Super Human Nature

Source: MN Daily
Author: Tony Wagner
Date: May 30, 2012

The BodyCartography project wants to experiment on you at the Walker this weekend.

Olive Bieringa and Otto Ramstad want you to do something pretty strange this weekend. You’ll walk into an empty gallery at the Walker Art Center, where one of them will be waiting. As you move, the lights and sound will change. You and the performer won’t speak to each other, but you will interact for 10 minutes. How?

Bieringa and Ramstad aren’t telling.

“It’s really up to the person that comes in how they want to engage,” Bieringa said. “I don’t want to limit people’s experience by suggesting what might happen.”

Bieringa and Ramstad are performance artists that make up the BodyCartography Project. The installation is an experiment that will help inform choreography for “Super Nature,” a show the couple has been working on for the past year. Last fall, they tested out some parts of “Super Nature” during shows at the Bryant-Lake Bowl

“I imagine that people will feel more implicated and more seen as the one audience member in this situation than they would sitting in the dark, watching the stage,” Ramstad said. “When it’s just one on one you can really see how people are receiving what you’re doing.”

In this way, Ramstad, Bieringa and the other performers will take their experiences from the one-on-one sessions and use them to try to create choreography that will affect audience members from afar when “Super Nature” premiers at the Walker in October.

The BodyCartography Project has done installations like this before. Bieringa recounted a series of experiments she did about a year and a half ago, while eight months pregnant.

“My range of experiences with different people was really diverse,” she said. “Some people danced with me. Other people just stood there and cried. Other people were really nervous. Other people didn’t see me for a long time and then were surprised.”

These strong emotional responses are integral to “Super Nature,” as the piece is focused on the interplay between the social norms and emotional instincts and how that relationship fits into human nature.

“It’s like, how do you fully live what you’re experiencing inside yourself if you remove some of your social censoring?” Bieringa said. “That would be melodramatic, because internally that’s what it feels like.”

Ramstad said that the films of Guy Maddin  influenced them. Maddin uses the over-the-top movement found in silent films to show characters acting out their inner feelings and raw impulses.

Bieringa and Ramstad said they hope that participants in the installation will be comfortable enough to expose themselves in this way — and “make their nature more super.”

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