Liz Magic Laser, Handle / Poignée, Centre Pompidou, Paris. Performance and video installation, commissioned for MOVE 2018 Exhibition of Dance, Performance, Moving Image, June 7 – 24, 2018
In the main lobby and lower level of the Centre Pompidou Liz Magic Laser presented Handle / Poignée consisting of a performance, a film and workshops that proposed a political cosmology for analyzing and rehabilitating relations between liberals and conservatives. In recent years, we have seen the rise of the outsider politician and a role reversal in the personality type of our new leaders. Whereas the politician has traditionally played the role of a mature parent, he or she now takes on the role of the child. The interactive performance offers a personality analysis and treatment center where the public can learn therapeutic movement developed to treat four psychological types: the disciplinary parent, the nurturing parent, the obedient child and the rebellious child. Laser’s typology draws on archetypes from linguist George Lakoff’s Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think (1996) in which he uses a model of the family to analyze dynamics between politicians and citizens.
Upon entering the museum lobby, randomly select visitors were assessed based on their hand shake and other nonverbal cues. Laser’s performers function as somatic therapists offering movement as a vehicle for self-realization and betterment. After diagnostics are performed, visitors are guided to a soft sculptural set that used a Venn diagram to outline three spheres of experience: home, work and politics, as well as the relationship of each personality to these spheres. The set incorporates talismanic equipment for Laser’s therapeutic exercise routines: foam prop elements that resemble a bed, chair and podium. The performers used the props to demonstrate sequences of therapeutic movement developed to empower each specific personality type.
An instructional video installation on the museum’s lower level provided a practice space where viewers were guided through four exercise sequences with commentary that referenced personality testing used by corporations to maximize the efficiency of communication between workers. The video explores the potential benefits and risks of psychometric testing, echoing the recent revelations about Cambridge Analytica’s use of personality quizzes.
Expanding her political therapy work into kinesthetic territory, Laser collaborated with two movement therapists, France Schott Billmann and Mandoline Whittlesey, and a group of professional dancers. They developed choreography by engaging in a variety of movement therapy practices including Authentic Movement, an approach to dance therapy developed by Mary Starks Whitehouse in the 1950s, Body-Mind Centering® and methods based on tribal and shamanic dance. The psychological analysis and strategizing that takes place before encounters between world leaders also served as a reference point.
With dancers Lise Benoit, Carisa Bledsoe, Chen Yun-Chen, Célia Chauviere, Fabiana Gabanini and Martina Musilova. Developed through a process that included workshops with dance therapists, France Schott Billmann and Mandoline Whittlesey, and choreographic consulting by Cori Kresge. Director of Photography: Spencer Wolff. Motion Graphic Design: Common Space Studio. Costumes by Slow and Steady Wins the Race. Set and costumes produced with generous support from Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette, Paris.
Handle / Poignée was co-produced with the Centre Pompidou, Paris, Gulbenkian Foundation, Paris, and the Confort Moderne, Poitiers. Developed in partnership with ACTS and Micadanses. Project produced on the occasion of Talismans, Le desert entre nous n'est que du sable, Gulbenkian Foundation Paris, and toured to the Confort Moderne, Poitiers in October 2018.