The artist is present. The art is about those who aren’t. In Michikazu Matsune‘s new work All Together, the Vienna-based Japanese choreographer, joined on stage by Elizabeth Ward and Frans Poelstra, deals with absence, encounters and remembrance.
MAYA, RUBY, TONYA: names are projected onto the back wall as the performers discuss who these people are and why they couldn’t make it to the show. In Matsune’s signature minimalist style, the rules are crystal clear, leaving space for humorous details and nostalgic anecdotes to emerge out of the simple structure. The dry architecture of the work is sprinkled with goofy dances and casual chatter to keep things flowing easily.
With each new name, we gain a piece of information about the story-tellers, and as the recollections get gradually more vivid, including mimicking gestures and imitating voices, the revelations also get more intimate. Childhood friends, family members and estranged lovers are remembered, but so too are random strangers and art world celebrities. Biographical stories meet obituaries in a meticulous exploration of togetherness, or perhaps a new form of yellow pages poetry. Eventually the performers’ own names appear on the screen: they recall their first meetings (Matsune shares his impressions when seeing Frans dance naked 14 years ago on that exact same stage, while Poelstra re-enacts the nude solo), their mid-life crises and philosophical beliefs (they all join Elizabeth in her techno-witch-ballet practice) and quirky individual ways of thinking (Michikazu eats a burger and proceeds to skip around the stage, suggesting we imagine it bouncing around the room in his body).
As they call out names to see who’s around in the audience (‘Do we have an Andrea in the room?’), we are invited into the web of connection they weave between themselves, those who are here, and those who aren’t.