Olga de Soto - Histoire(s)
The choreographer Olga de Soto (Spain/Belgium) visits Dansens Hus in Oslo with the "performance" Histoire(s), a video collage of 8 interviews with people who saw "le jeune homme et la mort" in 1946. The piece was performed by Jean Babilée and Nathalie Philippart, choreographed by Roland Petit, and was evidently a very dramatic and tragic story of love and death. Olga de Soto decided to explore questions of memory and performance by interviewing people who saw this very intense piece all those years ago, and the result is Histoire(s), an original performance which consists of edited excerpts of the interviews.
The way the video is edited, we hear answers but not questions. We see people struggling to remember, recall, explain 40 years old impressions. They explain the action, fragmented but with sharp and clear details - the way memory tends to record things. Costume, scenography, props. Oh, how did it end again? He comitted suicide, really? Surprisingly it seems very few of them recalled the dramatic climax at the end where the main character hangs himself. They go on to explain why they wanted to watch the piece: being happy and joyous because peace had come at last, celebrating normality after hard years of war, the joy of watching death in stylized, abstract form on a stage instead of as a stark reality on the street.. And some of them tell un-prompted about other brushes with death in their lives: in war as a battle field nurse, in peace as a pediatrician or grandmother. Memories the more aestetic and abstract stage performance both is a contrast to and helps them talk about. This video is a subtle, unique and strong statement on art and life, nothing less.
At the end, the image disappears and we hear all 8 introduce themselves by name and give certain small biographical details. As an audience we struggle with our own memory: that voice, who is she? Near involuntarily we strive to match the voice and the name to one of the faces we recall. In this way, Olga de Soto asks us the same question she has asked the interviewees: what do you remember? What is memory?
Catch this performance if you possibly can.