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Flash Review, 5-2: Everybody out of the Pool
Treading water with Kinkaleri

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2006 The Dance Insider

PARIS -- Technically speaking, it wouldn't be just to critique Kinkaleri's "Pool," seen Friday at the Centre Pompidou, strictly for its dance content; the presenter lists the event as 'theater.' The PR indicates, however, that the Tuscan collective is 'multi-disciplinary,' so how about we say that as theater, "Pool" confuses absurdist with the merely absurd; as music it's null; as visual art I'm not sure what it's doing at the self-proclaimed largest home of modern art in Europe, in the company of Picasso, Matisse, and Duchamp; and as dance, while the movement is competently made and energetically executed, it's undistinguished and indistinct.

Most of all, after starting a list of objects and other tricks that should be banned from the stage (if only to force choreographers to fill the void with actual ideas) -- wind-up animals top my menu, but miked floors (I did my best to make Kinkaleri regret this one, coughing more than usual from the 'pool'side seating and thus making my contribution to the sonic ambience) aren't far behind -- by the end of the show I was left asking: What exactly in this work indicates any degree of study? For what, if anything, that I'm seeing here was it necessary for the artists involved to go to school, to train, to learn their various arts? I'm not just talking about the lit candle in the naked butt of one of the two male performers that greets us as we enter the theater, but about most of what transpires. How is an education in the theater suggested, for example, in the act of picking someone out of the audience, taking them behind a screen and announcing into the mic, "I'm about to hurt you"?

If "Pool" offers visual moments that temporarily pique one's interest -- such as that in which a man assiduously stuffs various-sized play-balls into new wine glasses -- they don't stick, and they certainly don't cohere into any kind of canvas, narrative or abstract.

I am no literalist. Indeed, I believe that there is a beauty in the abstract in that it frees us from familiar orders and narrative forms to enter the unique order of the creator at hand. I don't need to be able to make sense of that order -- to be able to explain it, to own it. But I need to get the sense -- as one does, for instance, in the spectacles of Pina Bausch or, if you like, the compositions of Charles Ives -- that there is a proprietor behind the work. The mantle of absurdism does not excuse the artist from the obligation to be rigorous, just as the forum of a modern art museum does not excuse the curator, here Serge Laurent, from the obligation to apply a standard beyond n'importe quoi.


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