Angela Schubot and Jared Gradinger – preview photo of “is maybe” (2011), performance; photo © Florian Braun
The physicality of Jared Gradinger and Angela Schubot‘s performances makes you squirm. The intense panting, flopping, slapping, and movements not even thought controllable or possible, ebb and flow. The duo’s performance at Hebbel am Ufer, is maybe, began almost as scenes of a domestic dispute in slow motion, with sluggish punches and shoves in the fashion of capoeira.
is maybe is the second performance that Gradinger and Schubot made after their success with What they are instead of in 2009, a work based in the rhythm of coordinated heavy breathing and the corporeality of two bodies performing together. The performance debuted in 2011 at Hebbel am Ufer, and was presented last Thursday as a part of the pair’s retrospective festival that ran from Tuesday to Sunday.
During the 55 minutes that we watched Schubot and Gradinger on the slowly rotating stage, they smeared and smacked each other’s faces with the palms of their hands, stumbling around the performance area. Each series of movements slowly transitioned to the next, at times aggressive and other times tender. They embraced asymmetrically, with Schubot’s limp foot hanging in the air while the other sat below her on the ground under Gradinger’s leg. They wrestled and rolled, convulsing heavily at times, and slowly swimming through the air at others.
Angela Schubot and Jared Gradinger – “is maybe” (2011), performance; photo © Winnie Mahrin
Though it’s possible to describe specific movements of the performance, the overall effect was one that constantly intrigued, surprised, and at times disgusted viewers. Whether it was Schubot leading Gradinger around with her fist in his mouth like a leash, or the two hyperventilating directly into each other’s mouths, the movements were so dynamic, absurd, and intertwined. The performance could not have affected the audience so much with only one of the artists.
This togetherness, both emotionally and physically, with the scope and concept of identity in mind, is part of the pair’s research into “de-bordering” the body. The physically exhausting process of their performance is incredible, and the audience is constantly amazed at movements not thought possible or replicable. Complementing these thoughts of the body as a shell for our conscious are the works by street artist Mark Jenkins, whose 3D mutant figures, scattered and hanging around the stage, function as parallel conglomerations of body parts.
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More information about Hebbel am Ufer and its events:
Blog entry by AJ Kiyoizumi in Berlin; Tuesday, May 6, 2014.