MDLSX by MOTUS
March 16, 2017
Interdisciplinary entity MOTUS was founded by Enrico Casagrande and Daniela Nicolò and over the last twenty-five years has established itself firmly on the firmament of performance arts with boundary pushing productions, theatre shows, installations, seminars and workshops focusing on the contradictions of this brave new world, wielding impact that registers on both the physical and emotional Richter scales.
Sounds and proves to be a great match for Carriageworks, the large contemporary multi-arts centre in Sydney with its reputation for taking risks and showing unrelenting support when it comes to the artists they host and its immersive programs reflecting social and cultural diversity.
MDLSX is based on Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel Middlesex and the first solo performance of Silvia Calderoni, who carries the hymn to the freedom of becoming and androgyny on her shoulders and sustains it through eighty minutes.
Utilizing the artistic device of blurring reality and fiction by incorporating footage from her own family gatherings and seemingly personal monologues into the performance, it is perfectly accentuated and blended with a carefully selected soundtrack comprised of music by The Smiths, R.E.M., Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dresden Dolls, Rodriguez et al.
Calderoni presents the story in Italian, which is translated into English via subtitles. While this can be irritating with some performances, it works well with MDLSX as it is a very physical performance with Calderoni using her own body to tell the story and physically exercises the journey the main protagonist goes through.
With this performance the subtitles also help to amplify an effect that performances in the native tongue of the audience would normally not have: While the audience is following the thread of the story via subtitles, the performer has the opportunity to watch the audience, which becomes apparent when performance space is illuminated for brief moments.
The performance maintains a physically intense and experimental level throughout, relying on Calderoni’s charisma, agility, velocity and restless energy – there is hardly a moment when there is no physical element and it is a spectacle to behold as he/she dances, simultaneously operating numerous camera devices and DJing at the same time.
A singular performer consisting of multitudes, both literally and figuratively.
While at first glance MDLSX might have a very specific focus, the performance raises deeper questions outside the confines of LBGT related issues as far as labeling and the quest for identify is concerned and how it depends on societal, imposed norms and conventions the individual is forced to adhere to rather than choice: The struggle of existence transgressing borders of body, skin, colour, sex, et cetera, which is reflected in the performance’s electrical tension, which is again accentuated by MOTUS’ light and video installations, courtesy of Alessio Spirli, including black light, a laser simulating a surgical procedure in the neither regions and spacey triangular fabric that serves a variety of purposes throughout the performance, which results in quite a trippy, lysergic experience at times.
The switch in perspective towards the end of the performance – no spoilers here – enhances the mindfuck even further and challenging the audience.
A transgressive performance that defies division both in terms of presentation as well as content.
Photo from Carriageworks website