to be possessed

Chara Kotsali

Tension, build-up, explosion, release – it’s a time-honoured dramatic arc, and underlies Chara Kotsali’s to be possessed, no matter how patchwork and cryptic this solo appears on the surface.

What is that appearance? A board on which Kotsali pastes bits of poster to form a collage of people possessed by spirits, faces upturned, bodies held down. Three pedestals, bearing a bowl of paste, a bugle, and a microphone and sound station. A yellow, straw-filled sack.

It’s not surface that counts here, but insides and outsides. Voiceovers recounting histories of demonic possession seem to speak through Kotsali’s body. The set becomes an amplifying chamber for miked thumps (poltergeist, much?), small pellets and an impressively long black tape emerge from Kotsali’s mouth. A voice repeatedly declares that “it’s coming-out night”.

What comes out in this climax is disappointingly undevilish, closer to rock- chick hair-flinging than exorcist ecstasies. If the come-down is cool (paint oozing ectoplasmically from the pasteboard), whatever possessed Kotsali to make this piece remains frustratingly unmanifested.

Sanjoy Roy

To be or not to be… possessed? That is the question.

Ritual and horror merge in Chara Kotsali’s solo séance. It aims to bring together the voices of `possessed` women throughout history into a polyphonic ceremonial performance. Acting not only as a medium, but also as a DJ using her loop-pedal, she mixes percussion noises and techno timbres to create a peculiar, yet piercing soundscape.

While trying to get in contact with spirits via different objects (trumpet, hay sack, photo collage), the search for the demons within gradually contorts Kotsali’s limbs and hips, triggering convulsive jerks. Her continuous headbanging gets progressively tougher to watch, and repetitive lip-syncing to interviews of women who talk about their bodies becoming prey for demonic spirits brings diminishing returns.

to be possessed taps into horror movie material, but it manages to create a different take on their usual exorcism tropes. Torso thrashing, and striding from side to side, Kotsali seems to reach a trance-like bacchanale – but it feels like a party for one.

Daria Ancuța

The battle between conceptual art and self-explanatory art has long since been lost. Idea and intention have won, as Chara Kotsali’s to be possessed shows.

Three pedestals display a bowl with glue, a trumpet, and a microphone with a loop station next to it. The glue is used to stick black and white pictures to a wall of more black and white pictures, and the trumpet is used sparingly to add to the cacophonous sounds made with the loop station. Kotsali meanders repetitively through the paraphernalia of her show, lip-syncs to interviews with “possessed” women while making half-hearted isolated shifts with her torso and arms, and pulls out metres of black tape from her mouth.

She ends the piece with a frenzied but unfocused dance that is backed by unbearably blinding lights.

Whatever meanings there are remain a mystery.

A roar of applause greets the performer as she bows – which put into question what my own dedication to dance means.

Francesc Nello Deakin