Venturing into the futuristic surrounds of the Stadskantor for the first time, an immediate confirmation of the imagery that pop culture has presented as depicting our future world and existence occurred.
Aesthetically every film from Kubrick’s ‘2001: Space Oddessey’ to Jonze’s ‘Her’ now seemed to make sense, this building visually representing our future aspirations, the constant update of technology and our global obsession with image.
Finding ourselves in a small fragmented huddle within a vast foyer space, we hear a short introduction of PoroCity by choreography Andrea Božić.
It doesn’t give away much.
We are encouraged to stay silent.
To turn off our phones.
A figure in green detaches himself from the group, his body is commanding, sure, his face neutrally expressioned.
He is excited.
He has heard of a brand new water park, it is meant to contain all of his wildest desires.
A performer in red questions the performer in green.
She too is commanding and existent in her own reality but in brief moments they engage and question one another.
With descriptive sentences spoken adamantly, the performer in green arrives and is bitterly disappointed.
This water park is a lie.
All he sees are spas.
Spas extending throughout his horizon line, outside and even towering upwards on multiple architectural levels.
With curiosity and disappointment, he walks his surrounds.
People fill this peculiar place.
There is judgement in their eyes.
A sudden awareness that he is an outsider and not welcome…
Their piercing glares burn metaphorical holes in his body as he breaks unknown rules by walking through the now milky spas.
This action seemingly forbidden from this water park.
We (the viewer) transform into this crowd, we peer at him largely with little emotion shown on our faces.
He becomes aware that he is naked and is initially ashamed. But we do not shame him for that.
Our exclusion is specific and unidentified, yet continually present.
He wants to get out but can’t find the exit.
Upon his escape, we follow the performer in green up the escalators and into a world of dreams, seemingly located throughout the building.
The performer in red speaks once more, within the same space they concurrently describe the situations they exist within.
A spoken convergence between both red and green continues in certain moments, providing an explanatory bridge that questions the sureties of the spoken statements of the one other.
Challenging established dream-logic.
The performer in red is happy at first, she has found a group of people to belong to.
They all wear colourful sports jackets.
With joviality and hope, she follows them up a hill united with the group mentality.
She does not know where they are going.
When they gather as a group, one gives another a pill.
Initially seeming harmless, a sudden intuition kicks into her mind.
This pill causes imminent death.
She wants to intervene but she cannot find the right words.
With communality, each sports-jacket wearer blindly consumes their own pill, while internalised panic occurs in the performer.
She knows she cannot escape. Her death is inevitable.
Her intuition overpowered as she has enters a fixed state, paralysed and frozen, much like a trapped animal hypnotised by it’s predator.
I couldn’t help but to think of people who join cults and demise within this setting.
With all of this occurring as we move throughout the varying locations of the building, the viewer finds themselves in a constant shifting position.
Building elements are sometimes used by the performers as they describe their personal surrounds within their performative sequence.
This brings not only a subtle situational reminder but makes the viewer consider their own waking lives and wandering thoughts.
And moreover that in every space any given person exists within their own personal reality fused with a slippage of fantasy or imagination.
These blurred boundaries are reinforced by the shifting vocal projection of the performers, each having a small speaker on their lower back.
With their vocal tones varying slightly dependent on where the viewer stands, this only contributes to the sensation of the surreal, the meeting place between dream and reality.
Entering a narrowed space, we are lead towards a tall thin iron bar standing vertically upright.
We can hear sounds coming from it.
I am unsure if this is normal here, an element of this futuristic building.
As we move away, a man bumps into the bar. It falls.
The sound petrifying.
I jump out of my own skin.
And become suspiciously aware of the physicalities of my location, I begin to distrust every pipe or potentially unnecessary building element and feel anger towards the sounds I hear, having previously been at ease with them.
What is orchestrated? What is reality?
Why does this indistinction make me deeply uncomfortable?
A new sequence begins.
The performer in green steps through a white curtain. He is in a boundless picturesque Croation landscape.
The performer in red steps through a white curtain.
She is in a peculiar public toilet.
There are no walls here.
Simply toilets on the ground with a transparent pipe.
She is confused.
Unwantedly someone demonstrates and normalises this toiletry procedure.
She is uncomfortable with the space and with those around her.
Suddenly, uncontrollably she also must evacuate her bowels.
So see does as she has seen.
The shit travels up the pipe, visible and unashamed. It finishes its journey dispensed in a metal drain on the floor. Exposed.
The performer has deep shame.
The shit suddenly fills her mouth.
She gags, is horrified, feeling bound and trapped. The performer enacts extreme vomiting.
She feels humiliated as if she is unwillingly part of some kind of nasty plan that those in this public toilet must have been aware of.
She is finally able to get the shit out of her mouth but the chunks remain. She is entirely disgusted, so much so that she can barely cope with the situation at hand.
This segment of the performance reminded me of the exhibition 'Goldene Bend'er' I’d seen by Australian artist Mikala Dwyer at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art back in 2013.
As part of the exhibition, there had been a performance work where ornately dressed figures with faces shrouded by medieval hooded masks circled a public room and began to empty their bowels into clear cylindrical containers.
Although both this performance work and Dwyer’s both were both connected to our responses and feelings to do with human waste, the sense of control of the participants in these rituals was vastly different.
While Dwyer’s had seemed as if the performers were participating in an established normalised ritual simply on display to a bemused audience, Porocity’s was brutal and horrifying.
Control was taken from the performer.
She could no longer hold in her need to shit.
Then attempting desperately to normalise the situation and act as she had seen.
Only for the most humiliating to be senselessly inflicted on someone innocent in the situation.
Meanwhile, the green performer is exploring the wild landscape in Croatia, marvelling at his witness of plant and ecological growth.
In a later situation, we accompany the red performer on her walk with her friend.
Air balloons without a basket float temptingly by. Her friend grabs the rope.
The performer doesn’t know why but supposes she better join her.
After a majestic but terrifying flight across Europe, they have landed.
And with a sudden turn, the performer is angry. She has been mislead.
There was meant to be treasure there.
Suddenly the situation was a ‘scam’.
I wondered what inner decision had shifted an unplanned balloon flight into the expectation of finding treasure?
The performer blames all of those who surround her.
She refuses to take responsibility for her decision to grab the rope and begin the flight.
As a viewer to Porocity at times, we became various people throughout each performers situation.
We inflict paralysing fear.
We silently ostracise.
We become shop attendants.
We transform into bears.
We were predators.
We were bystanders.
We inflicted discomfort.
We were initiated by eye contact and by the performers nomination.
At times I was unsure who was formally a part of this performance and whether that even mattered?
The ambiguity became more engaging than my desire to structure the experience.
As viewers, we watched imagination feed into reality.
We witnessed human insecurity and our tendency to disregard intuition while only later being forced to rely upon it.
The duality of dreams and the influences of day to day life are viscerally displayed and thus inner narratives that exist in each person that are largely left dormant and untold are exposed.
By Diana Story
© Thomans Lenden