author: Lightsey Darst
date: February 7, 2013
Ramstad’s improvisatory motion reminded me at one point of St. Sebastian, at another of the Discobolus, but I tossed these aside as probably accidental. More pertinent to the intention of the piece, I think, was Ramstad’s animal physicality—in the moment, for example, when he tasted the air like a lizard. He exhibited an edenic state, untrained, unrestrained, that brings our own muted physicality into question.
And here BodyCartography perhaps inadvertently crossed a line. Ramstad was nude save for his sneakers—hardly notable, but the people around me frosted over in reaction to it, as if his nudity constituted an assault. Did it? He was on the same ground as the audience, close up, and in motion. When he loped across the front, swinging one arm like an ape, he confronted the audience with a naked male human animal. When he walked into the audience to embrace various people, I saw stony faces all around. “What if someone had been abused?” a friend asked later. After the show, one spectator brought up the idea of continuous consent, saying that merely sitting in an audience does not imply agreement to anything that might occur. Only a few people left, so apparently Ramstad had that consent. But he was pushing its edge—which is strange, because a few years ago naked people in transformative states were standard fare in local dance. What’s changed?