A project by Antonia Baehr and Latifa Laâbissi in a visual installation by Nadia Lauro:
In Consul and Meshie by choreographers Antonia Baehr and Latifa Laâbissi the figures of two chimpanzees occupy a base camp that resembles the inside of a limousine. The installation designed by visual artist and set designer Nadia Lauro forms its own autonomous artwork, that the two furry, promiscuous, impertinent monkeys occupy for the duration of the performance. The spectators are invited to be a part of the landscape, sitting or lying down on the floor, next to the vehicle that spreads into the space. Consul and Meshie are actual historically documented monkeys that lived in the beginning of the 20th century and that were raised like human beings. Monkeys, and in particular apes, are considered “almost human” animals, and this “almost” has made them a surface for projecting that which is considered human by other humans. By using their figures, Consul and Meshiedoes not strive to be a biography of these two apes. Instead, their figures are hybrid and queer composites blended with layers of poetic, anthropological and political references that create their own story. The work explores the relationship between nature and culture, the idea of domestication, and questions of marginality. Donna Haraway’s research on the relationship between feminism and the figure of the monkey or gorilla inspired the work. “Consul Baehr” and “Meshie Laâbissi” represent hybrid figures examining the violence of assignations and stirring up chaos in the categories of nature vs. culture, man vs. woman, and the self vs. others.
Performer, filmmaker, visual artist, and choreographer Antonia Baehr is interested in the opposition between humans and animals but also in elements in representational space. As a choreographer she moves in the realms of everyday fiction and theatre, working at the edges of that which defines us as human beings – placing us via a voluptuous see-saw in critical positions. Besides choreographic elements, Baehr is interested in the rules and laws which a society assigns to bodies, to make them recognizable and comprehensible. Baehr has collaborated with multiple artists, such as Neo Hülcker, Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, and with many others who are interested in the changing of roles: from project to project, each artist is alternately the host or the guest. LAUGH by Antonia Baehr was part of the programme of Moving in November 2009.
Mixing genres, redefining formats, the creations of Latifa Laâbissi bring on stage a special kind of off-camera layering of figures and voices. The use of voice and the face as vehicles for certain states became irrevocably entwined with the danced act in Self-portrait camouflage (2006) and Loredreamsong (2010). Then, continuing her examination of the theme of the archive, she created Écran somnambuleand La part du rite (2012), based on German dance of the 20s. Pourvu qu’on ait l’ivresse (2016), cosigned with the set designer Nadia Lauro, consisted of visions, landscapes, and images in which we see excess, the monstrous, the beautiful, the random, the comic, and fear. Since 2011, Latifa Laâbissi has been the Artistic Director of Extension Sauvage, an artistic and pedagogical program located in rural areas of Brittany. In 2016, a monographic book about her whole work was published at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers and Les presses du réel. In 2018, she created Consul & Meshiewith Antonia Baehr in a visual installation by Nadia Lauro. They also gathered together in 2019 for the video Moving Backwards by the duo Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz, presented in the Swiss Pavillon of the 58th Venice Biennale. In Summer 2019, the Festival de Marseille welcomed the première of her creation White Dog, a choreography for four performers. Until 2019, she has been an Associate Artist at the CCN2 – Centre chorégraphique national in Grenoble and at the Triangle – scène conventionnée danse à Rennes.
Nadia Lauroisa visual artist and a set designer. She has conceived set designs, environments, and visual installations with strong dramaturgical power, thus generating new ways of seeing and being together. Lauro has collaborated with the following international choreographers and performers: Vera Mantero, Benoît Lachambre, Emmanuelle Huynh, Fanny de Chaillé, Alain Buffard, Antonija Livingstone, Latifa Laâbissi, Jonathan Capdevielle, Laeticia Dosh, and Jennifer Lacey with whom she co-authored numerous projects. She has developed scripted environments in museums, theaters, and art galleries in Europe, Japan, and Korea.
Concept and Interpretation: Antonia Baehr, Latifa Laâbissi
Visual Installation: Nadia Lauro
Figures: Antonia Baehr, Latifa Laâbissi and Nadia Lauro
Sound and Light design: Carola Caggiano
The languages spoken in the performance: English, French, Arabic, and German
Adminstration & Diffusion: Alexandra Wellensiek / make up productions & Fanny Virelizier / Figure Project
Design Game “French Theory Memory”: Hilà Lahav
Coproduction: Figure Project / make up productions and HAU Hebbel am Ufer (Berlin), Le Magasin des horizons (Grenoble), CCN2, Centre choréographique national de Grenoble, Xing/Live Arts Week VII (Bologna)
Supported by: Hauptstadtkulturfonds and Senate Department for Culture and Europe.
Thanks to: Vinciane Despret, Donna Haraway, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Melanie Poppe, Rayna Rapp, Constanze Schellow, Emilia and Kathrin Schlosser, Mia Sellmann, the entire team of HAU Hebbel am Ufer, Jean-Yves and Danielle Auvray
The performances in Helsinki supported by: NATIONALES PERFORMANCE NETZ International Guest Performance Fund for Dance, which is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media
Visit supported by: TelepART Mobility Support Platfrom & Finnland-Institut in Deutschland, TelepART Mobility Support Platform & Institut finlandais, Institut français de Finlande, Goethe-Institut Finnland and German Federal Foreign Office.
Visit in collaboration: Kunsthalle Helsinki
Photo: Anja Weber