Our senses collect information and process it as iconic memory for visual, echoic memory for aural and haptic memory for touch. Some of it makes it into our short and long term memory. But do the sensory receptors retain any data in the long term? Does our muscular system store information about every movement we do?
The Camden Arts Centre is hosting ‘In the Face of Overwhelming Forces‘, a multimedia immersive collection of Joachim Koester‘s works spanning the last twelve years of his career.
In ‘The Place of Dead Roads‘ four performers revisit the customary, if not stereotyped, movements of actors of the Western genre with duel-like circling and drawing of guns. These are not strictly related to the scene, but are drawn from the pool of memories that their muscles have retained. Their broken and flighty actions are therefore both familiar and surprisingly alien to the actors themselves.
The Vaudeville actors of ‘Maybe This Act, This Work, This Thing‘, a 2016 film shown to the public for the very first time, are engaged in a much more unsettling fight for survival, made more painful because we already know the outcome. The arrival of the motion picture at the beginning of the 1900s is threatening the need for stage performers. Words have been replaced by the mechanical sounds of the machinery associated with the projection of films in cinemas.
A third film, ‘Ghost Mantis‘, follows the precise movements of a praying mantis camouflaged by leaves; a reminder of how familiarity and complacency can easily be a recipe for disaster, whether you are an insect or a human being.
There are countless themes running side by side in Joachim Koester’s works. Through physical theatre we are shown human resilience, nature mimicry, a determination to embrace, but also to fight and re-shape our nature, and ultimately mental illness and the fragility of life.