DFS, DFS: On a Sticky Stage (…rehearsing, not knowing what for) (2019)

On a Sticky Stage(…rehearsing, not knowing what for)


I am alone. I am many. Taking[1]walks in a lot surrounded by a wall built along its perimeter[2]. Face-to-face with 66 acres of emptiness,I would sneak in through a hole in the fence; the abandoned field has developed into a rich biotope of plants and animals – in the middle of that poor southern periphery of Madrid. The plants meandered along the traces of a torn-down military barracks; the openness of the space with its trees and flowers contrasted with a dense background of 1960s workers’ housing, empty factories, and broken bottles left by other occasional visitors. Nesting partridges and balancing red poppies side by side with the echo of a military regime,[3]the paleness of postindustrial neoliberal city lights and the financial crisis. I desired others to be here, to make art, to enjoy this strange beauty, to propose a counter presence. I wanted to digin those sands of oblivion, together, I wanted to formulate an experience in continuous present. Many walks, many years. All my attempts, all my hands, all my movements were not enough. I was profoundly disoriented, I could not be there alone, I did not know what to do. What I knew seemed not enough. I needed help. No motivations to name, no intentions to want in this landscape of violence, longings, ideologies and crisis.


Being lost, I wandered off to theperiphery of Romein the 1960s, to watch hawks with a sharp vision and cheeky sparrows[4]– in a site for the marxist crisis of the time. Via Benito the Weepy, unemployed. Via Antonio Pasta-Eater, street cleaner. Via Lillo Sheet-Tearer, Runaway at age 12. No Dumping. Private property. Travelling Shows.[5]Father and son walk through the landscape, trying to accomplish some daily duties that turn into epic endeavors, as their steps lead to a nude horizon, to nowhere. A talking black raven stares at me. Getting help at such a site might be unsettling.


A sage

A knower

A moralist

A philosopher

A sage on drugs

A lovable beatnik

A poet who has nothing to lose

A figure of Elsa Morante[6]

A Bobi Bazlen[7]

A sublime and ridiculous Socrates

An anarchic Indian Raven

A Marxist Raven

An autobiographical figure

A metaphor of the author

At the end relief and sadness


Along the way different signs[8]indicate distances. Cuba or Istanbul. The first conference of dentists for Dante; they appear as elements of orientation in a filmic landscape, they make us aware of the interdependencies of pasts and apparently far-away affairs.


Moving on, I find myself on the de-territorial site of exile. Suddenly I am surrounded by Greek artists in New York City in 1974;artists attempting to overcome more than 7000 km that separated them from Greece, their friends and families. Against the naked and raw background of a recording studio[9]they made a film[10]that ought to overcome that distance. A vehicle of solidarity against the military regime in Greece. A Brechtian-filmic reconstrucion of these events. There are banners, songs, music, a shared longing for connecting with something remote in time, in space, and in likelihood.


NowSticky Stagestarts to grow. A place to convoke many voices and glances in order to be at the same time in the vast territories of Madrid, Rome, New York and Athens; A Sticky Stageto think and feel insurmountable distances. Distances of unknown pasts we carry. Distances to the incomprehensible present we embody. Distances to a conceivable future we do not yet reach. In Sticky StageI want to access all the unbridgeable remoteness I feel around. Maybe these are the feelings and experiences my friends have been relating – crying from not understanding the results of far-away elections; researching and writing night and day, trying to comprehend the participation in a colonial past-present; desperation, to figure out how to contribute to the cultural-political life without speaking the language … Sticky Stageshould contain this awareness and offer a bridge – even one in flames – to larger scales and rhythms; night and day, moonrise and sunset, a slow daybreak…. Sticky Stagewill be a conglomerate of sites, dialogues, fears, times and bodies. An installation, an overnight performance, films, banners, sleeping together, smells,[11]sounds.


I finally enter the 66 acres of emptinesswithout a script but with a companion and a camera. I do not find paths to follow. I make my own signs to measure distances and give orientation. A spatial poem I loosely distribute across the emptiness and place the signs in-ground; my companion is a magician, a pre-lingual child, like the black raven that stared at me, a being that – like clouds – challenges the camera, not knowing what could happen, what movements will take place, what light might be thrown. The signs keep us grounded at this confusing place. A camera and its concerned cameraman follow the unpredictable movements of a happy-go-lucky magician[12]– at ease with itself and the forces at site.


A pre-lingual child, my magician, my version of the chorus in a Greek tragedy, to feel for all of us.


A tool to find

A lack of monitoring

A something with keys

A puppet with visible “hands”

A baby in Haute Couture

A magical thing

A pre-lingual seduction

A barely-knowledge

Valentino Valentina Post Partum Project

An unknown vision of life

A dancer around scraps of poetry

No end. Laughter. Singing. Feathers downwind.


The Magician, The Landscape, The Signs,three films materialized – distributed in space, next to and onto the Dawn Banners.[13]Large pieces of fabric that evoke the colors and temperatures of dusk and dawn, these bannersgive structure and softness to the space, carry poetic concepts,[14]serve as screens, break the light.


