Prologue: Mantras for a Club
Stadtgalerie Bern, CH
Bodies are places of affects and emotions. As subjective as they feel, they are always political and part of a circular, cultural economy of emotion. They are not to be located simply “inside” or “outside.” Rather, they create the very effect of boundaries between bodies and worlds, as Sara Ahmed writes in her post-phenomenology of emotion. How do emotions move between different bodies? How do they create connections between one subject and others and against others?
PRICE is a fictional character who appears in various performances. His work is characterized by elaborate soundscapes, costumes and stage design often developed in collaborative constellations. His productions play with the audience’s expectations of the exposed, ostensibly authentic self of the performer, who emotes before their eyes. They are interspersed with pop-cultural set pieces, mechanical sounds, rhythms and his own singing voice. The voice forms a central element of his work. PRICE views it as an acoustic form of emotional communication outside language’s imperative to create meaning.
In PRICE’s work, different spaces—each with their own economies, mechanisms of historization and exclusion, norms and potentials—overlap: the stage of theater and performance, the club, digital space, the fashion runway, the exhibition space. The drama known as PRICE unfolds against the backdrop of spaces divided into their individual, constituent parts.
His performances alternate between total immersion and the abrupt unmasking of the means of theatrical staging. Part of this involves the emotional work that has to be invested in order to maintain the fiction of the performer’s individual identity—a genuine expenditure that is always also an effect, like the artificially shimmering sweat on his forehead. These are not the irreconcilable oppositions of artificial and authentic around which he moves. Rather, PRICE is interested in the conflicting relationship between these socially normative categories, the realm of which is the (queer) self, the (queer) body.
Misfit costumes reference a variety of other possible forms of wearing by different bodies; instances of stumbling and struggling sneak into PRICE’s work. For him, failure is always also part of a queer strategy: an indifference to assimilation, rigid identities and the demands on the self in digital capitalism. It is a second-degree failure that is always part of the presentation.
The exhibition Prologue: Mantras for a Club at the Stadtgalerie opens up acoustic landscapes. The performing body is absent. Present only through voice, it searches for new spaces, alliances and resonances among visitors: a game of access, proximity and volatilization. As prologue, the exhibition is the first of a series of performances entitled Mantras for a Club to be presented at the Neumarkt Theater in Zurich and the Arsenic in Lausanne 2021.
© Reto Schmid
Music composition and production in collaboration with:
Cecile Believe, Sebastian Hirsig, Tobias Koch, Modulaw
Curtain design in collaboration with:
Olivia Bertschinger, Paolo Mereu
Scent concept in collaboration with:
Theater Neumarkt Zürich