two-women-machine-show

About two-women-machine-show

two-women-machine-show is a project name under which the choreographers and performers Ida-Elisabeth Larsen and Marie-Louise Stentebjerg have joined forces. They first met at SEAD in 2004 and then again back in Copenhagen in 2009 where they are now based. Alongside their own projects and international collaborations, they've also founded the collective RISK together with the two other Copenhagen-based choreographers; Marie Topp and Gry Raaby. Since their first collaboration two-women-machine-show have been occupied with themes such as mass-phenomenon, monoculture, the uniform, and unison movement. They access their work from two angles: Their choreographic method (Found material in a live-art context) and their conscious approach to the duo format as a genre in itself. two-women-machine-show is currently developing works in a series of collaborations among others with the artist collective RISK, with choreographer Sara Gebran and with playwright Kristian Husted. In the same collaborative spirit the duo just premiered T R A N S-, a piece made in collaboration with British actor Jonathan Bonnici. It premiered at Bora Bora's platform 'New Nordic Dances' (11th - 14th of march, 2015). T R A N S- is curated for Det Frie Felts Festival in Cph. in June, and will again appear at Dansehallerne, Cph. and Momentum, Odense later in September. Recently the duo was awarded by the Danish Arts Foundation for their work 'My Body is a Barrel of Gunpowder'.

Sub-pieces (under-værker)

The investigative stages of our work produce a number of sub-pieces, sometimes shared with smaller audiences in favour of the experiment and feedback, at other times we just keep them to ourselves. We see them as points of references in the duo’s otherwise incessant process always at work. More specifically these sub-pieces consists of different modes of documentation, found material or small collections of performance ideas filtered through an articulated frame. Although these pieces come out of certain processes they don’t necessarily point towards any specific, future production, and so we have begun to consider them as autonomous ‘objects’ in themselves. They take on various formats such as site specific stuff, performance, photo, text or video, and has in that sense given us perspectives on choreographic work, that we would otherwise not have access to. This blog-page is dedicated to the opening up of our archive. We will take use of this site as a place where we can form new relations between the sub-pieces, a way for us to practise a sense of re-cycling of own material.

 

Found Material and the Copy (or mixing up identities)

Today (26.04.15) we have selected a small handful of material we found and created around the ‘Trilogy of Implosion’, which we have been working on since 2012. The trilogy includes the works ‘Mass Hysteria’, ‘My Body is a Barrel of Gunpowder’ and the current work-in-progress ‘Straight White Male’. The selection we have chosen to call ‘Found Material and the Copy (or mixing up identities)’ and it consists of various quotes from the book ‘Culture of the Copy: striking likenesses, unreasonable facsimiles’ by Hillel Schwartz (1996), a handful of photographs and a video clip.

 

VANISHING TWINS

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Dressing room. Godsbanen, 2015

We are conceived as twins and, most of us, born single. We conceive ourselves, from the start, as twins, then one disappears. Together, the ‘First Twins’ struggle with forces primeval, opening a space in this world for us to tame horses, plough the land, survive the lightning; then one devours the other. The vanished twin leaves behind a body as dry and thin as a fragment of papyrus. () The stories we tell about our bodies, under the sign of the double helix, are as generative as they are genetic; we are said to begin, literally and originally, by making copies of ourselves. () Midwife to the modern legend was Dr. Arnold Gesell, meditating upon twins in 1922. If one fetal twin was stronger than the other, he wrote, its sibling might degenerate into a “vegetative mass of malformed or unformed tissue.” () Pillaging the books of psychologist René Zazzo, who had studied with Gesell in New Haven and then worked with pairs of French twins, Michel Tournier wrote a novel, Les Météores, in which one of the set of identical twins Jean+Paul spins a yarn of universal twinship. “Every pregnant woman carries two children in her womb,” claims Paul. “But the stronger will not tolerate the presence of a brother with whom he will have to share everything. He strangles him in his mothers belly and, having strangled him, he eats him, then comes into the world alone, stained with the original crime, doomed with solitariness and betrayed with the stigma of his montrous size.” These ogres live on, incomplete, seeking that perfect communion they sacrificed before death. () Two millenia ago, during Plato’s Symposium on love, Aristophanes spoke of an originally double human being split by Zeus and searching always for the other half. () In 1975 Salvator Levi of the University Hospital in Brussels, lifted the vanished twin out of fiction and philosophy into obstetric fact. Reporting the results of exams given to 6690 pregnant women, Levi found that “71% of twin gestations diagnosed before 10 weeks were singletons when delivered.” () By 1982, the twin and synchronous swimmer Kay Cassill was already contributing to a popular legend about an entire lost tribe of twins who might have kept true company with us among an overwhelming host of simulacra. “It may well prove to be the case,” she wrote, “that for every one hundred singletons alive today, way over half of them may have begun life with a twin!” Unimpressed with the banal conjecture of uterine resorption, Cassill proposed that “the surviver may indeed be keeping his brother (or sister) alive in some transformed state within his own body.” () While vanished twinship assures us of a semipiternal human link, it affords us also the pathos of inexpressible loss. () The legend of the vanished twin ultimately has less to do with science or medicine than with the oracular powers of twins who, together, appear to tell us most of what we want to know about being uniquely human and, apart, more than we want to know about feeling alone.

