The Love Piece
with and by Alice Chauchat, Ana Achimovicz, Nino Bokan, Pravdan Devlahovic, Oliver Frljic, Zvonimir Kvesic, Ivana Pavlovic, Ivana Roncevic, Nina Sakic and Una Vizek (2007)
... I felt like people felt really touched because they have this really nice date; everyone has his own date and he could really feel that he's appreciated, he has the attention of somebody, so it was really nice to be inside. And... And yes, it was also a hard task to just keep silent and look into somebody's eyes, whom you don't really know. It was a really nice experience and I want to thank you thank you thank you
... I sort of expected the whole protocol because of the number, I knew that there were 8 performers and we were 8, so in a way I was expecting that, and the title too. I discovered in a way another thing while I met this guy whose name I don't know, who seems to have also been through things, but this I don't know, it's a mystery for me. I think the main thing I keep is that I feel it's very interesting to be confronted to yourself as a desiring, living thing or person. So it talks a lot about the show for me, about which relationship I have to an interpreter or someone who's working on stage. I use him as an auto-ping-pong or something like that. It was very clear in this frame of the love piece because I was always responsible of the nature or quality or the emotions or physicality I could either receive from I don't know where, or produce. So this I was interested in, because it's an individuation thing I like, it's about desire and how I travel in the world; it's also catastrophic because I hope I'm not only projecting things on things! That’s important. But the field of landscapes I go through is very wide, it goes from basic sexual interest to an absolutely existential, human, biological, almost original thing, so that's quite good but I also heard people who said "oh for me it was nothing, I just looked how the eyeballs were", but I feel it's so personal, everybody uses his own language to fill in the protocol you propose. The relationship I had, if it's a relationship, I still don't know, was very peculiar because I felt a bit fucked. Because I don't trust him. Because he's working. And I work and when I work I give things, I give signs and sometimes I produce things which… I do language things; it's language. So at some point I couldn't really know if these things, eyebrows doing this, mouth doing that... this I don't know if it's included in the relationship or just producing signs so I always feel trapped in my own interpretation of things, why should this be a seduction thing or why should this be something about love. But still I'm interested in this way of searching how to produce desire, a desire that can be super basic but that can also be a desire of generating myself, or understanding a bit of myself
... I thought it was great. I had a quite intense meeting, although it felt like I didn't really meet her but maybe more my memories. I could fill it in a way, or she could fill it, she could fill whatever purpose I wanted, in a way. Nevertheless it was quite specific, it was very connected to love. It was very connected to love; it was very sad, and also very lovely. And she was great because I felt that she didn't play me but she went wherever I went. So it was not that she was in control, actually I was in control, but she would follow more. Of course, there's a structure to it, she had a way of doing it and an idea of what it should be, maybe, or how it should proceed, but I think she was extremely attentive to what I was going through. And I almost cried, but I didn't. I think what happened was a lot my own, yes my personal history is what made it happen. And at the moment I’m very connected to my personal emotional history, which is why I think it happened. And it was shocking when she left me. It was extremely abrupt and she just said thank you and she stood up and she left. And it was like suddenly it was just abandoned. But it's funny because it was not at all the thing that was between me and her. It was just something that was between me and whatever. She was there and she fulfilled this.
... I felt very at home, just looking into someone's eyes that I didn't know it's kind of strange, but not so hard. After the 1st song I thought "ok, what now? Maybe they will dance or they will show something else", but after 2 songs I thought, "ok, relax”. This is all and it's enough. And now afterwards I feel very good, many thoughts and many impressions inside.
... I came in, we all came in, and it was so interesting that she chose me because I knew the rest of the people. We sat down and I was like "ok, it's cool", and the song started and somehow I felt relaxed but also very sensible and it was a really, in a way beautiful moment for me. I was really touched and somehow I felt also a bit disturbed because I was so touched and lot of people were around me in a way, but she was there and she grabbed my hand and we watched each other. In a way she comforted me and it was a really nice moment for me. And after a while we started to talk about why this came out for me and what would I like to do to feel more relaxed and good in this position where I am. We started to speak and get to know each other and I felt more connected with her also. Somehow it ended so soon for me. So it was, in a way, a beautiful experience for me.
