sisterhood practice

The Sculptresses

The keyword in The Sculptresses, by Polish group sisterhood practice, is ha. At first it’s a measured melodic exhalation (ha… ha…) by performers Weronika Pelczyńska and Monika Szpunar, that chimes with the easy music drifting in and out of the room. We’re seated on all sides as the pair, in blocky tan and orange outfits, take turns adopting the pose of female statues while the other names its maker (all are nineteenth-century women), and its title: ‘Humility’, ‘Lady with Kitten’ and suchlike.

As they play out the iconic poses, lifting each other up and switching each other around, their statue-selves increasingly come to life, and to laughter: hahahaha! Finally they embrace fleshily, all stone and statuary forgotten as they pant in sated, post-coital outbreaths,: haaaa… haaaa…

If the initial setup and overall dynamic sometimes feel a little wooden, there’s a real sense of achievement by the end. Pygmalion was a female statue animated through the ardour of her male maker, but sisterhood practice deftly outmanoeuvre maleness altogether, to embrace each other. Ha!

Sanjoy Roy

Sculpture and dance go hand in hand in The Sculptresses, continuously reshaping each other. Polish performance group sisterhood practice take on the refreshingly intriguing challenge of choreographically bringing to life works of pioneering 19th-century sculptresses T. Certowicz, H. Bertaux, A. Rozniatowska, M.Gerson-Dabrowska and C. Claudel.

With the audience seated 360 degrees around them, only a black, square-shaped podium and their rhythmic ha-ha chant, Weronika Pelczyńska and Monika Szpunar repeatedly take turns embodying various sculptures. Limbs intertwine and muscles clench. Utter tenderness, mutual trust and a lot of piercing eye contact fuel this duo’s seemingly unbreakable artistic bond. Putting to the test the plasticity of their bodies, the show becomes an intimate celebration of feminine creative energy. It would surely benefit from being staged in a museum, as the TMS Orchestra Rehearsal Room’s ambience doesn’t completely fulfil its needs. Nevertheless, striving to create a bridge between past and present, The Sculptresses sparks an interdisciplinary dialogue worth taking part in.

Daria Ancuța

The intriguing rhythmic laugh of The Sculptresses two performer’s starts off comedically, and as we are introduced to the piece’s central device – recreating the work of pioneering nineteenth-century sculptresses with the body – it turns into a chant, and finally a moan. This functions well as this piece’s thread, and Weronika Pelczyńska and Monika Szpunar’s commitment to this peculiar battle cry never dies down.

The recreation of the sculptures sometimes happens through mutual manipulation and other times by rubbing the skin as if it were clay – a progression that is intriguing, but unfulfilling. The piece’s final act abandons the central premise and turns into an intimate embrace between the two performers, which transforms their generous energy and presence into something which is only about them.

A quick online search about the sculptures will reveal the immense and inspiring skill their creators possessed; this piece feels shallow in comparison.

Francesc Nello Deakin