 

CONTROLS

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Photo shoot. Max Markov, 2013

Their resemblance extending not only to their actual appearance, but entering into the very character of their minds. () Discussing the legal conundrum of which twin was elder and so entitled to the patrimony, an eighteenth-century encyclopedist had to admit that “what passes in the mother’s womb between conception and childbirth is a secret so impenetrable to the eyes of men that not even the lights of Physiology can dispel our ignorance.”

 

BEFORE AND AFTER 

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Re-mediation. Laura Laukkanen, 2013

Victorian vanishing twins were sacrificed to the cause of abstinence by the grim visage of excess: our vanishing twins are sacrificed to the cause of consumerism by a Millenial vision. Even the most familiar of before-and-afters, fronting one weightloss miracle after another, promise spicy menu as stimulant to a delicious new life.
Advertisors first exploited twins for their exponential powers. If twins were double, could they not double the world? Around 1900 the brunette beauties beneath the logo of Hall’s Vegetable Sicilian Hair Renewer were captioned “DOUBLE. Why not double the beauty of your hair?” Circus audiences of 1932 found their programs graced by two identical long-legged dancers saying, “Since we’ve been washing our stockings in Lux they give twice as many performances.” () Voices on radio, photographs in magazines, and video footage of identical twins have since promised worldwide to “Double Your Pleasure.” () Why should we today find twin experiments and twin-packing such common skeins in advertising’s bag of wool? On the one side, posing identical twins hip to hip is a synecdoche of mass production. Like quality-controlled factory output, identical twins are ostensibly interchangable replicas of each other. They have been used, indeed, to sell Genuine Ford parts. () Apart from advertising’s swaggering sexism, against which critics have railed for decades, what may explain more specifically the engagement of twin women as prophets of human nature? () Their unique sexuality? Consider the common male fantasia about female twins, who carry out perfect multiple conjugations. “[I]magine how excitedly I looked forward to a session with Linda, one of the vivacious Thompson twins,” write a pornographer-cum-psychiatrist. “Double dipping, double fun, I thought with a grin.” Linda has “perfectly symmetrical little breast,” a peaches ‘n’ cream complexion, and “another one exactly like her” back home. () (Aristophanes had imagined some of the possibilities, in Plato’s Symposium: “After the division the two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and threw their arms about one another eager to grow into one.”) () (“…so ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of man”). () The Great Mother, notes Barbara G. Walker in her Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, is she who, in culture after culture, gives blood and breath to celestial twins, as did latona, primal mother of the Greek World Egg, who bore Castor and Pollux. () I do mean to say that the sexual allure of twins is as inadequate an explanation for the prominence of twin women as is the allure of Aristophanic and Great Mother. Unique sexuality, symbolic wholeness, historic sexism and blithe scientism are necessary but insufficient answers to the question: Why, if advertisers resorted to identical twinship for its implicit oracular power, did the estimable gift of prophecy fall so overwhelmingly to identical twin women? () Because advertising has become our sibylline medium, deciphering our dreams, telling us who we are and what we should be doing. Because the intuitiveness, the communitarian sensitivity, the ecstasies of the orcular are linked more tightly to women than to men ever since the Greeks found their Fates and sibyls. Because advertising is every which way twinning: a world of Twice as Long and Twice as Much, Buy One Get One Free, Double Your Pleasure or Double Your Money Back. Because this twinning is sponsored by a capital faith that consuming should be a passion, as it must have been in the womb: that the consumer must ever be unsatisfied, as is the singleton: that through hyperbole a commodity can leave behind its lookalike sisters to become a Brand; that, in other words, the Control will be forgotten as humanity is possessed in the name of the Other.

 

DOUBLE TROUBLE

Copying dances. Dansehallerne, 2013

Playing across from each other, twins have also had to inoculate themselves against folie à deux. Known since 1819 as folie gémellaire, twinly madness, the disorder was renamed and popularized in 1877 by two unrelated French physicians, Charles Laségue and Jules Falret, studying cases of the “morbid interpsychology” of unrelated people. Folie à deux extended to delusions shared by husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, and Bedlam pals, but psychologists took as their standard the possibly pathological likemindedness of twins. () Observering that continual, repetitive contact could result in the “contagious” transfer of insane beliefs, Laségue and Falret gave as the fifth of their examples in the case of “old maid” twin sisters living together. It was not clear whether the two had contracted folie à deux merely because they were twins, but it was clear that becuase of their folie à deux, the doctors treated them as if they were identical. Rare in 1877, folie à deux is now a catch-all in common parlance and prejudice; rare have been those identical twins not condemned to a species of folie à deux by singletons who ask, “How can you tell the difference between yourself and your sister?” () Twins themselves have ever struggled to define themselves both as two and as one. () “We are shadows of the real but not the real; we live by half-truths and half-facts”. () A return to the promise of companionate twinship was confluent with the public emergence of the legend of the vanishing twin, for at century’s end each singleton would feel double in a doubled time of ends and beginnings. The vanished twin, the vanquished, the Control, stood proxy to a paradoxical sense of exhaustion and incompletion at the fin se siécle; the survivor, the Other, represented an exhilaration about a new calendrical world with its iconic 2 – another millennium, a second chance. The legend of the vanishing twin emerged just as we had to breach an apocalyptic 1999 and send our children across as settlers to a foreign epoch already populated with fictive androids, cyborgs, litters of clones. Small wonder that identical twins should have become our oracles, or that vanishing twins should bind each singleton to a twofold life. 

 

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