This Here and That There – Herrenhäuser Quartet, 2018
A 3-day performance by Vlatka Horvat at KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen, Hannover
Photo: Helge Krückeberg / KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen | Hugo Glendinning | Tim Etchells
In This Here and That There – Herrenhausen Quartet, four performers arrange and re-arrange a set of 200 chairs in the ponds of the Großer Garten. Working in 8-hour-long stretches over the course of three days, they construct a vast range of temporary structures and arrangements. These oscillate between recognizable chair formations evoking different social situations, and the more abstract, formal or pattern-like constructions.
Each chair arrangement speaks of the ways in which the built environment makes possible – or impossible – certain kinds of encounters, and in which the organisation of space invites certain scenarios, narratives and metaphors to be projected onto it. Situating this activity in the water makes the chair arrangements readable as structures or patterns, allowing us to see them both as facts materialised in the water and as gestures that evoke a set of associations. The surreal setting of the water – at once serene and inhospitable – adds a sense of impossibility to the kinds of encounters being evoked, whist the continuous state of flux that the chairs are subjected to renders them un-occupiable, failing to provide a place for rest and stillness which they – as functional objects – seem to promise.
The project’s movement through a series of short-lived chair arrangements, and the performers’ laborious construction of proposals-in-action, bring to the fore a dynamic tension between change and stasis, order and chaos. Through its continuous unfolding in time, the work points to the instability of spatial and social constructs, invoking the restlessness, flux and search for solutions that characterise the contemporary social, cultural and political spheres. Performed in the setting of the Herrenhausen garden, where a sense of order and organisation of space are so strongly articulated, the piece raises questions about the mutually affecting relation between structure and order on the one side, and human presence, action and thought on the other.
This Here and That There represents a continuation of Horvat’s ongoing exploration of the human figure’s contentious relationship with everyday objects, landscape and the built environment. Using simple gestures such as building and un-building, dismantling and repairing, mirroring and re-arranging, Horvat’s work across different media – in sculpture, performance, collage, photography – frequently focuses on re-drawing borders and frames, and on re-organising or reconfiguring objects, the body and space itself. Her alternative propositions for spaces, bodies and objects invite us to re-imagine both the environment we occupy and social relations at play in it, and to interrogate what we deem possible within the structures that contain and frame our action.