... I felt uncomfortable at the beginning; I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to talk or not; in the end we started talking; I was uncomfortable again when we stopped talking; I started to think about love, about my love affairs and about love in general; in the end I realised that the performance was about loving, that the performer’s task was to love the audience and that it didn’t matter if the audience responded or not
... I didn’t know what the performance was about; I expected something a little bit more abstract. I was worried about understanding it or not; most of the time I don’t understand it. Once seated I needed some time to relax. I can’t relax when someone stares at me like this, even if this person is very close to me. But actually I didn’t realise that 45 minutes had passed, it was like a kind of instant closeness. I realised that the performance was about discussing and closeness or something like that, but I was not sure what it was about exactly. I don’t know if I reacted as I was expected to, because I didn’t know anything about the performance. The idea of the performance is brilliant but I’m not sure if I’m the right person for it; I’m not really an emotional person and I don’t like that kind of physical contact. It was harder for me to get involved. But I had a super partner; I hope he didn’t have a hard time with me. And that’s it.
... At the beginning it’s really strange because you don’t know how to react. When somebody watches you so intensely, you need to respond to this but in the same time you feel uncomfortable to look into a stranger’s eyes. Step by step you relax. In the end you start to give back what you receive. It’s impossible how you start giving back love to this person who you see for the 1st time. This person holds your hand so tight, and you automatically start to squeeze this hand. A thousand thoughts run through your mind, about your own life, and you apply them to this person here. In the same time you think about the people in your life and how you think they would react, and how you react. It’s impossible, that person to whom you’re giving love is a stranger.
... For the first 5 minutes it was shocking. We didn’t know what we should expect, what was to come… So I didn’t know, should I … Or was she supposed to read me, my face, was it a psychological analysis, how do I react to all this, I thought it was all made up in advance, I didn’t know it was me who was creating the script, but later on, with this music and her gaze, and with a little bit of concentration, when it didn’t matter anymore what people around us were doing, then it was fabulous, I could realise that she felt a great love for me, which was great because during the whole time all my boyfriends, friends, mom and dad and all people in life who love me ran through my mind… and it’s beautiful and I’m thrilled. Although it’s very individual and I really think it’s great how you deal with all this, but it’s even better all the people one runs into, I don’t know what she was to me… I know that in fact it’s up to us, but she made it, she convinced me that she loves me, that people around me love me. So I’m still under shock… so it’s great
... it was very pleasant. I'm very happy I took part. for me this show is a meditative expression in which people seat facing each other, expressing to each other personal feelings and impressions, with eyes and gestures. That goes on through the whole show, and in that communication the emotional component is dominant. Because you can really see only with the heart. What is important is hidden to the eyes.
... 3 days ago my friend and I went to see the love piece. We didn't know what to expect. We expected to sit and the show to be onstage surprisingly we were dragged by a performer. We sat and some easy love music started playing. it was a little uncomfortable, but it was ok... very good idea... after the show we went out very satisfied and spoke about it for the rest of the day. in the beginning i wondered why I was feeling so uncomfortable and strange that someone would be looking at me like that, with such romantic music, but eventually we had a pleasant conversation and in the end of the show i was feeling better. I'm only a bit sorry that the love stopped after the show. After all it was very amusing and I would recommend it to everybody.
... a very interesting and impressive day. what i liked was the complexity of the situation. the fullness of intensity of the experience parallel to an intriguing concept. This work opened a lot of levels that I could keep thinking about and probably I will, I'm just doing it. 2 lines that somehow come out for me. That is the question of politicity of the work, and with that I mean the position of the audience, the performer/audience relation, in a way let's say some kind of equality comes up, actually the moment when the audience is responsible for creating the performance. ok, we're coming into an artificial frame but in the same time how the flow will be from A to B depends mostly on the spectator, who in my case was completely drawn into this performative situation, so in a way I was a performer. This relation between performer and audience and their equality interest me a lot. What also made me think is the close encounter of theatre and, so to say, a real-life situation. where is the border, where does theatre become the other, when does it overcome this situation, does it overcome at all, or is that situation artificial from the very beginning? these are some questions for me to think about, and it's a super complex thing in such a simple idea. such a big swing of intensity, in a full experience. it's a dual situation, there is a performer-audience situation, and in a way a dialogue, a duet between the two, and parrallel to that there is a performative situation with other couples. What interested me was how my attention was moving from this performative duet to another performative situation, how we influence the others and of course, vice-versa. This parallel was what interested me very much, the existence of this so-to-say isolated little duet within the whole performative situation.
