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It stinks of mouldy stables and burnt bacon in Grusomhetens Teater. It's all about me, writes Jon Refsdal Moe.
From orgie to Icon: Director Runar Hodne's production of Pasolini's Orgie, currently playing at Troshov Teater in Oslo, was slaughtered by the critics. However, Ikon at Grusomhetens Teater is probably the best Pasolini you will experience this year.
Who would have thought that we would be led down to into the cellars of Hausmania, the street-smart culture complex where spray cans glisten in the frozen night and no pushers no buyers hangs above you like a saloon sign, to experience an intellegent and rough-edged exploration of capitalism and sexuality. Certainly not me.
Considering the unsettling, society-diagnostic title (Icon), as well as the cross-clipping between religous and pop-culture iconography that has recently taken place in the neighborhood (Church of All Stars, kulturkirken Jakob), there was adequate reason to be concerned. However, the live-art group Motherboard, for this event extended to include Runar Hodne and John Erik Riley, find themselves miles away from the properness of Jakob's culture workshop. Questions such as whether Satan or Posh Spice best represent Icons of today are simply not raised. Instead we are served a long and acursedly detestable monologue, broken up by four video cameras and phlegmatic surfing across FM bandwidths.
Him and I: It stinks of mouldy stables and burnt bacon in Grusomhetens Teater; actor Hauk Heyerdahl is our man on the sofa. A very worn out man, dressed in a pair of even more worn out slippers embarks on his conversation with an absent partner. If we are to beleive the author Riley, it all revolves around a sexually traumatised young man with the name John Erik. What makes it more detestable is that I also know that it it is about me.
The man calls himself a documentarist, but the theatre looks and smells like a shaby porno studio in a frozen, desolate place far from here, where only the pornographist himself remains after the youth have long since learnt to keep well away. This man has locked me in with him and thrown away the key. Now him and I shall interact. Help me out of here!
Pasolini. In Pier Pasolini's Salò (1976) a group of fascists kidnap 16 youths and, following a meticulous plan, force them into sexually depraving situations before murdering them in a stylized, prepared happening. More than being an aesthetic study of fascism, Salò is primarily a frontal attack on the almost boudaryless romanticism which defined intellectual Eroupe's aesthetic program in the 60's and early 70's, and in which Pasolini's artistry was deeply enscribed. - We facsists are the only true anarchists, as it is said in Salò. Excess is a product of, and stands in contrast to, blind submission beneath the norm. The film is a constant suicide because it simutaneously nurtures excess while killing every attempt to nuture it.
Rather than being an artistic attack on a superficial media society (blah!), Ikon is primarily an attack on artistic strategies. Excess is nurtured today in the institutional counter culture, but where it once dealt with establishing utopias beyond logic, we now talk about aesthetic invasions: of the field of media as well as the observer's totally private room.
Icon is the story about a project where these invasions merge, formulated via an art practice which is strikingly similar. This makes Icon one of the most interesting comments on contemporary times that I have witnessed for a long while. En Salò for hipster-aesthetics in 2006? At any rate it is the best Pasolini performance you will see this year.