I formulate Sticky Stage as a rehearsal situation,[15]carried by live music,including poems, songs and texts mixed with a musical soundtrack.[16]An electric bass-guitar in dialogue with humble and strong electronics that slowly build up and create a musical space for the songs to be and to dissolve, a space where the voice can deliver the texts of the songs and poems, where different languages encounter and cross-fertilize. I stop performing from time to time and talk to the audience. To everyone I give a palm-size drawing made for this occasion, a gift without explanation.[17]


Surrounded by the magician, the landscape and the signs,I am in an enclosed space, not alone, but with companions, against a bare background – reaching out to other places.

We find ourselves embraced by a repetitive and slow filmic encounter with this place, listening, rehearsing not knowing what for,[18]trying to find criteria to understand and evaluate the act without being judgmental; feeling and treasuring the frame of given conditions.


Late we all lay down to sleep, fleeing endurance, changing attention, shifting reception,resting and dreaming;[19]sleeping and dreaming with art, Sticky Stageis a space in which collectively we might phrase a poem for future desires, being embraced by the friction between the I and the We.[20]


Repetition of the songs[21]. Repetition of the films. Reappearance of the very same and the familiar with difference, unfolding a space of strength and fragility. Sticky Stageis a temporary space in which to take up our fatigue and our dreams in order to approach a tender imagination. The long intervals of repetition carry a persistence[22]of bonding among the participants of a rehearsal and a persistence of the joy of making art.


Sticky Stage is a lullaby and a dirge, a funeral and a birth.


We will sing again the song, we will recite again the poem and the text and we will sleep in the same space, dreaming together.


Who will guard our dreams?






[1]Starting in the year 2000

[2]Antiguo Cuartel de Ingenieros. Former military headquarters for the acquisition of military material (1942 -1988), located in a southern district of the city of Madrid. This enclosed 66 acres area has remained empty for 24 years. A post-industrial landscape in which orientation is difficult.

[3]General Franco ruled over all of Spain for 36 years, from April 1939 until his death in November 1975.

[4]Uccellacci e Uccellini, an ideo-comical film by Pier Paolo Pasolini from 1966. The protagonists of this adventure get a companion, a talking black raven that claims to come from the land of ideology. The raven constantly asks them “where are you going?” and holds soliloquies on the situation of the world, all the while telling strange medieval tales.

[5]Street signs appearing inUccellacci e Uccellini.

[6]Italian novelist (18 August 1912 – 25 November 1985).

[7]Roberto „Bobi“ Bazlen (born 1902 in Trieste, Austria-Hungary, died 1965 in Trieste) was an Italian writer and publicist.

[8]Paradoxically, it is at the city limits, in the cold, gloomy space of housing schemes, industrial zones and supermarkets, that the signs are placed inviting us to visit the ancient monuments; alongside the motorways that we see more and more references to the local curiosities we ought to stop and examine, instead of just rushing past; as if alluding to former times and places were today just a manner of talking about present space.Marc Augé, Non-Places

[9]Since 1987, the location of The Kitchen, one of New York City’s oldest nonprofit spaces, showing innovative work by emerging and established artists across disciplines. The programs range goes from dance, music, performance, and theater, to video, film, and art, in addition to literary events, artists’ talks, and lecture series.

[10]The Rehearsal.A 1974 film by Jules Dassinthat is a cinematographic indictment of the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. The film focuses on the events of mid November 1973, during which students of the Polytechnic University rose up against the Junta, occupying the university; after three days of occupation the military burst in with tanks killing and maiming many students. Matthew Lyons, curator at The Kitchen, introduced DFS to Jules Dassin’s film, The Rehearsal.

[11]Perfume and essential oils among them. Molecularaesthetically Thierry Muglers Angel to delete and highlight gender and Primaveras Vortex to make being and staying pleasurable and more bearable penetrate all of us to give the stickyness a smell in an unexpended liminality. We used Vortex the first time in the Arena of Rita McBride in Kunsthalle Düsseldorf on May 30 – June 1, 2016.

[12]“What fascinates the audience about the animal´s appearance onstage is the sense of unpredictability. With the animal onstage reality invades into fiction, chance enters into order, nature into culture. When an animal appears onstage, it invokes a moment of crisis – similar to hurricanes and floods – in which everything is put into question and human order threatens to be submerged by nature. Unlike with hurricanes and floods, however, the anticipation that the human order will be destroyed – that the animal will suspend the mise en scène – seems far more enjoyable than the hope that everything go according to plan.” E. Fischer-Lichte, The Transformative Power of Performance


[13]The Dawn Bannersentered the work as part of exhibition The Rehearsal(Discoteca Flaming Star, Courtesy the Artists, and Georgia Sagri), June 25-August 1, 2014. Curated by Matthew Lyons. The Kitchen, NYC.

[14]  Dawn Banners: Wherever I travel Greece wounds me. Watching friends sleeping. Dawn in futureland. Ride diamonds. Sweethomechild. Time to rags and litter. Re-Hear-Sal. Sonic Banners: Accompany me, Judge me, Mean it, Advise me, Help me, Decide for me, Trust me, Demand me, Take care, Undo me, Look at me, Project me, Hug me, Suffocate me, Protect me, Lie for me, Get closer, Overwhelm me, Support me, Take me. The Sonic Banners enteredSticky Stagefor the exhibition at Kunstmuseum Stuttgart in 2015.

