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No one to bring your charge against, for your mistakes, your insensitivity and stupidity

BODY THEATER / Wearing black suit, black mask, black gloves, half human, half insect, clattering like the beetle…


Post No Bills
Dancer Kitt Johnson
Dance chapel. Copenhagen Stage Festival, 2019

A seated collapsed body, wearing a black suit, black mask, black gloves, half human, half insect, now clattering like the beetle moving in zigzag, or sideways, constantly along the ground, tense into a trembling energy, agile, inhuman , cannibal, self-consuming, now crawling across the white earth, this monkey, this human, never the naturalistic forms of the western bodies, but masked, curved, elated bodies, with white eyes, the tragic obscenity of the monkey, now caterpillar-like, electric, distorted, motionless.

Butoh dance, body dance, body art: the theater of distortion.

This small body absorbs space and causes it to tremble more than the outstretched bodies of the western big dance. It is the secret of cruelty: characters, bodies and earth that are interconnected rather than dissolved. Instead of occupying an abstract space, as in Western choreography, the whole room is brought back to the body with the help of a crazy, tormented and never-well-known nudity. The hands are brought up to the face and pull the hair out of the eyelids of the mask, eyes are no longer needed to see. Now standing while hands button up the suit at the abdomen, which first contracts and then plays out, like an inflated bladder, after which the contours of a face, a child, an unborn child, an old child, lie in the folds of the stomach. Death precedes birth, blood does not circulate. For a long time the body remains standing while the child seems to retreat into the stomach, away from us, away from the world.

Afterwards, the standing body leaves this room by a back door in one corner. And we, the spectators, move silently, without applause, across the same floor, the same ground, out the same back door, the space and the scene that is no longer where there is only the body, the nudity, the life. Butoh dance, body dance, body art: the theater of distortion. Post No Bills is the title of this piece: no one to direct your accusation, for your mistakes, your insensitivity and stupidity. No God, no remission of sins, no disclaimer or indulgence. Not even here while standing outside the Dance Chapel at Bispebjerg Cemetery in Copenhagen.

Art power

Post No Bills is a study of the crisis as a creative transformer. For critical experience is acquired through experiencing crises. Crisis and criticism are mutually exclusive. Crisis and criticism have common root in Greek krinein: to separate, decide, purify. Criticism is the position of reality. With criticism, truth is divorced from false, real from false, and through criticism the individual rises out of the flock and becomes a responsible human being. The crisis is therefore always a break with the past. Which gives you the opportunity to look something deeply into your eyes, namely what life is fundamentally about and what values ​​count.

Post No Bills is a arte povera, (Italian. «poor art») originated from the Italian movement in the 1960s and 70s northern Italy, where the artists, as part of the political uprising, took a radical position. Based on art critic Germano Celati's thoughts on the once creative and critical potential of art, art should be used to explore and attack the established institutions, rulers, industry and culture.

And Johnson's theatrical art wedges in where the socket is finally lost and the new unknown is hardly recognized. There's no need to wrap things up anymore. The presentation of the play states: “When we can no longer ignore the utter fatal of confusing expansion with development. When the choice stands between death or change. […] Right there we meet the gloomy illusionless man with empty hands. Turned home. Free to reinvent the beginning. ”

The body as resistance

For eight years I have followed the Danish dancer and body artist Kitt Johnson (b. 1956), who is trained both in sports and as a choreographer, and self taught solo dancer for 25 years. Since I first watched Johnson's twisted, sculpted and distorted Francis Bacon-like body performance in the play OPERATION, examining man as an operating being caught between culture and nature, I have had the feeling of witnessing something very special.

Johnson combines an intense version of a minimalist body art that seems all the more direct and expressive. The body thinks while it, like another caterpillar, distorted, vulnerable and naked, records its own tableaux. A living painting. Bruegel, Hieronimus Bosch, Bacon. Not the human being who is mastering, speaking and thinking, but something inside the human who comes from somewhere, a deep tenderness.

In Johnson's flimsy body, weakness becomes a force, as if to say: The world thinks through me. As if here we are told the truth. Because the body is the last place for resistance? Johnson is maximally present, and we know nothing but that too.

With her work, Kitt Johnson has elevated performing arts to a new level where old tradition's body consciousness (butoh) meets with more urban and rustic body experiments added with tenderness and crisis awareness.

Alexander Carnera
Alexander Carnera
Carnera is a freelance writer living in Copenhagen.

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