Image: (c) Werner Herzog Films
By Erna Ómarsdóttir (Iceland) and Damien Jalet (Belgium)
Melbourne International Arts Festival
20 - 24 October 2009
The CUB Malthouse, Merlyn Theatr
"The collapse of the stellar universe will occur - like creation - in grandiose splendour" from Werner Herzog's Film Lessons of Darkness
Digging in a fertile ground of creation, eschatological myths and scientific facts, Black Marrow interrogates our profound relationship with our planet and the potential heritage of a civilisation seeming to have lost its roots.
Direction and Choreography Erna Ómarsdóttir and Damien Jalet
Set and Costume Designer Alexandra Mein
Lighting Designer Niklas Pajanti
Original Music and Sound Design Ben Frost featuring Oren Ambarchi
Sound Designer/Operator: Byron Scullin
Design Assistant: Michelle Boyde
Stage Manager: Melanie Stanton
Duration: 60 mins
A NOTE FROM ERNA ÓMARSDÓTTIR AND DAMIEN JALET
We have always been fascinated by what influences and succeeds civilisation: the wild, the primal, the untamed, the unbaked or the mutated?
With the opportunity to create two projects in the same year, with the same composer, in two extreme parts of the world, we immediately thought of creating some sort of thread between those two poles. Iceland and Australia are both islands with a wild and uninhabited centre, filled with pagan mythologies. While one is an extremely wet place on earth the other is amazingly dry. One is a fresh country still in the making, the other one of the oldest places on earth.
In Iceland we created a piece in the famous Blue Lagoon, where audience and dancers were immersed in hot sky-blue water in the middle of a vast black lava field. This work dealt with the theme of origins; of water as the cradle of life and the vital element in all forms of life. So in taking the north as the origin, coming here to Australia brings us to the end.
Many generations have thought they would be the ones to witness the end of the world. Ours is no exception. It has only been a few decades since humans developed the technology to destroy the planet… in less time than it takes to describe it. Even without going to that extreme scenario, science seems daily to bring us new and concrete facts demonstrating the world is at the edge of radical changes. By continuously and extensively extracting all the resources of our soils, in digging deeper and deeper in the ground, are we actually digging our own grave?
In the Middle Ages when work began on a cathedral, people knew it would take five hundred years to create - and only their very far descendants would admire the finished building. What investments do we make today for future generations?
Rituals have always been a part of our profound relationship to the ground we are from. Our ancestors praised the gods of nature and gave them homage. With the development of science and technology it seems that we have found a way to tame nature. But as the rituals disappear, it appears that many of us may have forgotten our origins.
In this work we are trying to create a kind of contemporary ritual. The themes may seem gloomy, but our goal with the performers, Alexandra Mein and Ben Frost was to answer this darkness with a primal, visceral energy, the life force of the survivor.
Working with rhythm, repetition and exhaustion, we try to connect to the energy of an archaic trance, in order to transform ourselves and mutate into animals, machines or pagan gods. Every ritual has a function: trance often has a healing one. The purpose of Black Marrow is neither to change the world nor to moralise about what we’re doing to it. For the space of a performance, we attempt to create a personal mythology and change what is commonly judged as ugly into something aesthetic. To create an oneiric world that operates like a deformed mirror - like a dark dream - in order to see ourselves better in this one.
We are honoured by Gideon Obarzanek’s invitation to collaborate with Chunky Move and with this amazing cast of performers. Working and creating here with artists of such physical and creative talents has been an incredibly inspiring experience and a big step forward in our work. This piece would be a very different one with another cast and creative team.