A mimic copulation act
Isabella Lanz - NRC HANDELSBLAD (21 May 2005)

Stage set plays leading role in dance performance Chunking Benoît Gob totters back and forth like a pathetic clown. In Chunking he winds himself up like a doll, rolls over the floor and tells the audience lengthy stories. Tijen Lawton then appears in a black see-through circus dress. A face is embroidered on the front of her dress in glittering sequins, with the eyes positioned on her breasts. She dances gracefully and sensually. A third dancer, Julien Faure, is mainly the braggart, a sexy seducer who draws attention to himself with merry folklore steps and a beautiful torso. Two other less explicit characters (Louise Peterhoff and Maarten Seghers) form part of this burlesque club of comedians who enter the stage one by one. They display animal passions and mount one another like frogs. However they are easily brought under control like trained circus horses. However the lead role in Chunking, which the choreographer Grace Ellen Barkey created for the Belgian Needcompany, is reserved for Lot Lemm’s stage set. It comprises a forest of panels scattered hither and thither and covered with bright colours or floral designs. On a white background and set against a colourful backdrop, this stage setting defines the atmosphere of bright gaiety. However, as the proceedings reveal, this is merely a façade for far darker desires, which are mainly of a sexual nature and slightly perverse. An image inspired by Hieronymus Bosch' Garden of Earthly Delights passes before us, in which captivation and separation take place in one fluid movement. A mimic copulation act brings Bruce Nauman’s well-known neon sculpture to life. At that precise moment the lights are dimmed and we hear the thin and ominous violin sounds of Scelsi. In the final act the actors appear like crazy dolls in sparkling costumes also designed by Lemm. To the sound of experimental grunge music by Sonic Youth they demolish everything and scurry about aimlessly. Chunking is certainly entertaining – even though the tension does sag and the walking about with panels looks like padding. But it is certainly not as profound as the maker would have us believe. Chunking is a city in China. Moreover it is a psychological term for the fragmentation of memories. Neither have anything to do with the performance. The appended quotations (derived from Houellebecq, Bataille and the poet e. e. cummings) offer a depth I do not see in the play. Chunking is a playful mixture of dance theatre, performance and art, in which the attractive design helps to define the appearance of the work. The combination of frivolous hedonism and decadent anarchism appears to be related to the work of artists such as Micha Klein and Joep van Lieshout – amusing and wry at the same time. This is portrayed very well by the actors in this highly imaginative garden of delights.

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