Photo by Nisa Ojalvo
Infamous for stuffing herself into mundane objects, Sandrine Schaefer performed at Mobius last Saturday (Jan 30). Consisting of eight cycles over the course of eight hours, the piece was entitled Pace investigations no.2. I was present for three cycles over the course of an hour. I would not glance at the literature until after leaving, “An exercise that exposes the vulnerability of the human body, an exercise designed to fail.” Each cycle consisted of the same actions, the duration was divided in half each time. Upon arriving Sandrine was briefly harassed by a group of children. “That’s not art.” one of the kids was saying. She stood still in the middle of the small square space staring intensely above the door. The audience members did not want confrontation with the children, only strong stares and the sharp closing of doors. “She looks possessed.” another said. “She looks tired.” I replied.
The prolonged staring was followed by a series of micromovements; elements of fire and water, and what looked like a really good stretch. Six candles and a white lighter, pasty blue walls, prolonged facial animations, a change of clothes, a space heater, marble. Am I missing something? This may be boring, but it’s not entirely lazy either. Without a doubt it is deliberate and considered. There lies a lot of respect in Sandrine’s level of commitment. We all shift when she shifts, we are in tune. Otherwise we must not move, we must not disturb the silence. So serious, Sandrine begins to laugh. I am uncomfortable, I do not laugh.
Context is important when viewing this piece especially. The excerpt provided was vague and broad, the explanation could have been clearer. It requires work to enter the right mindset, otherwise one is left feeling robbed of any actual meaning. With little activity, I find myself looking inward. I am more conscious of myself and my environment. I begin to think on a different level, feel, in a different way. Its some serious power to be able to convince people that what you are doing is relevant. To get away with the most minimal amount of actions possible. To gain people’s attention, and to keep it. Art is a strange game. Sandrine is playing the game, and she’s playing to win, and that’s the only way to play.