Contained and Wild Truths: Map Me by Charlotte Vanden Eynde and Kurt Vandendriessche.

To be in relationship is to be changed. And Charlotte Vanden Eynde and Kurt Vandendriessche went through many transformations during Map Me, the performance they created and performed together. At the performance I saw at DTW on September 15, they touched on experiences of merging, differentiation, tenderness, aggression, activity, stillness, seeing and being seen. A quiet, deliberate quality ran through the evening creating a contained structure within which wild truths could be explored.

Audience members walked into the theater to find two naked people lying on their sides, facing one another in stillness. Eventually the man moved to balance his body side to side on top of the woman’s. A video projector illuminated their bodies with a test screen of multi-colored rectangles like a Mondrian painting.

The geometric video images softened and deepened. They metamorphosed from views of one body part to another. The difference between video and human flesh became unclear. Video, man, and woman merged. This invited hazier views of body and connection, images of desert and caves, reflections on beginnings and endings. Slowly, the two people unfolded and stood up.

They shifted positions so that they were face to face with his back to the audience. Video images were projected onto his back. They were of her hands sculpting, massaging, penetrating clay. The experience of wanting to open someone up and get inside.

And after getting inside, there is the mess. Hand held storyboards called the next vignette “Mess Me.” The woman stood facing front while superimposed images of sock drawers opened and closed. In “Fix Me,“ the video played in rewind. A dismantled piece of wood was sawed and hammered back together while we heard grating sounds.

Subsequent vignettes moved away from video and further into the crazy depths of this partnership. In a twisted version of cat’s cradle, the two tied string from her nipples to his hands and then from his scrotum and penis to her hands. The glint of light hitting metal scissors as they eventually cut the cords.

A fusion dance ensued with masking tape entirely covering and binding their two heads together. Suffocation. The only music of the evening played. Passionate sounds while the two, stuck together, blind and unable to see, went nowhere.

Themes of developmental progression (of the earth, of a human, of a relationship) became more explicit when the two crawled to center stage and milked themselves with contraptions evoking turkey-basters. This theme continued as they began to use lipstick to draw on one another. They drew a standing person, then a baby, then a fetus. These were drawn so that one half of each drawing was on the woman and one half on the man. The images could only be known when the two connected their bodies just so.

These games and scenes were often playful and sometimes outlandish. Despite this, or probably because of this, there was a rare and tender intimacy between these two people. Performances and relationships inevitably end. At the end of this one, I left the theater a little bit changed.

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