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Friendship sometimes hurts

Martina Rösler

A dialog between two friends turns out to be an intimate, mischievous, brutal and barbaric meeting of two male bodies. They hit each other hard (while murmuring Mozart’s “Kleine Nachtmusik”) and at the same time one of them tenderly draws a heart with sweating fingers on the others skin, while embracing deeply.

The two young artists Pieter Ampe from Belgium and Guilherme Garrido from Portugal carry on their collaboration they started 2009 with the successful performance Still Difficult Duet. In Still Standing You they propose a rich spectrum of aspects that are implicated in masculine friendship and human relationship in general. They invite us to their playground – a place of violence and fragility where they “communicate” in a particular, unique way.

Expressing themselves just by uttering primordial sounds they roar at each other like primitive Stone Age men. This expressive voices together with the sound of colliding, falling, clashing bodies create a musicality throughout the whole performance. They act out the animal nature of man, ruthless and shamelessly, pushing the boundaries of personal privacy and intimacy.
They carry each other, give support, and in the next moment they drop the weight of the body and start hitting each other with a flicking belt. Ampe and Garrido are looking for this contradiction inherented in friendship containing affection, encouragement, rivalries, frictions, expectations, and disappointments.
But they are not only playing with each other, they also play with the spectators. Especially Guilherme Garrido sometimes acting out the “entertainer”, addressing small comments directly to the audience. Barbarous ripping of their t-shirts, they bare their breasts, and finally undress completely after running with superman socks and superman under ware put over the head like superheros over the stage. After getting rid of their clothes, a acrobatic choreography of pulling the others penis, the symbol of masculinity, disturbs the audience. Silent moments of pure physical presence allow the audience to breath again. We see the naked bodies entwined in abstract absorbing positions, a completely different body image is constituted.

The distasteful sharing of sweaty body fluids, and extreme rough brutal contact, is creating both amusing enjoyable excitement and enthusiasm and also discomfort. It makes us think about our voyeuristic position towards the performance. It is not fake what we see, they bring themselves in real dangerous situations which could cause serious injuries. Watching becomes a quite physical, emphatic reaction. The two performers bring themselves in highly precarious positions that we want to turn a blind eye to, but in the same time we start to laugh about it. The discrepancy between this shocking physical reality and humorous perspective creates a capturing tension.

At some points the apparent willingness to self-mockery starts to drift into illustrating comic strip characters, which leads slightly away from the richness and depth of the performance.
Nevertheless, it is a surprising, candid and playful choreography, a test of the emphatic potential of the audience,a bit of gender criticism, an attempt/experiment dealing with the presentability of human relationships.

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