Viktor Černický, PLI at Summer ReCollection, Ljubljana 2021. Photo © Andrej Lamut


Viktor Černický

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In PLI, Viktor Černický becomes the sole director of a rather unusual troupe of actors: a set of 22 chairs. Like in games of mikado and domino, he rearranges them with dexterity from jumble to chain to pile. Černický makes the chairs balance on top of each other like acrobats, mounting into risky constellations that make a fool out of gravity. All of this happens to a self-made soundtrack, a suspenseful drumroll that Černický produces while tapping and squeaking his sneakers across the stage. Through his act of dry and lonesome manipulation, we can’t help but project bodies onto these human-sized objects, beings with legs, bottoms and backs. And in the most graceless but amusing way, he displays these beings two by two in a variety of positions, a Kama Sutra of chairs.

Jonas Schildermans

Over the decades, the ‘chair piece’ has become a cliché of contemporary dance, almost a rite of passage for students and young choreographers. Viktor Černický’s PLI is definitely a chair piece (there are 22 of them), but definitely not a cliché. For starters, Černický himself, nervily shuffling about in dapper suit and squeaky sneakers, is more like a diligent stage assistant than a subject. It’s the chairs who are the stars here, whether lined up so that they can cascade as satisfyingly as dominoes, or piled high into patterns at once logical and gravity-defying.

The drama – and the humour – come from the constant uncertainty that Černický will fulfil his duties in arranging the chairs, because all their patterns are precarious; because chairs obey physics, not people; and because Černický’s own floor-wobbling presence heightens their instability.

It’s low-key, oddly touching, and very refreshing to see a piece in which humans are not, for once, centre stage.

Sanjoy Roy