[15]In The Rehearsalmany documentary audio recordings of testimonies of Greek dissidents as well as previously filmed readings (of poems, letters, statements…) are shown to the participants of the film during its making; these recorded materials constitute the narrative ground, the structure, and support of a collective rehearsal of dissidence and activism.

[16]The Performance Sticky Stageis structured in four chapters. Chapter 1 starts around 8 pm and lasts until midnight, containing interpretations of Lana del Reys Videoversion of Ride, sung in part with the melody of Roxy Music´s Sea Breezes, alternated with 2 poems by the Greek poet Seferis. Chapter 2 leads to the moment of sleeping together in the space, singing the spiritual Motherless Child, Virgin Prunes Sweethome Under White Clouds and a lullaby by Lorca, Nana del Caballo. Chapter 3 was spending the night together, sleeping and dreaming, watching the films, listening to the music. Chapter 4 started with awakening, singing quietly Rihanna’s Diamonds. All together the performance lasts approximately 14 to16 hours.

[17]The strippers and the people staring at them touch each other by touching the same banknote in the same moment. No money here, but a drawing with no mandate.

[18]I, who was already as a child so suspicious of music (not because it removed me stronger than anything else out of myself, but because I had noticed that it did not take me back where it had found me, but deeper, somewhere in the unfinished inside), I endured this music …  Rilke, Malte(our translation).

[19]Sleeping: In the film The Rehearsal, two levels of narration cross. One is the narration of the filmic rehearsal itself (mainly assumed by Jules Dassin and Melina Mercury) and, on the other hand, the reconstruction of the recent historical events of the Polytechnic University in Athens. In both levels of narration a sort of interruption appears when introducing the moment of going to sleep. In the case of the first one, we see the participants of the film shoot leaving the location and going towards their homes or hotels. They appear bound to each other by the enthusiasm of those who are enabling something together of deep meaning – Cut – Dassin coming back to the shooting the next day, the clarity of the morning accompanies him and his thoughts along the streets next to the film location. Dassin’s off-screen voice tells us about the thoughts and deep emotions about the shooting of this film.

In the narration level of the event in Greece, there is a very disturbing scene in which the students are going to sleep in the spaces of the Polytechnic University. The images of the students’ bodies lying on the ground and on top of tables contain a filmic temporal impasse, in which the actual – already happened – deaths of students fallen in the military action of the Junta and the filmic deaths to come are both evoked. As viewers of Dassin’s film, we are asigned the task to guard the dreams of the students. In the two levels of the narration, the moment of going to sleep is introduced then as a moment of reflection and responsibility. Going to sleep knots the filmic temporality and its possibilities for dying, dying once again and performing the deaths of others. Here we encounter, at its peak, one of the highest qualities of this film: not being afraid of bathing in poetry, songs, enthusiasm and pathos.

[20]As Jean-Luc Nancy writes, “The sense of dance, the meaning of dance is… a sense that unfolds the senses, unfolds or releases meaning, the prenatal dance of that beautiful gesture…a wrapping around the soul, an invaginated vessel, and around it a deconceration of entrances and exits, of hearing organs, pupils, nostrils, of tactile and magnetic probes, the other tendons, extensor and flexor, soundbodies, dancers,” so Sticky Stagedeparts from slowly moving bodies and the totality of their possible and impossible touches, demanding all senses, swaying in and reaching for them.


[21]“To suggest that the words of a song don´t matter is plain stupid; they are the seeds from which it has grown. …

A song, when being sung and played, acquires a body. And it does this by taking over and briefly possessing existent bodies. The body of the double bass standing vertical whilst it´s being strummed, or the body of the mouth-organ cupped in a pair of hands hovering and pecking like a bird before a mouth, or the torso of the drummer as he rolls. Again and again it takes over the body of the circle of listeners who, as they listen and gesture to the song, are remembering and foreseeing.

A song, as distinct from the bodies it takes over, is unfixed in time and place. A song narrates a past experience. When it is being sung it fills the present. Stories do the same. But songs have another dimension which is uniquely theirs. A song while filling the present hopes to reach a listening ear in some future somewhere. It leans forward, further and further. Without the persistence of this hope, songs, I believe, would not exist. Songs lean forward.

The tempo, the beat, the loops, the repetition of a song construct a shelter from the flow of linear time: a shelter in which future, present and past can console, provoke, ironize and inspire one another.” John Berger, Confabulations

[22]“Much of my work is durational – offering the viewer a chance to stick with me in a shared space. Sitting here with you, I am thinking of that kind of sticky connection. Sometimes it comes from my desire to acknowledge that making connections takes a while. Or that it sometimes takes me time to share what I think because I seem to need more time to pull my thoughts together, and time is hard to ask for.” Julie Tolentino, Kia LaBeija & Julie Tolentino in conversation