12-13.10 2016 PAO festival

PAO festival 2016 Oslo 


bPerformance «IMPRINT – Clubs Daggers Cutlasses” by Agnes Btffn, is  based on the writer Torild Wardenær’s poem «Clubs Daggers Cutlasses»

The silence grows + in framed (time) space. On the floor lie two toys, a pistol and a sword. A rag and printing ink. White lilies packed in orange silk paper.  A printing roll and two tubes with printing ink on a table. A print of a multimedia performance. A video is projected on a screen and the sound of a poem «Club daggers cutlasses» fills the room. The gaze is not attracted to one point, but the focus constantly shifts between the live performance and the documented performance projected on screen. The film and the poem contrasts with the performance.

As a live sculpture, Agnes Btffn enters the space. She takes off her shoes. With only a piece of fabric around her body, she gives the impression of being a torso from where she stands. Bare shoulders. Bare feet. Slowly, solemnly nearly, she lays the lilies down on the floor. hesitates a little. Then she spreads the ink directly on the table, works with it, smooths it, dries off the spatula. A printer in deep concentration. Fat, black stripes, then the red is rolled on, Hemoglobin red. The color sucks the attention. On the screen the lilies tremble in the breeze. Like in a reminiscence. Beautiful, white petals – for life’s great moments. Sissors cut their way in.] Agnes Btffn dips a cloth in black. Meditatively, slowly, nearly ritually. With a soldier’s precision, and with great attention the plastic pistol is greased with a night black darkness. On the screen, the act is repeated on and on. Completing. A close up of a shimmering silvery weapon. Rhythmic, far and close, from far away the words: CLUBS DAGGERS CUTLASSES PICKAXES REVOLVER… chattering hearts. Neck shots. Bleeds. Bleeds to death. Film is slow. Clear and blurred pictures hold the attention.  The hands illuminated. Hands. Which can both smash and caress.

CANNONS LANCES RIFLES… Unbearable pains. Arteries torned. Structural violence. Blind violence. Enemy. Friend.

Agnes Btffn dries her hands. Lays down the weapon. Smears her feet red. Tramples the toy so it cracks. The poem can be heard clearly, and later like a faint echo. Glottis, leather skin, lymph nodes… On the screen the white names of body parts on black. Graphical polarity. Agnes Btffn standstill.

The voice of Torild Wardenær carries on enumerating body parts well articulated; the soft and the hard parts, the replaceable and the irreplaceable, the ones which give us life. Jugular arteries, cranial cavity, Merkel’s disc… Rhythmic and slow the terms are read loudly. Names of organs you even did not know you had. Silence between each word. The words cuts the body in peaces, intersects and reduce it into an object; pupil, wisdom teeth, lachrymal, ball joint, rib cartilage… the wounds which never grows. Agnes Btffn stands completely stills. MUSTARD GAS is shouted ! A man’s voice with French accent. Black metallic fear. Burning wounds. HYDROGEN BOMBS… Extermination. Radioactive radiations. The artist unpacks gently the lilies. CLUBS…Splinters. The scar in the soul. CLUSTER BOMBS… Mutilation.

Shouting. Agnes Btffn rolls red print ink on her chest. Takes the weapon (not the child) – to her breast. From a screen of skin the red print lights against us.

In the film, she has now pressed her whole body on the weapon. You see the print on her stomach: black weapon, red image. Pulsating skin. She raises slowly, after lying down, but can now stand up straight. On the battlefield, at war, in the conflict, which the victims can never again do again. Killed or wounded. Soldier or victim; «They rise in shame». The film ends. Here in the room the action still runs for awhile. Agnes Btffn presses the pistol upon a paper sheet. The image, the red print, is laid down visible. The pistol is put down. On the back of it, a crumpled sheet of silk paper. The artwork ends.

The scenography is plain and the action short. The movements are slow and few. Still it is insistent – , ongoing. The imprint remains. Sits in you now. On your retina. You realize how sensitive your body is. And you are reminded how vulnerable humanity is… when confronted with its own weapons products of its own creativity: The cold, cool, mechanical, blind, automatic, technical, surgical, precise. There is always a reason for war, but it is dirty anyway. Violence is always traumatic and creates always victims – you think.

«IMPRINT – Clubs Daggers Cutlasses» is  aesthetic and moral ethical, nearly ceremonial, where the red thread is the intimate contact between body and weapon. It is both a visual action and a visual track – and is full of contrast. Visual action and visual track. The crack between soft and hard. Cold steel. Warm skin. Fragile body against hard metal. Physical presence, cool distance. Peace and innocence. War, emergency, poetry, pain, hope and seriousness. A lot of seriousness. The horror and the beautiful. Which side do you choose ? Which side do you choose in this world ?

Hildegunn Guddal Svensson