Systemics # 4 –
Commissioned by at Kunsthal Aarhus, 2014
Curated by Joasia Krysa
Also performed at:
Kunsthal Nikolaj, Copenhagen, DK
Theater Aabne Scene, Aarhus, DK
The work emerged out of an original idea to stage Marge Piercy’s novel “Woman on the Edge of Time” from 1976, juxtaposing it with “Revolt and Crisis – Between a Present Yet to Pass and a Future Still to Come” (eds. Dimitris Dalakoglou & Antonis Vradis) (2011). Doing so facilitates discussion of potential future scenarios in a field where fiction and fact intersect.
“Woman on the Edge of Time” is regarded as a classic utopian speculative science fiction novel. It merges a story about time travel with treatments of issues concerning economic inequality, social change, co-operation, social movements, and “repairing” the world.
“Revolt and Crisis” analyses the revolt, contextualising it in relation to the state and city in which it arose. The book explores the waves of crises that followed in its wake, and offers theories on future possibilities for revolt in light of the economic crisis. The book urges us to radically rethink and redefine our tactics for resistance in a rapidly changing landscape where crises and potentialities are engaged in a fierce battle with an uncertain outcome.
This last point is of central significance to this performance video work: poised somewhere between fiction and fact it depicts the perspectives of revolution in a state of constant interchange between past, present, and future, accentuating the dialectic links between them. Our existing, present-day society is partly described through our main protagonist – Connie, a psychiatric patient – and her memories of her past; partly through her experiences of the present; and partly via her journey through time to a future utopian world. The utopia depicted in this play differs from other classic utopias in one respect: it is incomplete, not yet finished: the battle still rages. For the future utopian society exists side by side with a dystopian counterpart, and the two future societies are waging war on each other. In the play, humanity is divided into those in power and those who are oppressed, the victims – and the latter are in turn divided into two categories: the ‘well-adjusted’, who have adapted them- selves to the system, and the ‘maladjusted’, which represent the chance for protest against the system and the hope for a better future. It is, however, made very clear that you must be ready to fight a long, hard struggle to achieve the final realisation of the utopian vision.
For most of the play the main point of view is that of the ‘victim’, the economically and socially disadvantaged, but we are presented with the authorities’ point of view in the form of the official story about Connie. This gives the play an ironic twist, and – given the fact that the end position is conventionally accorded special significance – it adds support to a pessimistic reading of the play. For if Connie’s experiences and actions are simply perceived through the definitions applied by the authorities, and hence by society – i.e. as manifestations of insanity – there is little hope that they will affect the shape of the future.