Monkeys, and in particular apes, are considered “almost human” animals. This “almost” has made them a surface for projecting that which is considered human by other humans. At the beginning of the 20th century, two chimpanzees named Consul and Meshie lived like humans, with humans, and seemed to think of themselves as human. Antonia Baehr and Latifa Laâbissi have assumed their simian identities, but they are not seeking historical correctness. Furry, promiscuous, impertinent, quite shameless, these two human monkeys occupy Nadia Lauro’s installation which is set in quiet areas of museums and theatres, not on a stage. Starting with two leather car seats whose furry insides are spilled and spread around the space, “Consul Baehr” and “Meshie Laâbissi” interact for a period of five hours during which spectators may enter and exit as they wish.
The performance has a length of 3:30 h. The entrance and exit of the public will be allowed showing the entrance ticket.
A human is a monkey for human beings. Or: two human figures play at being monkeys who are playing at being human for the humans. They lose and regain control, mutually taming one another. They enthusiastically discover skills and things not to do. They sleep and fall into abject apathy, they explode into cascading watchwords declaimed in populist speeches. They cannibalize certain poses, iconic dances, embroider slogans. Consul and Meshie represent hybrid figures examining the violence of assignations and stirring up chaos in the categories of nature vs. culture, man vs. woman, and the self vs. others.
Conception and performance by: Latifa Laâbissi and Antonia Baehr. Visual installation: Nadia Lauro. Figures: Antonia Baehr, Latifa Laâbissi and Nadia Lauro. Sound and Light Design: Carola Caggiano. Administration: Alexandra Wellensiek / make up productions and Fanny Virelizier / Figure Project. Design Game “French Theory Memory”: Hilà Lahav.
Thanks to: Vinciane Despret, Donna Haraway, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Melanie Poppe, Rayna Rapp, Constanze Schellow, Emilia and Kathrin Schlosser, Mia Sellmann, the team at HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Jean-Yves and Danielle Auvray.
A co-production of Figure Project / make up productions and HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), Le Magasin des horizons (Grenoble), CCN2 - Centre choréographique national de Grenoble, Xing / Live Arts Week VII (Bologna). Funded by Hauptstadtkulturfonds and Berlin’s Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
Latifa Laâbissi. Mixing genres and redefining formats, the creations of Latifa Laâbissi bring onstage, multiple off-stage /off-field elements, channelling different figures and voices. The staging of these voices and the face as a vehicle of minority states, ties into the danced portions of the work in Self portrait camouflage (2006) and Loredreamsong (2010). Continuing her thematic study of archives, she created Écran somnambule and La part du rite (2012) based on German dance from the 1920s. Pourvu qu’on ait l’ivresse (2016), co-signed with set designer Nadia Lauro, created visions, landscapes and images, combining excess, monstrosity, the beautiful, the random, the comic and also fear. Since 2011, Latifa Laâbissi has been Artistic Director of the Extension Sauvage artistic and pedagogical program and festival in rural Brittany. In 2016, a monography on the ensemble of her work was published by the Editions Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers and Les presses du réel. Until 2019, Latifa Laâbissi will be an Associated Artist at the CCN2 – Centre chorégraphique national de Grenoble and at Le Triangle – Cité de la danse à Rennes.
Antonia Baehr. Next to choreographic elements, Antonia Baehr is interested in rules and the laws which a society (and in particular the space in a theatre) assigns to bodies, to make them recognizable and comprehensible. She is a performer, a filmmaker and a visual artist, and as a choreographer she searches in everyday fiction and theatre, working at the edges of that which defines us as human beings—placing us via a voluptuous see-saw in critical positions. She is interested in the opposition between humans and animals, but also in elements in representational space. In her work she interacts with, among others, Neo Hülcker, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, Andrea Neumann, Latifa Laâbissi, William Wheeler and Valérie Castan, and with others who are interested in the changing of roles: from project to project, each artist is alternately the host or the guest. Baehr is also the producer for the horse whisperer and dancer Werner Hirsch, the musician and choreographer Henri Fleur, the composer Henry Wilt and the emerging composer of contemporary music (and her ex-husband) Henry Wilde.
Nadia Lauro has developed her work in many different contexts (theatrical spaces, landscape architecture, museums). She creates stage sets, environments and visual installations which encourage viewers to see things and be together differently. She has collaborated with many choreographers and performance artists, including Vera Mantero, Barbara Kraus, Latifa Laâbissi, Fanny de Chaillé, Alain Buffard, Antonija Livingstone, Jonathan Capdevielle and Jennifer Lacey, with whom she has jointly created many projects. Their collaboration was the subject of a book published by Les presses du réel: Jennifer Lacey & Nadia Lauro, Dispositifs chorégraphiques, by Alexandra Baudelot. Nadia Lauro has created the sets and the “figures” for Latifa Laâbissi’s works for more than ten years, and in 2016 they co-authored the creation Pourvu qu’on ait l’ivresse. She created a series of installations/performances: Tu montes, As Atletas and I hear voices, scripted environments built in various settings (museums, theatre lobbies, galleries, parks) in Europe, Japan and South Korea.
The performance at MACBA Barcelona is supported by the NATIONALES PERFORMANCE NETZ International Guest Performance Fund for Dance, which is funded by the German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.