Critic 1

**Performance // ‘Now and Then’ at Tanzfabrik **

Article by Louisa Stark in Berlin // Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018

From the moment the audience enters the studio space at Tanzfabrik** **for the performance ‘Now and Then,’ they are made acutely aware of time. Two performers, Christina Ciupke and Jasna L. Vinovrski, dressed in boiler suits meditatively lay sheets of blank A4 office paper to form a huge rectangle on the ground; they are in the painstaking process of setting the stage for a performance that already began half an hour before. The piece is part of Tanzfabrik’s Open Spaces #1-2018 program and marks the first collaboration between Ciupke and Vinovrski. It addresses temporal perceptions through subtly referencing the period when independent dance originated, as well as their own choreographic histories.

As the partial paper rectangle gradually becomes completed, a recording of the performers voices describing a photograph is played over their durational movement. They give an overview of a group scene, before focusing in on details of individuals’ costumes and the materiality of the photograph itself. In their attempt to pinpoint the image’s place in time, a wider notion of history is introduced into the space that opens it up to different temporalities, both past and present. In this way the performance effectively evokes traditional spoken and written methods of imparting histories, which are then complicated by the presence of the body.

Once the recording has ended Ciupke and Vinovrski begin to move upon and, inevitably, disrupt the paper stage in the process of passing a large, crumpled sheet of paper between them. Holding it above their heads and allowing it to fold slowly and mesmerizingly of its own accord, the paper becomes a dancer and the performers simply the facilitators of its movement. It is both a vessel for the image of time, an intermittent projection of a clock face, and a blank space upon which the audience can project their own associations; in the moment the paper touches the sides of the studio, it becomes the collectively imagined photograph that we have been told once hung upon a wall.

Towards the end of the performance the dancers finally shift from working with time as an object to physically embodying it. This is signalled by a costume change into white fencing outfits and the placement of long paper rolls on their arms as a surreal extension of the body, in the lineage of Rebecca Horn. Lying on the ground and rotating their arms, they appear to be a three-dimensional version of the clock hands from the earlier projected image. These props are then used to perform the robotic, repetitive gesture of moving leftover stacks of paper between them to no clear purpose; a movement that leaves room for both abstract and specific references to the machine, and the emergence of the role of the clerk in the early 20th century – and circularly links back to the bureaucratic A4 sheets from the beginning of the performance.

This sustained use of blank paper throughout ‘Now and Then’ serves not only as an enjoyably minimal aesthetic but, paradoxically, allows space for increasingly rich and diverse associations to be made. Ciupke and Vinovrski’s stated interest in “gaps and missing information in the historical context” is therefore key to the performance; it reveals history as an imperfect narrative that, like the paper stage so carefully made, can be quickly and chaotically undone.

Critic 2

**Szene mit Papier **

„Now and Then“ von Christina Ciupke und Jasna L. Vinovrski in der Tanzfabrik Berlin

Veröffentlicht am 25.02.2018, von Hartmut Regitz

Berlin - 840 weiße Blätter im Din A4-Format. Soviel sind es am Ende, von Christina Ciupke und Jasna L. Vinovrsky als Rechteck ausgelegt. Das dauert natürlich seine Zeit, obwohl die beiden Performerinnen mit ihrer Arbeit schon vor Beginn der Vorstellung begonnen haben. Minutenlang schaut man zu, wie die beiden nach und nach den Boden mit Papier bedecken. Mehr Aktion ist nicht. Keine Musik. Nur die Blätter lassen sich bisweilen hören – und nach gut zehn Minuten zwei Frauenstimmen, die offenbar auf Englisch ein historisches Foto beschreiben, auf dem ein paar nackte, aber auch einige bekleidete Menschen zu sehen sind.

Die Szene mit dem Papier entstammt offenbar einer früheren Arbeit der kroatischen Tänzerin, wie auch die projizierte Uhr wenig später, die in den „Zeiträndern” von Christina Ciupke bereits eine Rolle spielte: beides Querverweise auf das Einst und Jetzt, das die beiden in „Now and Then“ auf bildhafte, wenn auch manchmal etwas asketische Weise thematisieren. Denn es bleibt bei dem Beitrag für das „Open Spaces # 1“-Festival der Tanzfabrik berlin nicht bei einem performativen „Boden-Belag“.

