Sunday, September 25, 2011

Anne-Sophie Turion : Original Soundtrack for Blank Tape

We see a banquet table, immaculately set for seven with red napkins and white flowers. In a stunning red dress, Anne-Sophie Turion walks to the front of the stage. Well, technically it's the back. The usual seating and staging of VIVO has been flipped around so we are staring at the window of the tech booth like it's a movie screen. The technician Bobby, like Turion, is dressed in red. The top and bottom of the window are flanked by two sets of projected text. Top: "Before I begin"; bottom: "The end." This should be warning enough of the twists and turns to come, but everything starts so innocuously. Turion addresses us like the emcee at an important family reunion. She's just so glad that we could be gathered here together. She wishes she could find just one memory to share with all of us for such a special occasion, but there are so many... The farce of this address is heightened by the mirroring of her speech by text projected on the wall.

A series of ordinary family scenes begin to unfold. Sitting around a table for a family meal. Driving around a lake on a road trip. Birthday parties and birthday cakes. Going dancing with her family. Every scene is happy. Banal and pleasant phrases repeat. "Isn't that nice?" "Do you remember..." "And then she would say..." "Does that remind you of something?" The stories mix together. Was it in the dining room or the car where Dad used to play that song? There was a family trip to a lake, but it's unclear who was there, and what happened. The image of circling around and around comes up in Turion's text and indeed the course of her narrative loops around and over. Like a Robbe-Grillet novel, our minds begin to search for a darker or more meaningful underlying narrative amid the confusion of mundane and happy memories. What is this eagle that keeps coming up in the story? Why is her mother only referred to in text and not speech? And what indeed happened at that lake?

In the meantime, formal aspects of Turion's presentation are theatrically played off each other, creating small surprises and heightening the piece's self-reflexivity. When she stumbles in her speech, the video text runs on to tell a memory of mom hiding in her room with a birthday cake. Music is integral. A soundtrack ranging from the Doors to Grieg to the theme from Jurassic Park animate stories of a visit to a village night club, a night of karaoke. Music relates especially to the narrative of her father's music playing over dinner, during car rides, or perhaps to veil some sort of past trauma. At one point, Turion leaves the stage proper and joins Bobby to view us in the technician booth as "Let's Dance" blasts over the stereo. Lights and disco ball suddenly switch on at the climax of Pink Floyd's "Great Gig in the Sky". Turion is on the table lip-synching her heart out. Other complexities include Turion clearing the table of four place settings. Bobby in a matching red dress later comes out to reset the table. As we circle towards some sort of conclusion, Turion repeats her speech from the opening of the piece, "Good evening. Before I begin..." but the speech is interspersed by recorded audio of the narrator's thoughts. She disappears offstage though her voice is still heard. The top text reads, "Before I begin". The bottom says, "The end."

- stacey ho


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post!
And, by the way, it's Anne-Sophie "Turion", not "Turon"!

Anonymous said...

thank you
- stacey