... we were waiting outside of this room, a group of about 10, and then it was time, we were ushered into this small room and as soon as we entered the room, a woman came up to me and took my hand, very nicely, very direct. And I thought that she was going to take me to where we were sitting and that the performance continues but then I realised that she was bringing me to sit with her, I saw 2 chairs next to each other. She kept holding my hand and then I quickly realised she's taking me in and then I quickly realised that everyone had had a similar thing where someone had come and taken them to a set of chairs. She had a very wet hand but very firm hand holding my one hand and smiling completely into my face. that made me smile back and settle in to what was going to happen, although I didn't know what it was. and then we sat there together, she kept holding my hand and smiling into my face and I smiled into her face and I smiled into her face and she smiled into my face and more and more and more
... in the beginning I felt ashamed, I didn't know what to do, it was really weird, i had no idea what to expect or what i should do. 1st i just sat for a bit, not to feel ashamed anymore, i relaxed, and then i started picking on my partner, i started to bother her, to explore what i can do and what she's going to do or not. then i was a bit bored and i listened to the music and i started singing. The whole process was just like a great relaxation, just sitting there and enjoying this person opposite me, getting closer to her even though i had no idea who she was. i was singing to her for a bit, that was very good, and then i felt a strong urge to hug her, that was really strange because it's a completely unknown person, someone i have never seen in my life. and now when i see her out of the play i feel closer to her than to other people that i know
... I was sitting in this chair with this partner. she just looked at me all the time looking into my eyes and holding my hand. at some point i thought "this is weird". about the piece: It gives you a space for questioning yourself about reality and if love is real or not, if people are being real or not, so many questions about reality that really moved me at some point. after 10 or 15 minutes, because you also loose the time, you don't know anymore what is happening, i felt her hand and then i tried to make it more real, more real than this because it's a performance in a way, ... so then i started feeling her hand and said what if i give you reiki, and it was funny because i just couldn't resist giving her reiki , you know, i know it's a performance, i know it's art, but i need to give you reiki, please let me, and she said of course sure no problem. and that was very good for me because it made it real in a sense, whether she was being real or not didn't matter anymore.
... when i came in, there was only one person i really knew and that person came toward me, and took my hand. i sort of looked around and i knew, i saw these people around in the room, that was a bit surprising that he came and took my hand but since i knew him a little bit, it didn't seem like a stranger coming to me, i wasn't alarmed or anything. but then when we sat down and i realised he was gonna hold my hands and look at me, then i was a little bit uncomfortable for a while because i wasn't sure what was happening and there was this song playing and i thought, well, how long will this last? it seemed like maybe 5 minutes would be good! and i realised after a while that i was sitting in the chair but my toes were on tiptoe, and i was leaning forward a little bit and he was holding my hands, and sometimes he was looking at my hands, sometimes he was looking at my eyes, i was laughing a little because it was this guy who had taken a workshop from GI and it seemed funny to be listening to this music and looking in his eyes. When i realised it was gonna go on and on and that perhaps it would go for half an hour, i decided to settle in, i noticed my toes and i relaxed a little, and i just observed his face and i thought i'd just look at him. and then i became aware it seemed like he was almost on the verge of saying something so inn my mind i framed it as i was waiting for him to say something. i had the impression he wouldn't actually say something but it was like in this moment, and i started making this story that he just wasn't ready to say something, but i could wait for as long as it took for him to be ready to say something. So i was just watching and he was blinking fast, and i was laughing sometimes and sometimes looking away and every once in while he looked at my hands but there came this time when we just were looking at each other's eyes and didn't stop. And this started to change a little for me and then I had a strange paranoid notion that everyone in the room had turned to look at us , and that there was some kind of trick or fix that whoever went with this guy would be, it would be some kind of joke on them at a certain point, not necessarily a joke but the way that the story would go is that everyone else would tell their partner to turn and suddenly this would be the performance. but I didn’t want to look away to see if that was the case, there was this tension inbetween not wanting to look away and… I was in this position of honoring this gaze somehow, so I didn’t want to look away but I was fearing for a moment about this… then I realized noone was looking at me, except him! And so I just relaxed back into this moment . it was sort of like the last rope that was holding me back or something and… it’s really impossible to explain but suddenly I just felt this enormous sense of love for him . it was weird, because I had been focusing on this idea of love, and what if this guy here loved me, or what if I loved this guy, who I didn’t really know, but not taking it too seriously, mostly it was just this working on this moment of looking, and just sensing this possibility, a little bit wondering what could happen or if there would be some progress in any direction.. some body would do something, people in the room were laughing or, I saw someone put their arms around each other, so… then there was this opening up and I have this flash of, this great feeling of, a sense of love but in a large way, not with this person but this large idea of love, and then… then I felt a sadness, because I somehow linked it with a possibility that was sitting between me that this would never actually happen here now, that it wasn’t possible, which caused me to remember 20 years earlier when I had broken up with someone and I walked into our house and I found him with his head on the table crying, so i got really sad. I was trying not to cry but these tears were coming in my eyes and there was just this moment that I was lost and now there was no time and I was just here, I was just here with him and there was nothing else except these songs were also reading into it. So some of these notions might have come from a song because sometimes words of the songs were triggering, and so my eyes were filling a little bit, I was trying not to cry and there was just a little change in his face, just like a tiny muscle. And he looked just a little like, “what’s wrong?” but it was so small, it was really slight, and that just seemed really beautiful at that moment. so then i was crying more, inside!I guess I just had this feeling of... it was this notion of love that was beautiful but really tragic and really inevitably sad and beautiful at the same time
