Outlining something that is and is not there: Elissa Hanson on Profilo Eterno
In The Outliner, Elissa Hanson performs Profilo Eterno. Here are some of her observations:
Jennifer and I have been plugging away at this over quite a long span of time. At this point, while it is still somewhat open-ended – the piece is there. But we haven’t fully experienced it in the room. I can tell you some things I know so far.
There is something we’re negotiating in the room in this dance. By we, I mean the costume, my interactions with the costume and the accompanying text: my sense is of each outlining something that is and is not there. Something you can’t quite grasp is involved. An implicit, undeniable exchange is taking place.
I lay out the costume and then I put it on. What’s happening is not a day-to-day thing. I have a sense of heartbreaking, powerful, hilarious magic at the edges of things. Huge opposites are in play. The openness of the space and the nature of public performance combined with something that you would not do in the presence of onlookers, for instance.
Profilo Eterno Photo: Andrea Rabinovitch
The costume is a bit of a trickster. It reminds me a little of a child who doesn’t do what it is supposed to. The headpiece has a nuance of innocence, – like wearing a flower on my head, that kind of funny. Visually, it is also about excess – it feels like it should extend forever, but in truth it’s subject to gravity and always touches the ground.
When it’s all on, it is totally complete. A full-blown creature displaces and replaces a human body with a huge presence, an animal of some fantastical kind.
But it’s not what it says it is. Inside, another logic applies. It has a physics, a logic, a language. Visually, the costume conveys lightness – unbelievable line drawings in space, and a sense of spectacle. Arcs, curves and articulated volumes convey momentum, big space and continuums. There’s something ethereal about it. But in fact it is subject to gravity.
Profilo Eterno (detail) Photo by Michael Slobodan
The costume is a chain effect. It is a set of laws. I dance with its laws.
The head is the most forgiving piece to move with. The head and tail extend in a way that is animal. Has a bit of a whip – and is at once armour and helmet as well. To move it, I have to move my whole body. The rest of the costume is articulated by very small things. The smallest movement almost entirely changes the entire function. The whole logic and physics is displaced and renegotiated with every movement. The costume is extremely live, and being inside the costume is a huge sensory experience – a loud constant twanging, buzzing, rubbing reverberation that no one but me is aware of. I feel my eyes water, the beat of my chest.
It reminds you of something you’ve experienced but can’t quite put your finger on. It was there before – – maddening and satisfying – completely whole. So it’s interesting. It is one of the most challenging pieces I have ever worked on.