Dancing with the Ramstad twins

Dancing with the Ramstad twins

By November 19, 2010Press, Press for Symptom

Source: Star Tribune
Author: Caroline Palmer
Date: November 12, 2010

Twins never fail to stir curiosity. Who was born first? Do they share a secret language? Do  they have a visceral link, even when apart? The BodyCartography Project’s “Symptom”  plays upon this fascination by adding layers of personal mythology, cultural influence and  scientific speculation to the relationship between dancer Otto Ramstad and his twin, visual  artist Emmett Ramstad. The work, co-created with Olive Bieringa, mesmerizes and  mystifies amid rich tension between individuality and duality.

The audience first encounters “Symptom” through a roadmap-sized program neatly folded  on each chair. Squiggly lines on one side reference patterns created by the microphone  cords that play a key role in the show. The other side is filled with writings by Aren Aizura  offering origin stories about the Ramstads that willfully blur truth and fiction while also  musing on the work’s inspirations (namely, conceptual artists Bruce Nauman and Dan Graham). It’s rare that a program adds such critical dimension.

The identically dressed siblings enter the white-paper-covered space as subjects whose  similarities and differences can be observed with objective detachment. They move  tentatively but the early awkwardness eventually smooths out. They quietly examine each  other’s hands and form symmetrical sculpted shapes with their bodies — palm to palm, hip  to hip. The harmony dissipates, however, when each grabs a microphone to narrate the  scene. There’s a hint of competitiveness and they soon release pent-up energy using the  cords, slapping them against the floor to create undulating sine waves with a coordinated beauty and violence.

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