Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen
Coming into yourself, learning how to be and not apologising for all that you are – light or dark – is as hard as hell, and that is what Cold Hawaii attempts to show us. More performance art than dance, this is a puzzling character piece mostly held together by the sheer dedication and strong presence of its performer and creator, Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen.
Like a creepy porcelain doll coming back from a rave party, she roams the stage, exploring the most unattractive depths of her own mind. Dressed in torn yellow and black leggings mismatched with a dress made of doily-like fabric and a race car jersey, she moves as in a fishbowl. She sings, wails, swears, has vacuous conversations with people who aren’t there, all the while attempting to find flow in her movements. After much verbal emptiness, her voice eventually finds its clarity, paving the way for the body to give into freedom.
Danish choreographer Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen resides in Amsterdam where gastronomical experiments dish out whisky-bacon ice creams with a hint of kiwi. Cold Hawaii is like that avant-garde dessert: highly bizarre yet astoundingly rich in flavour.
Wave sounds and pulsing tones herald a turbulent solo, violently stuck between amusing clubbing, explicit erotic gestures, and excentric aloofness. She roams in resolute strides one moment, stumbling into hesitation the next. All the while we witness her internal conflicts, both in words and sound. Dressed in a contextless cacophony of colours, her capricious gaze keeps drifting likewise between fear, wonder, and a thurst to devour. All alarmingly mesmerising.
The mere idea of ever having such vile outbursts of dissonant voices inside myself makes me shiver. Fortunately, I am on the safe side of fiction. Hilarious and terrifying, this is the kind of retreat that lures me in – a ride on a tide towards tripping ecstasy.
Although the show has barely begun, you get the sense something significant has already taken place. That Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen is busy processing, perhaps with the hope of repairing, damage previously done.
Dressed in an assortment of materials, reminiscent of women past and present, Mathiassen doesn’t just rent the large empty stage, she owns it. A series of rolling, repetitive body undulations, hands pressed out before her (in defense or defiance?), come to a stop as she inserts one, then two, then all four fingers into her mouth. When they reappear, an inky-blood coating sparks questions in our minds, which only multiply as the piece unfolds.
Dance gives way to performance art as Mathiassen becomes increasingly verbal, twisting between confidence and insecurity, bold sexuality and naivety. This brief solo is a light smack to the face, rather than an emotional punch to the stomach – but, with time, Mathiassen will most certainly get there.
When Sigrid Stigsdatter Mathiassen invites us into her pleasure palace, it slowly becomes clear that it’s not always her happy place. With wide eyes, hair clipped back and hockey shirt modified with long scalloped hem, she looks every inch the twisted Nordic pixie. Her striding, purposeful entrance ends centre stage with a faceplant – clearly the outfit doesn’t come with wings.
Undeterred, she reaches skyward, arms and body moving in time with the soundtrack’s cresting waves. Swaying like kelp in a current, her whole body undulates as she stalks around the bare stage, her vocalisations layering eerie on top of hypnotic.
Sucking her fingers, black gunge trickles from her mouth and we’re entering new territory. Mathiassen’s body undulations climax in full-on thrusting, the usual cries and some unusual ones too about broken heart and broken dreams. The white stage flashes red – cigarettes after sex – but with more pain than passion, Cold Hawaii is no honeymoon spot.