Melodies are so far my best friend
Performance, 75 min, 2019

Notes for Melodies are so far my best friend by Tom Engels

I. Song

If we were to sing today, what would we sing? Bertolt Brecht asked himself: „In the dark times / Will there also be singing?/ Yes, there will also be singing./ About the dark times.

II. Self

Without addressing particular political or social themes and tropes, PRICE delineates through his doing the principles of our contemporary existence. One is full of one self, one is flat yet deeply intense, one is self-reliant, yet one’s behavior is predicted and calculated, one loves trash as long as it is designed. 

III. Theatre

PRICE lives the theatre of a techno-social world and embodies the torment and the pleasures of schizoid and paranoid psychological patterns. PRICE’s earlier works separated acts and personae from one another, forming a kaleidoscopic landscape of different modes and sets of performing. Melodies, on the contrary, acts in one endless stretch of modulation, manipulation, and blow-ups, putting forward a sophisticated understanding of (inter-)personal dynamics where motivation and purpose are obscured and obfuscated.

IV. Fabric

1. ”cloth produced by weaving or knitting textile fibers“ 2. ”the walls, floor, and roof of a building“ or „the basic structure of a society, culture, activity, etc.” Origin: Late 15th century from French fabrique, from Latin fabrica‘ something skillfully produced‘, from faber‘ worker in metal, stone, etc.‘ The word originally denoted a building, later a machine, the general sense being ’something made‘, hence fabric (sense 1 mid 18th century, originally denoting any manufactured material.) Fabric (sense 2) dates from the mid 17th century.

If the world were to be a fabric, how would one move through it, how would one wear it? Penelope was weaving, faithfully awaiting Odysseus‘ return home. „A burial shroud for his father Laertes – it must be,“ she thought. Being a wife means being a weaver, and so her fabric kept her suitors away. Weaving during the day, she was undoing the weave at night. At once a tissue to protect, an activity to wait, a ruse to keep new lovers away.

V. Blow-up

1966. Thomas, a professional photographer, takes a walk in the park, camera hand-held. Away from the artificiality and sexiness of his studio activities, bored of London’s buzz and endless fashion shoots. Herbie Hancock plays in the background. In the distance, Thomas sees a man and a woman embracing. They kiss. Thomas hides behind a tree and tries to capture such image of spontaneous love. When leaving, the woman notices him and insists on him handing over the film. Refusal. She follows him. They hang out in the studio. They kiss. He tricks her by handing over the wrong film. She leaves, satisfied. But then, in the dark room, another truth reveals itself. Blowing up the images of the film, Thomas discerns a man in the bushes and a body on the grass. The blur of vision. The blur of the pre-pixel. Did he photograph a murder? What does one truly see in the full depth of an image? The depth of an image, indeed. The life of the studio, indeed. Amidst an ever-changing landscape of fabric and texture, PRICE is always covered, then again pretends to be revealed. The images are never what they seem to be. In its most literal sense, they give life to the old ‚praetendere‘: to extend in front, to spread before, to stretch out. The fabrics are moved, body and fiber entangled, forming image. An image performing itself in the gloom of the studio light.

© Reto Schmid / Beursschouwburg, Festival Performatik Brussels Belgium, 2019

In this era of over-consumption, where acceleration and insignificance rub shoulders, language often takes on reductive and normative meanings. PRICE – a hybrid character, created by Mathias Ringgenberg so as to take on a wide variety of perspectives – suggests that we explore his interstices thanks to performative musical actions, alongside the producer Cecile Believe and the pianist Sebastian Hirsig. In this new piece, he animates the performance space with the following questions: What are the identities of language today? What identities are made possible through language?

Arsenic – Contemporary Performing Arts Center, Lausanne, 2019

Music and performance PRICE
Music production Cecile Believe
Piano Sebastian Hirsig
Light and camera Mirjam Graf
Stage and costume design in collaboration with BARRAGÁN
Dramaturgy Tom Engels
Movement research Isabel Lewis
Photo Reto Schmid

Co-production Arsenic – Contemporary Performing Arts Center, Lausanne, Tanzhaus Zürich, Life Long Burning EU

This project is supported by Pro Helvetia, Swiss Cultural Foundation and Foundation Nestlé pour l’Art and the Creative Europe programme of the European Union