Paris Art 01-04-2019
With Dying Together – an immersive and interactive performance piece – Lotte Van den Berg offers a sensitive experience in an unusual setting, subtly bridging the destructiveness covered by the media with each and everyone’s experience.
Death is decomposing matter. Beyond this reality, a whole new ritual can be built and a world developed and filled with representations, words and actions. With Dying Together, Dutch choreographer Lotte Van den Berg (Third Space company) proposes to work and build as a collective. Blending performance art, dance and theater, Dying Together creates an immersive experience similar to a workshop. And that experience runs for three hours. The audience take their place in a space that looks more like a dance studio than a theater stage. While they are a collective, they comprise a variety of individuals. The show starts off with silence and reading. The attendees are invited to read the booklet that they were given at the entrance. It contains a description of the experience.
An interactive and immersive performance
While the piece is not a group therapy experience, Lotte Van den Berg does offer a thoroughly conceived approach. Living alone, dying alone, living together, dying together. Apart from these simple binaries, things get more entangled. In order to pinpoint collective loneliness and alleviate the isolating consequences of fears, Dying Together picks its way through in four stages. As described in the booklet. Accordingly, the eight performers, along with the choreographer herself, the experience slowly comes together. Calmly and sensitively, three moments of collective death are unraveled: the Germanwings air crash on March 14, 2015; the bombing attack at the Bataclan on November 13, 2015; the sinking of a ship off the island of Lampedusa on October 3, 2013. While some deaths are experienced vicariously and others affect us less, Dying Together offers an alternative vantage.
Beyond media time and therapeutic time: the humanizing time of art
Away from media (collective) time or psychotherapeutic (individual) time, is art time. As it mediates the individual and the general, Dying Together rehumanizes those dead people flying by. In ancient times, there were mourners and their astounding outpourings of grief. In an age when the whole world is throbbing live – with cries, tears, breakdowns, scares and whatnot – Dying Together proposes instead a another ritual, filled with quietness and meditation. In this common space, audiences are invited to participate or not. Refusing to participate doesn’t lead to exclusion as it is also a legitimate form of participation. As it incorporates writing, thinking and sharing, the piece utilizes simple actions, such as being somewhere, with other people, shortly before dying. Or while dying. Or after dying. And it does so with the appropriate respect for the events referred to. This is the time of collective maturity. Dying Together undermines indifference.
The original text in French can be found here.