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Magazine

15 February 2013
La Ribot: the body as a compass

Imma Prieto

After the first few minutes we find ourselves asking, what is it we’ve come to see? After going up the stairs and taking a seat in one of the halls of the Mercat de les Flors, everything points to the fact that shortly the evening will feature some body or other. But instead, without any prior warning, the screen lights up. Little by little we enter into the projected space; we’re not entirely sure if it’s a theatre, a gallery or a warehouse. It’s also not clear how we’ve accessed the space. What is the perspective? Who, or what, is directing our gaze?

Already staged on previous occasions, Llámame Mariachi, is the piece, by La Ribot, that has been chosen by the Secció Irregular of the Mercat de les Flors to open this season’s programme. The work, divided into two parts, is made up of an audio-visual and a sort of stage exercise through which the artist-choreographer, accompanied by two other interpreters, radically changes the rhythm of the proceedings. La Ribot manages to play with time and space, carrying out an analysis of presence and the beholder.

In these first video-graphic moments, La Ribot creates and confronts us with a first paradox: everything happens rapidly, the movement of the camera movement, the path travelled. The change of body, however, will come later. Each time the camera changes body, it marks a new rhythm. Our access, on the other hand is slow, we don’t know how to structure the proposal, how to categorise it, where to place ourselves in relationship to it. We locate something like an old theatre. But the journey doesn’t stop and we move through other physical places and bodies. Objects, remnants, rags, lights. Always an interior space and a body. We begin to identify the camera with the body that guides it. It’s here, here, that one finds this sense of estrangement. What marks the pace is not the eye, as it is situated on a lower level. The camera-body shows us everything that unfolds with its movement gliding through an almost anonymous place. This camera-body emerges from the entrails: rapid movements, the wobbles caused by the meandering hand-held camera. The eye, that isn’t actually an eye, is situated in the stomach. It is from there that the camera marks and reveals. A curious reflection, bearing in mind that we’re talking about bodies and the possibility of apprehending by way of tactile perception. It’s not just about placing the camera at stomach height and beginning to record, it also talks about a form of knowing and doing something from another place. Displacing and dislocating. There is no other orientation than that offered by the body. At some points we are shown an arm, a leg, or a foot, that always pertains to the body that is filming. In others, we pursue the actions of a third party. La Ribot manages to carry out a reflection through movement and perception. The recording, conceived as a single sequence shot, opens up the debate about the camera, understood as the subject. About this id that was proposed at the beginnings of video art.

In the second part, the rules of the game change. The bodies appear on the stage; the rhythm shifts. Time and space in the here and now. This time, we are all in the theatre. The three interpreters carry out a sort of delayed parody through an iconoclastic action. A series of titles by major authors from universal literature are read out loud. The action, with a touch of Dada, also plays with a certain corporal clumsiness, provoking a form of temporal dislocation. To confront presence, La Ribot decided to manipulate time, creating movements that habitually originate in the use of technology.

Assuming some of the definitions that define performance, that is body, space and presence, Llámame Mariachi makes it possible to talk about a conceptual displacement. The piece distorts places and time in a masterly fashion through the camera and the body. It triggers questions akin to what Merleau-Ponty proposed regarding corporality and perception.

Imma Prieto has for years been marking out three paths from which to reflect about the different contexts that characterise our contemporaneity. Criticism, curating and teaching enable her to think about and establish dialogues from different perspectives and with different objectives, looking for bridges between them. Her research has revolved around performance and video, languages that both arose in the dawn of the sixties that is, in the last years of modernity. Is it because we don´t really know where we are now? Conclusion?

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