Friday, 3 April 2009

Slideshow in Berlin, April 2


THIS TEXT OFFERS A PACT. Not the kind of pact that is made in the opera “Der Freisch├╝tz” (The Marksman) and that leads inevitably to death and destruction. More a kind of pact that keeps the audience watching the opera till the end, with the feeling that there is no escape from the cruel German legend, but that there is pleasure in assisting to it.

THIS IS A PACT ABOUT PLEASURE. What else could it be? There is no money or fame involved. Even a proofreader is missing to edit these words, written during a rainy evening in a Berlin apartment. There is just Word’s auto-correction program and I. And a strange voice in my head, telling me to



I don’t know if I passed on this link to you already:

Don’t worry; it is not a virus, though it might become contagious. Let me explain to you: When I watched this video colleagues had passed on to me some time ago I felt a certain danger, a growing tension between the singer and the audience. I have been to Finland a couple of times and have experienced community centres in countryside that offer cultural divertissement at isolated places. I have seen a drag queen performing in a back street of Tampere, and I also got into trouble in another back street, when walking along with an Argentinean colleague who was wearing his hair long and black. The video’s constellation did not seem to predict a lucky ending at all. Even when the first man starts to dance, it looks more like a kind of provocation. “Is he willing? Will he play?” asks the singer, and then suddenly the scene takes off to another place, to an old fairy tale that goes like this: Two brothers follow the spell of a strange woman, and lead the whole village to her place in the forest, where young and old lose their caution when listening to the woman’s seductive songs. They follow her invitation and start to dance; they lose themselves in their movements and in their dreams. They become somebody else. The only one, who does not enter the dance, but watches from the margin, is the brothers’ sister, who gave her voice to the woman in exchange for the promise of fame and fortune for her family. Silently, unable to speak, for her tongue belongs to somebody else now, with her eyes wide open, she keeps watching.


It is the fascination of a multiplicity inside us that draws us to the edge of a forest to witness the pack (of wolves, of witches, of witnesses of a ritual) and its shepherd, its leader or singer or sorcerer. Unnatural participation, as Deleuze and Guattari call it, a propagation by epidemic, by contagion. There is always someone on the edge inviting you to make and alliance, to enter a pact. Someone defined by the liminal position of being inside and outside the pack, of slipping into it (slipping into a tune, a costume, a voice, a gender) or standing outside as the exceptional individual, the “Outsider”. It is a dynamic position, a movement marking the borderline of the pack, into which the human passes or inn which his or her becoming takes place, by contagion (Deleuze&Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 1730). In this sense, the singer does not only invite the brother to play or to dance, but also to bring along the human group he has a second alliance with, the audience watching the two dance, as the singer watched the two brothers dance before (Oh, what a dance), and along with it the next human group, the fascinated Self, the You Tube audience watching a dance that comes as a surprise; that involves a group most unlikely to spend time together in a community centre up north. What are they doing there? How did they come together, if not secretly and always on the fringe?

You can say that we are just watching a summer hit of Club music, produced by Karin and Olof Dreijer aka The Knife, who appear in the video as the dancing men and the young woman in the last shot. That Rickard Engfors who performs the playback version of the song “Pass this on”, simply marks the making of his/her drag performance by putting on the music and taking the fake microphone. A drag show, a fake song, a music video.

I say we are watching a becoming, and by watching it, we get invited to a pact, we might even get infected by an affinity to politics that are neither those of the family nor of religion nor of the State.

This video might be contagious.