It’s hard to figure out what’s more impressive about the new technology-inflected dance work, BOD[E]SOFTWARE, which debuted at gallery space
this past Wednesday. The transfixing, hyperkinetic performance itself, or the fact that the whole thing was put together in a little less than 72 hours, with Art Helix Gallery Director Peter Hopkins and other staff literally keeping the 60-plus attendees at bay while staff hurriedly touched up last-minute details ahead of the performance.
Watching the first three dancers propped on several white pillars for the first 20 minutes, you’d have a hard time thinking BOD[E]SOFTWARE was anything other than well-coordinated, and honestly, kind of boring. The elevated dancers, moving at an almost glacial-like pace to a spare minimalist soundtrack provided by Wavejumper, are clad in an assortment of silk sheer pajamas and coarse military wool tops from New York fashion label Daimorf that wouldn’t seem out of place at a New York Fashion Week event, and the single-screen backdrop on the left wall of the space is little more than a top-down view of the main male dancer in the center of the room.
Once the other ten performers file in however, everything changes. The soundtrack becomes a bit more jumpy and disjointed, the facial expressions become a bit more contorted, and everything becomes gloriously unhinged, kind of like that scene in Matrix Revolutions when Neo gets back from fighting all the agents and just wants to get his freak on a little bit.
I kid in jest of course, but issues of gender, technology, and the mimetic effects of social media abound throughout the dance work. As the performers on the ground revolve around the central, elevated dancer in a ritualized, helpless display, the conceit of the gendered,
, driven by an almost epidemiological need to be seen at any and all costs, becomes apparent in pretty terrifying ways. This theme is actually helped, not hurt, by the small, seemingly unsuited back room of Art Helix because unlike a computer screen or iPhone, the sweat and energy of that “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! I’M DOING SOMETHING IMPORTANT” social media desperation is visceral, violent and in your face, in a way that’s a bit more slyly provocative by even Bushwick performance art standards. At one point, one of the dancers rubs her hands on her crotch, walks over to a girl seated on the wall and gestures for her to her smell her hand, an offer that was politely declined.
Rebecca Warzer, a neuroscience and dance major at Bennington College who conceived the piece along while studying under the experimental choreographer and performance artist, Sigrid Lauren, noted that the dance piece was influenced in part by the concept of accelerationism, the idea that techno-social rituals related to consumption have to be speeded up in order to generate radical social change, and she figures into the most captivating part of the piece when the BOD[E]SOFTWARE dancers turn collectively and respond frenetically to a pre-taped performance of hers shown on the back wall.
The performance might have not been seen at all however had Lauren not made a call to Hopkins of Art Helix after the original space slated for the showcase, the new Otion Front yoga and dance studio at 1196 Myrtle Avenue wasn’t fully equipped to accommodate the piece. Lauren, a dancer at Otion Front and one half of the dance collective Fluct, didn’t know Hopkins personally, but in the serendipity of what comes with such an interconnected neighborhood of artists, galleries and performers, was encouraged to reach out to him because she was told they had space and would be open to hosting new work.
If you happened to miss BOD[E]SOFTWARE have no fear, as Art Helix is partnering with Curating for a Cause and SHIM to host Dance 2 Dance, featuring interactive dance performances, sculpture, fine art and a dance party everybody can get in on this Saturday. If you can’t wait that long, Rebecca Warzer and Sigrid Lauren are also teachers at Otion Front teaching classes on Ignorant Gravity and Textured Improvisation respectively.