Figuring Age portrays three elderly dancers from Budapest, aged between 90 and 101. The work consists of a durational performance and a two-channel video installation running simultaneously in separate spaces.
In 2015, choreographer and performer Boglárka Börcsök had the chance to meet several elderly dancers in Budapest. Wanting to work with some of them and knowing that their age would make it impossible to bring them back on stage, Börcsök and filmmaker Andreas Bolm decided to create a documentary called The Art of Movement. It portrays Irén Preisich, Éva E. Kovács and Ágnes Roboz, who were once part of the early development of modern dance in Hungary. During the filming, Börcsök’s role alternated between dialogue partner and dance student to stimulate the elderly dancers’ bodies and memories. The physical engagement continued during the editing process. Börcsök and Bolm watched the footage again and again to study the gestures, movements, and personal stories of Irén, Éva and Ágnes. The three ladies entered Börcsök like ghosts and she began to perform them. The embodiment of Irén, Éva, and Ágnes is a continuous work of transforming and becoming – a Vertigo. The aging body does not contain only one body. Rather, it is multiple bodies layered in time and decay, in memories and experiences. In Figuring Age, Börcsök interweaves the stories and memories of the elderly dancers with their everyday gestures, postures and dance movements, tracing how the three women changed their lives and movement practices to survive the sociopolitical shifts of the 20th century. The slowness and fragile heaviness of their bodies demand a different economy of attention, giving visitors space to rethink and negotiate their relationship to aging and death.
In a separate room, the two-channel video installation reveals the elderly dancers in their private homes. The stillness of their rooms, filled with personal objects and memories, becomes the scenographic backdrop for their dynamic performances on screen.
Performer, artist and choreographer Boglárka Börcsök is interested in how memory and history are embedded into gestures and movement, and how it conditions both the materiality and representations of the body. Her work departs from personal encounters, archival and historical research and the practice of listening and looking. She frequently uses voice, facial expressions and minutely composed embodiments. As a dancer and performer, she has worked with a multitude of artists including Ligia Lewis, Kate McIntosh, Joachim Koester, Tino Sehgal and Eszter Salamon, with whom she collaborated on several projects within Salamon’s acclaimed MONUMENT series. Börcsök is currently developing new works with filmmaker Andreas Bolm. The Art of Movement(2020) was their first collaboration. The film premiered online during the lockdown hosted by Pact Zollverein, Tanzquartier Wien & MMpraxis and was invited to the 7th Budapest International Documentary Festival.
Filmmaker, sound engineer and producer Andreas Bolm is living and working in Germany, Hungary and France. His films portray people in their social and familial environments, examining the fine line between documentary and fiction. Ròzsa (2000), The Sleepers (2003), Jaba (2006), All The Children But One (2008) and School Files (2012) have been screened at many festivals worldwide. Jaba was presented at the Festival de Cannes in 2006 and was awarded for best documentary at the Zinebi film festival in Bilbao. In 2009 Andreas attended the Cinefondation Residence Festival de Cannes. His first feature film The Revenants was premiered in 2013 at the 63rd Berlinale, Perspektive deutsches Kino and presented at the MoMA in New York. In 2014 Andreas was invited for a six months’ fellowship at the artist-residency Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart where he developed his second feature film Le Juge(2016).
Concept, direction, production: Boglárka Börcsök and Andreas Bolm
Performance: Boglárka Börcsök
Cast: Éva E. Kovács, Irén Preisich, Ágnes Roboz
Light and sound: Andreas Bolm
Video editing: Andreas Bolm and Boglárka Börcsök
Camera: Lisa Rave
English translation: David Robert Evans
Video’s production manager: Elisa Calosi
Video commissioned by: Montag Modus/ MMpraxis
Video founded by: Tanzfonds Erbe – an initiative by German Federal Cultural Foundation, La Musée de la Danse, Rennes, Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa, Berlin
Performance supported by: Die Irritierte Stadt Festival of Arts, Montag Modus/MM Praxis, Collegium Hungaricum Berlin, PACT Zollverein Atelier No.63 – Platform Experimental Platform for the Arts, Hellerau – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste – Residency Program, Neustart Kultur – an initiative for the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media as part of the support program DIS-TANZEN, an Umbrella Association for dance in Germany. Part of the work was developed in the frame of the performance exhibition „20 Dancers for the XX Century” by Boris Charmatz/Terrain. The introduction speech is based on Jacques Derrida’s reflections on ghosts in Ken McMullen’s film Ghost Dance (1983).
Photo: Andreas Bolm
Visit in collaboration: Cultural Center Stoa
Visit supported by: Liszt Institute – Hungarian Cultural Centre, Helsinki & TelePART / Finnland-Institut in Deutschland