Recensioner / Reviews

Written by: Sebastian Johans 

Published in: Uppsala Nya Tidning, 2010-06-11 

Original title: Följsamma Friktioner 

Translation from swedish:© SU-EN Butoh Company

Soft Frictions 

Weeping, milk bath and various Maria figures opened the performance art festival Friction. Like before, the curator herself, SU-EN, was in the center of the suggestive drama, according to Sebastian Johans. 

A voice of lamentation, two voices of lamentation and three and even more. A line of chanting weepers is what first meets the about a hundred visitors that enters Uppsala Cathedral and the opening of the third international performance art festival Friction. 

The sound from the black clothed lamentators, which are irregularly placed around the church benches, is spread like a chnating sound collage around the space and with different intensity follows the spectators who move around in the big hall. 

In the center of the cathedral the dancer and festival general SU-EN stands in a vessel filled with milk. She is dressed like a bride, covered in white make-up and from her hands white drops are slowly dripping down into the vessel. At her feet two assistants are offering milk to those spectators who dare to taste. SU-EN´s Mary figure is of course the life-giving and the one who offers her body and gives. 

A bit further ahead, by the high altar, as a contrast, Indian Rakini Devi sits in a Pietá-pose. She is dressed in black and indicates through make-up and costuming more a goddess of revenge than of the fragile mourner that we usually meet in the motif of Mary and her dead sons body, just taken down from the cross.

SU-EN and Rakini Devi´s Mary figures are both frozen and in a paradoxal way this gives life into the performance’ third Mary: Anders Widoff´s wax sculpture, permanently placed in the cathedrals chancel round. The overall impression is bewitching and breakes down the experience into smaller units and in the end only a core remains in which the spectator is totally responsible for his/her own impression.

Friction is a festival that follows SU-EN´s personal interest and circle of acquaintances, and consequently most of what is offered has a touch of eastern contemplative tradition, rather than explosive happenings and others that we may expect from the performance scene in general. One can with some accurance question why a curator puts herself in the centre of her presentation, but as an arena for the art definition that SU-EN represents, and maybe also as a kind of illustration of how one should view the butoh that is her main artistic body, Friction is dififcult  to exceed. 

The focus upon Mary is of course about motherhood and in one way makes an interpretation of christianity in an almost medieval way (when the Mary cult was blooming), and in another way moves on to a broader discussion of how the role of the woman in history has been written. One could maybe say that the performance gives an image of distinctive character with biological references, but that is fortunately not a conclusion necessary to make. 

In spite of a  – surprisingly – lack of friction, the opening of the performance festival created a clear sense of here and now. 

Sebastian Johans


Written by: Cristina Karlstam

Published in: Uppsala Nya Tidning, 2010-06-14 

Original title: Konstfest på hög nivå i Uppsala 

Translation from swedish:© SU-EN Butoh Company


Art Fest on High Level in Uppsala

The performance art festival in Uppsala was an artistic triumph, Cristina Karlstam writes.

The performance with a huge stone hanging a couple of centimeters over artist Boris Nieslony´s head could not take place. The famous piece didn´t get the authorities permission in the cautious Sweden. Instead the Saturday strollers on Celsiuspromenaden got to see Nieslony´s Sisyfos work performed by using his body moving nine big stones, each of them 15 kilos, along the pedestrian street. 

The artist balanced these – metaphores for the burden and pain of life, using his head, neck, chest, arms and back, rolling on the pavement, jumping over the other stones or crawling with the weight of the stone on the neck, until he ran out of strenght and the impressive perfomance ended with having the nine stones placed like a barrier across the street.

The international perfomance festival that ended on Sunday got to be an art festivity with a series of highlights. The friendly performance on  Saturday morning in one of the shopping windows towards a pedestrian street offered a quiet preparing of food (Mature Woman by Vlasta Delimar, Croatia), while a dramatic bodily installation about pains and losses of life were held at Västgötaspången (Gravity Eight by Hiroko Tsuchimoto, Japan). Video showings at Uppsala´s newest artgallery Konsthuset, artist talks there and at the Art Museum was also on  the festival program.

The Art Museum was also the place for one of the festival´s top events, artist Jason Lim´s perfomance Duet with Honey, that took place at Saturday evening. In Venice 2007 Jason Lim answered for one of the biennale´s most memorable contributions with his crashed venetian chandelier at Singapore´s exhibition in one of Venice´s splendid palaces. 

In Uppsala Lim performed his work in great concentration and in deep silence and sincerity. Like floating over the floor, sitting on a chair placed upon glasses turned upside down, the artist slowly let himself be drenched by dripping honey pooring down like melted gold over his face and body. The work became a living formation of sustainability in time and space, inwards listening and serenity; a performance in praise of the slow and quiet. Lim´s co-actor in this magical duet was a small snail, that slowly moved himself and his house over the artist´s hands and body while the golden honey continued to pour down from the ceiling.

The performance art with its close relationship to other art formssuch as dance, theatre and sculpture, had with this festival a great public penetration in Uppsala. Many were the visitors who came to see how the artists with their bodies as material created moving, living sculptures here and now.

Artistic director was butohartist SU-EN in collaboration with Uppsala Art Museum. On Sunday morning she carried out together with Jason Lim the later´s performance Red String at Lycksalighetens Ö (Island of Bliss) in the citypark. It became a quiet, aesthetic investigation of the inevitable way of time and of mutual relationship of bodies, performed by two artists of importance in a sensitive collaboration. 

Cristina Karlstam



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