Vielmehr spielen Christina Ciupke und Jasna L. Vinovrski eine Zeitlang mit wechselnden Lichtstimmungen und einer flexiblen Projektionsfläche, bevor sie sich selber verwandeln: Statt schwarzen Hosenanzügen tragen beide in der zweiten Hälfte des Stückes weiße Fechtkleidung und greifen, solchermaßen ausgerüstet, zu meterlangen Papierrohren, die bis dahin unbeachtet auf den Seiten des White Cube liegen.

„Schwarz weiß zeigen“ könnte das Stück ab dieser Stelle auch heißen, ein Titel, den Gerhard Bohner 1983 seinen „Übungen für einen Choreografen“ gegeben hat. So wie er damals auf die Bauhaus-Bühne verwies, die immer mehr in den Fokus seiner Arbeit rückte und in der Rekonstruktion des „Triadischen Balletts“ gipfelte, könnte auch Christina Ciupke ihre langjährige Beschäftigung mit den Bildenden Künsten ins Feld führen. Tatsächlich wirkt die Choreografie hier wie die Fortsetzung der Ideen Oskar Schlemmers mit anderen Mitteln, wenn die beiden Performerinnen mit ihren verlängerten Papparmen immer wieder roboterhaft ein Blatt Papier nach dem anderen tauschen.

Das sieht nicht nur spannend aus. Das hat am Ende auch etwas Erhellendes, auch wenn sich die Szene nach und nach eindunkelt. Der Rest ist Stille. Und die Erinnerung an ein ungemein konzentriertes Stück Bewegung, dem man noch viele Vorstellungen wünscht.

Program text by Irina Müller

_“The mechanism of communication is activated when we look at an empty vessel, not as a negative state, but in terms of its capability to be filled with something.” _

Kenya Hara

For their first collaboration, Christina Ciupke and Jasna Vinovrški dive into the time around the turn of the century: they turn page after page in the history books, fascinated by the developments in each discipline of the arts and culture. The development of independent dance, however, remains mostly without mention. Material can be found in the biographies of such pioneers of independent dance as Mary Wigman, Rudolf von Laban and Isadora Duncan, who in turn establish complex connections to the developments of their time from their own point of view. Nevertheless, gaps, empty spaces, blank pages remain.

These trigger both Jasna’s and Christina’s hunger for further research as well as their fantasy. They speculate about the atmosphere, the Zeitgeist, they draw connections, follow traces through the biographies, pose questions along the margins of historiography, enter into a dialogue with their predecessors from 100 years ago, a time full of departure, innovation and upheaval in all aspects of daily life.

What would the artists from that time have thought about their work from today? Would they claim to recognise their influence? What did precarious artistic living conditions mean then, what do they mean now? In what sense do both epochs resemble each other? What do reduction and immediacy mean, both then and now? Are there parallel tendencies to a return back to nature? Which innovations, both now and then, define the rhythm of life and with it notions of time and space? How is time perceived and how can that be mapped out on stage?

They are fascinated by the fact that both now and then a general sense of speed and acceleration shapes people’s sense of life. During the second half of the 19th century the railway net is being expanded throughout Europe. Travel times are getting shorter, places seemingly move closer together. The new technologies made possible by industrialisation enable constructions of towers that represent the Zeitgeist. The Eiffel Tour built 1889 for the World Fair is becoming a sensation. But especially in physics in a short period of time several new concepts are developed among them one that turns the concept of independent time and space as formulated in Euklidian Geometry around: 1905 Einstein is publishing his special theory of relativity introducing the concept of Spacetime.

Today mainly the development of information technology, artificial intelligence and virtual reality shape our perception of time and space. Technology is not only since the internet of things an independent agent in a society of humans and machines. In the philosophy of New Materialism the material world is described as a co-producer, a “participant” of social practice. Within this space of references, time becomes a further element of this collaboration. With and through time they reflect on their own artistic practice.

The white paper in this piece originated in earlier works: not only are they looking 100 years back, they are also looking into their own past and giving it a new life by placing it into a dialogue on stage.

**The scene with the A4 paper comes from Jasna’s work Catch 22 (2007), and the clock scene is a reference to Christina’s work Zeitränder (2000). **