Escapes and Reversals is a performance for five dancers, inspired by visualization technologies, surveillance practices and physical defense maneuvers. Because human-machine interfaces are designed to conceal the many thresholds across which “translation” happens, most users don’t understand how they work. This makes technology a place where power can hide. I’m interested in power differentials across technological divides: the way denial on one side provokes hysteria on the other, or one party’s invisibility seems to “produce” exposure of the other. Escapes and Reversals revels in the heroic efforts ordinary people make, each day, just to keep going, and considers exertion by weighted, visible bodies, relative to public relations maneuvers designed to hide wars and promote air brushed, laughing lives of consumer ease.
The project is being realized with performers Elise Cowin, Maddie Kodat, Naoki Nakatani, Zach Nicol, and Harlan Rosen.
Bodies endear themselves to me for the daily ways they interrupt productivity and hierarchies of status: the sound of soft snoring during a recital, the slide of a sore foot slowing travel down to a more humane rate… I like to imagine that at one time, even wars had to pause at regular intervals because bodies on both sides needed to sleep. These kinds of physical needs, routinely cast as low status by our brutally high speed, production-oriented society, remind me of other, compassionate, priorities. In the face of progress, productivity, profit, and speed I want to remember the fragility of bodies.
The questions that drive my practice are socio-political, economic, and philosophical. I explore how a form, like competition for example, shifts across a spectrum of contexts and impacts bodies, from sports to economics, self-help, fascism and Instagram. Often the impact of some oppressive force is felt – through obedience, rebellions (small and large), stuttering interruptions of confidence, and other odd but ingenious survival strategies. From this research I make densely layered, abstract performances that update the formalism of the 70s and 80s and complicate it with the messiness of power and desire.
I draw from vernacular movement that ordinary people can relate to. I address life-or-death subject matter, but it usually comes out funny and sad. The performers spend a lot of time “getting it together”: preparing, avoiding, managing, and defying… They push themselves to the limit but don’t make a fuss about it. The effort to say something is as important as the thing being said. In this way “Escapes and Reversals” will celebrate the revolutionary power of human beings trying, together. I’m awed by the colossal efforts of human beings to speak back to systems of power, to become alive for ourselves and fully conscious.
Ginger Krebs has presented performances in the Chicago area recently at the Pivot Arts Festival, Northwestern University, The Arts Club of Chicago, Hyde Park Art Center, and the Museum of Contemporary Art. She was awarded a Creative Capital MAP Fund grant in 2015, and the performance supported by that grant earned a four-star review and was chosen for the Best Dance of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune. Krebs is an Adjunct Associate Professor in Performance and Contemporary Practices at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.