veal, post-human, harrison atelier, seth harrison, ariance lourie harrison, invisible dog, riener
Harrison Atelier, the New York-based design collective founded by Seth Harrison and Ariane Lourie Harrison, presented VEAL, a multi-disciplinary, evening-length installation and performance arrangement, at Brooklyn's The Invisible Dog on February 9th. The bone-chilling cold of this Saturday evening set the perfect scene for VEAL,the second collaboration between Harrison Atelier and dancer/choreographer Silas Riener, which addresses concern for the victory of human over animal in a five-part interpretation of the process of mass-producing food. Harrison Atelier regularly explores the relationship between technology and culture. VEAL emphasizes the increasingly blurry distinction between the creator and the created.
For this production The Invisible Dog was converted into a stark, lifeless world in which the audience milled about, naïve and inquisitive, as performers in black, rubber aprons and gloves tapped away on computers and adjusted industrial-sized instruments that were partially sculptural, sterile, and utilitarian. Conductor Joshua Kohl stepped out and onto a platform overlooking the pit of audience members and held up a black piece of paper. Somber ushers, gesturing without words, herded half of the audience into an adjacent room.
The room was dimly lit by neon lights that had been installed for the performance. Beneath them were three dancers with hands tucked over their chests and wearing costumes made of translucent, yellowish rubber. The dance progressed from running to an improvised score of simultaneous solos, all of which were connected in theme but not in a fashion that was human. This, in combination with the unnatural lighting and costumes that grew to appear increasingly uncomfortable as they resisted sweat and slapped against the dancers' skin, developed a nihilistic scene in which the dancers were clearly motivated by a similar idea, yet their movements never synced, never cooperated. They intentionally noticed the audience that assembled around the perimeter of the performance space more than they noticed one another. Like watching a caged animal, the movement was frantic, disjointed, and desperate, but the dancers did not appear to know or seek an alternative. Finally the dance concluded with Riener dangling upside down from two pieces of plastic hanging from the ceiling.
VEAL is not easily categorized or described; it is an experience. The fusion of sculpture, opera, dance, and live music is methodical, yet there are moments, particularly in the dancing, that have been highly constructed but ultimately left to chance, elucidating the "posthuman" concept that Harrison Atelier continues to so thoroughly investigate. No matter the level of organization, method, and planning--there will always be a part of the creation that the creator cannot control.
Photography by Ben Nicholas
Kayt MacMaster is a NYC based dancer, choreographer, dance writer, and co-founder and artistic director of a newly conceived performance company, blueprint dance project. MacMaster earned a BFA in Dance and a Minor in Writing and Rhetoric from Oakland University in her home state of Michigan. As an educator and movement researcher, she has spent time in Ghana, West Africa and presented research at the 2012 National Dance Education Organization conference in Los Angeles. Kayt MacMaster is a registered yoga instructor, folk music disciple, and film enthusiast. She is currently working with Jeremy Xido on his documentary film, Death Metal Angola. |