustration” is that it does not release into a discharging. With precision, all the pitfalls that could lead to affect and valuation are avoided. The performance leads instead to an open pedagogy that possesses the good taste not to explain. The figure of La Linea is not even angry.

The tremendous intensity created during “Grind” can be traced back to a strong and unusually successful meeting between choreography (van Dinther), lighting design (Minna Tiikkainen) and sound (David Kiers and Emptyset). The three elements both illustrate and support each other with consistency, skill and emphasis. The show becomes a synthesis of the different art forms that make no detours to seize the viewer. Everything becomes a strangely familiar yet unknown pulse that meets and sets all the membranes of the viewer in motion.

Axel Andersson

First published in Swedish in Tidningen Kulturen, 21.12.2011. English transaltion by [here]

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