“By staging pornography, she makes it a public issue. It may be all around us, but that is very different from being 'nobody else's business but my own'. Ingvartsen shows us that nothing could be further from the truth. ”
“One thing’s for sure: after this performance you’ll never look at sex in the same way again.”
Our Western society is dominated by a hyper-sexualised visual culture and is entirely saturated with pornography. Promotional leaflets, TV adverts, posters on the street, … all use techniques from the porno industry. Starting from this observation, Mette Ingvartsen shows a collection of erotic and affective material.
Rather than concentrating on explicit sex, she confronts us with a number of characteristics of pornography: expressions of cruelty, clinical precision, violence and pain; but sometimes pleasure, arousal and sensation too. Through the intermingling of physical actions with narrative descriptions, a speculative choreography is created that both appeals to the spectator’s imagination and brings about intense physical sensations.
From the jury report:
Theatre can be about anything and talk about anything because it is never ’real’. Theatre evokes love and murder without people making love on stage or killing each other. Similarly, theatre can also raise the subject of pornography. These days porn is everywhere: what used to be unthinkable is now everyday fare. And so pornography says something about the views of society, even if they are sometimes hidden under a thick layer of propriety or self-censorship. At the same time, porn is rarely the subject of serious discussion or in-depth study, which is exactly what makes Mette Ingvartsen’s The Red Pieces, and in particular her 21 pornographies so extraordinary. In the latter, Ingvartsen provides a bird’s eye view of the history of pornography, beginning with stories by the Marquis de Sade. With him it is just words. You have to imagine the images yourself, though Ingvartsen gives you a helping hand. She shows how the connection between power and sex was being explained and explored back in the eighteenth century. After that she takes a giant leap to Denmark in the 1970s, when sex went hand in hand with liberation. But even then power and violence helped sell porn. The closer we come to our own time, the more brazenly porn takes advantage of our instincts to market itself. In a third movement, pornography converges with acts of war. In the final scene Ingvartsen spins round naked with a hood over her head and her arms held high. The image refers unequivocally to the acts of torture carried out in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Here Ingvartsen mercilessly penetrates to the perverse core of pornography: the promise of gratification, despite everything. The audience looks on with increasing amazement and discomfort as Ingvartsen shows coolly and precisely, but never fully demonstrates, what goes on in porn land. And we see how that same land has long ceased to be a hidden enclave and is now part of our daily reality. By staging pornography, she makes it a public issue. It may be all around us, but that is very different from being ‘nobody else’s business but my own’. Ingvartsen shows us that nothing could be further from the truth.