(...) i don't know, maybe it would have been different if it was a male, perhaps, i don't know,but i felt like there was a friendship with the person that i was doing it with. But then it was just sort of like ok so now what do we do, now that we've established that we're sort of friends and sitting there, just holding hands, it didn't really make sense to me for anything further to go, but nowhere it could go... i guess i probably didn't want it to go any further or anything .... I think i ended up with a friend in the end...
... it really crushed me completely, because of 2 things. the 1st thing was that it brought up questions for mer, questions of lack of love, and the 2nd thing that crushed me completely is a question of disappointment in what is theatre can propose
... the most remarkable thing for me was the emotional and psychic movement that i experienced. especially at the beginning, it was completely unexpected and very strong to establish a physical contact with someone i didn't know, and to be psychically and spatially so close. The 1st part was mainly this internal energy moving vigorously, i could feel my body temperature was rising, i was sweating a bit. As i softened into this emotional state, it became more mellow, more easy to handle, and then it was ... once that had happened, once i was more calm, a lot of questions started coming to my mind, mainly about what it is really to love or to be in love or to give love; at some point it seemed that the experience was completely real but it wasn't entirely, because it was within a formal setting and there was some sort of convention between me and the performer so in this sense it couldn't be real but in the same time every other love experience outside somehow seemed to also rest in these conventions. so for me, the other interesting part, after the experience itself in terms of sensation, was this question of love as a convention. and it would seem like it's mainly some decision, and in that sense it's something that exists only as a self production. so at least in some degree it would seem to be imaginary
... the person in front of me was just giving me something and i didn't know how i could receive this love and how to make it comfortable if i don't know what it is actually. after 15 minutes, with these songs and music, i started to think about myself and about my past and i started to ... it was somehow strange because i felt that i was looking at myself in the mirror, and it's probably the same feeling when you meet someone on the street and you open yourself because you are an object and this person is also an object, you don't know her or him, and then something super banal can open your heart
... we were gathered. i was one of the last people to come in, so i saw everyone else having someone take them in. then a young man grabbed my hand and smiled at me, it was very nice, and then we went in and sat down. the door was closed and my expectations started to be shaken because i saw that we were all just going to have this space for each other, and the man that i was with closed his eyes, the door was closed and we just sat there with this chair with a little sound device. and then nothing happened, so i was a little confused for a while, but because his eyes were closed i didn't feel like i needed to connect with him so i started to look around to see what else was happening. i saw everyone holding hands and looking at each other (...) and then i started to feel that maybe something was wrong or off somehow, i didn't understand because everyone else was getting connected. and i wasn't connecting. and i really wanted to get connected. i was sitting like this for a while and he was kind of sitting away from me with his eyes closed and then finally he opened his eyes and turned them toward me and our eyes met and we just looked at each other. and then we sat there for the longest time. and at some point i actually wondered if he was a performer or if he was another audience member like me, because it was so strange. it was like if we weren't quite in the same space for a while, for a long while. and so we just kept looking at each other and it felt like it was almost a game, and in my peripheral i could see that everyone else was still connecting and touching and it just seemed softer than my experience. and so my expectations all of a sudden were up here when i wanted a lot more out of the experience. eventually, because i wasn't getting anything, i finally offered my hand. we shook hands, in a very manly kind of way, and we held hands for a moment, but then that became awkward too, so then that broke. and then i was confused again. we sat there and most of my experience was just looking at him in the eyes, so my experience was of wanting more. because we weren't talking and at one point, as a performer i also felt maybe some of the anxiety that he, if he was indeed a performer, might have been going through, so just to let him know that i was ok with everything i put my hand on his shoulder and we breathed together, and that was a good moment. so there were just these small moments of some kind of comprehensible connection that were good for what they were, but they were like big jumps. so there was: the long pause at the beginning, then there was the 1st handshake, and then later on, the shoulder, and somewhere in between there was music playing and so i felt like dancing. but there was no way to go from the last thing that we did to all of a sudden dancing even though that's what felt right. so i think i wanted a lot more than i got. but then finally towards the end, as we were looking at each other, he just put out his hands like this. so i put my hands in his hands and he squeezed them and held them very genuinely. so that was probably the highlight. and that lasted for a little while, and then that broke as well. then it was just more eye contact, and at the end of the last song he just got up and he left. i liked that, because even though the experience itself somehow felt incomplete, by just leaving it, whatever experience i did have felt complete once he left. there wasn't any question anymore once he left, my experience was what it was, and for what it was it was good.
