Institut del Teatre/Museu de les Arts Escèniques, Barcelona / Performing Arts Research Centre, Helsinki
Reacclimatizations is a video-scenic installation based on the study of the floral stage frames (or “wings”) of theater models (teatrines) of the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, kept in the archives of the Museum of Scenic Arts (MAE), in the Institut del Teatre (Theatre Academy) of Barcelona.
The material study of the selected archives is combined with a theoretical focus on the performativity of the vegetal in Catalan modernism and in contemporary architecture. It is also informed by the examination of the scenographic “regenerative” views of Adrià Gual.
The project stems from my doctoral artistic research on scenic thinking, (re)directing and time ecology. More specifically it looks into the revision of human agency (the director’s position) in the production of theater, in relation to more-than-human -entities, climates and environments.
In the continuation of the project Backdrop – installed in May 2017 in the Research Pavilion in the context of the 57th Venice Biennial – Reacclimatizations revisits the history of western theater sets -language and materiality. It proposes another example of reshuffling of the conventional scenic agencies, so far strictly distributed between anthropocentric proscenium and non-human backstage.
In this (re)direction the project reiterates the research question: how to ecologically revise, re-negotiate and re-establish the human aesthetic production of a stage? This structural reset is ethically facing the double-bind of 1. the need of minimizing of the agency of the director in relation to other-than-human earthly living entities/biospheric phemomena, and 2. the poetical and political necessity of maintaining, even strengthening, a production of imaginary in relation to other-than-human expanding techno/artificial-environments.
The installed artwork consists of:
- Ten looping gifs – made of altered details of photographs of the studied theatre set models, which I shot during my research in the reserves of the MAE – projected on a tracing paper, hung as a backdrop, in an acrylic showcase box
- An enlarged page of the book of transcripts of a test, based on the questions of the Rorscharch test, that I carried out with six guests/examinees who were exposed to the work during the research residency in Barcelona.
The title Reacclimatizations refers directly to the history – contemporary of the studied models – of the “gardens of acclimatization”. These gardens appeared in the colonialist Europe of the second half of the 19th century in order to contribute to the introduction and “acclimatization” of exotic vegetal species for the entertainment of botanical zoos’ visitors and eventual agricultural, pharmaceutical and commercial exploitation. Hence to reacclimate here critically alludes to a possible inversion process of this historical appro- priation of the flora.
Through this study of the historical displacement of floral architectonics, from the ornamental to the structural, from the decorative to the performative, Reacclimatizations considers the possible revision of the place of the vegetal in the contemporary systems of representation and the mise-en-scène of what we used to call “nature”.
By the materializiation of the hybridizing collision between archives of theatre sets, dendritic architecture, psychoanalysis (Rorschach test), genetic engineering (Frankenstein myth) and new computational modes of representation (gifs/videogames), Reacclimatizations invites the spectator to an ambiguous, possibly paradoxical, scenic experience on agential regeneration, in a time of the transitionning of my practice of directing among living and artificial co-actants.
Reacclimatizations was realized during a three-month research residency at the Institut del Teatre/ Museu de les Arts Escèniques of Barcelona during the spring 2018 and first shown during the Night of the Museums Barcelona 2018.
The research project was carried out in collaboration with Dra. Anna Solanilla Roselló (Professor of scenography at l’Escola Superior d’Art Dramàtic/Institut del teatre) and with the help of Carme Carreño Pombar (Museu de les Arts Escèniques).
The research residency was supported by the Erasmus exchange program and the Performing Arts Research Center / Tutke – Uniarts Helsinki.
Reacclimatizations test: 7 – 19.5 2018 – Institut del Teatre
Installation : 19.5.2018 – Night of the Museums, Museu de les Arts Escèniques
Installation: August 2018 – Theatre Academy, Helsinki