During the summer of 2001, I was asked to participate at Wien Umgehen (Getting Aroud Vienna), and had a ten day residency in Vienna’s 23rd district, also known as Brigittenau. At the end of my stay I presented/projected a ten-minute flash movie, accompanied by a short live performance. In the movie I presented a fictive tongue-manipulating machine.

During my stay in Brigittenau, I kept a visual diary of my occupations by day, untill I learned the the symbol of this district contained a ripped-off tongue. As a choreographer the body in its purest form is my working material, and I was very intrigued by this tongue, both as an object as well as a startingpoint for a story: why had this tongue been ripped out, out of which body and by whom?

After having lost interest in this questions, I got the idea to make an installation/performance, existing out of a person/dancer and a machine. The machine would be able to rip a fake tongue out of the perfomer’s mouth. Unable to actually construct this machine, I decided to present the whole story and some possible solutions/drawings as an animated flash movie to the audience, followed by a performance using a small prototype of a machine and a fake tongue. After this presentation the public was unable to figure out what was true in my story and what was invented, neither did they know if the tongue-manipulating machine would ever be realised.

Because i don’t think it is up to me to explain my work, the best thing to do is to watch the flash movie (without performance).

For the interested reader: later somebody told me the story of the tongue. It is the story of a saint. Once apon a time there was a queen. She used to confess her sins to a priest. The king, jealous as he was, wanted to know about everything she confessed. The priest, unable to tell him anything, was hung by his tongue from a bridge. Still he didn’t (couldn’t) tell about the queen’s secrets, so the king cut off his tongue. Today many bridges still carry the symbol of the bleeding tongue. The end.

A little background

Wien Umgehen (Getting Around Vienna)
A topographical project by the Tanzquartier Wien

The project/approach

Wien Umgehen took place as the first project in the Tanzquartier Wien’s annual factory season, during which the perspectives developed in the course of the year are combined as a thematic crossover of dance, performance, research and theory. Starting from questions of contemporary dance/performance, a project was developed that first dedicated itself to the relationship of audience situations in public space and on stage, as well as to questions of where gestures turn into movement and action. Beyond these questions it was concerned with city space organisation, with the ‘art of action’, to find codes of the city. 23 artists/groups were invited from the fields of dance performance fine, and performing arts.

The work in the districts

The basis was provided by brief, grant-like residencies, each in a Vienna district, for a maximum of 10 days, which were realised successively throughout May and June 2001. The guidelines from the Tanzquartier Wien were the allocation of a district plus accomodation as the starting point for the challenge, and the request to bring a reference object back from this period of residence. Against the background of each individual’s own artistic practice, the city offers one of its districts as a field of work.