... and so the 1st 5 minutes, there was that sort of discomfort about trying to determine he structure of this performance that i was seeing. And then at some point i heard other partners talking and i thought perhaps they had a script that my partner and i didn't have. But i'm actually pretty comfortable with awkwardness and so i was happy to wait to see if something other than this event was going to happen, or if there was going to be some performative elements. but then at some point i realized that this was the event, and i actually liked that, the time that we had to discover, for myself as a kind of partner to a performer, to discover the structure of this piece, and to determine that it wasn't necessarily "performance" but it was more experience. And i think it's about that time too that she stood up and we danced, which is what we did, for the performance, or for the time, the half an hour. And i thought that was really, in some ways, very... i used the word moving before but it was very profound, it was very real for me, that experience of these 2 people who had never met before and perhaps would never meet again, could have in this kind of structure, with 9 other people sort of having that same experience in a close room... the setting of the experience was very important in some ways, in that it worked despite that setting. I mean, everything was sort of controlled for us, there are lots of variables that have been eliminated, decisions have been made before she and i have got together, what might happen, in terms of: we would be 2 people sitting together in chairs, some of those decisions had been made but then, after that, anything could happens, perhaps, with limits. that was so important to me, somehow, it made me feel very human, it made me feel in some ways cared for. and the title of the piece is love, and maybe, i don't know that that is love, in some ways because it was set up as there are these people performing, and we came to an event, it felt perhaps more like a commodity, that you were offering a service to the people, as performers. in some ways that distanced itself from love, but with imagination i think i could think of it as love. but what it does for me is that it speaks about the power of love, that even though you can meet someone for the 1st time and perhaps never meet that person again, you can have an experience that could be likened to love. in contrast to, you know, my wife and i, when we met, it was love at 1st sight, i knew that, i really thought i could spend my life with this person, and we didn't even talk, i just saw her in the room, and then i thought about her the next day, and eventually half a year later i met her. then when i got to know her i didn't really like her, so it took us another 10 years and then we finally got married, and now we've been married for 20 years, so we've been together for 30 years, and now we love each other. and part of it is, you can have this short half hour experience and experience something that's really powerful and real, perhaps like me seeing my wife for the 1st time and seeing her across the room, thinking "hum, nice person", and maybe love, but the commitment is not there. now, the interesting thing about this performance that the way it ended, that the people sort of just bolted out of the room, that sort of represented this other un-commitment to it. but it didn't negate the feeling of love. and that's a really powerful testament to the word love, or to the idea of love. but the other thing that lacks i think from the performance, is that the being able to process didn't happen, you know i couldn't call the next morning, she didn't give me her phone number, ..... maybe it's almost like sex, it's maybe more like sex than it is like love, in the fact that it can be a commodity; you are providing this service for people. not that you are prostituting yourselves, but in some ways it's the same kind of thing and you wonder , if you have sex with a prostitute "oh, was it good for him, or for her as it was for myself?" and we never know the answer to that, and not knowing the answer to that means that it distances itself from love because the dialogue is missing. i sort of regretted that i couldn't talk to her later, or never will perhaps.