Lecture Performance 'Baring or red herring?'



Lecture Performance 'Baring or red herring?'

Digital Anarchive 


The digital anarchive is ‘a repertory of traces’ and ‘carriers of potential, that are reactivatable, and their reactivation helps trigger a new event’[1] – as exposition. It is one component of the creative work developed within the framework of my Practice-as-Research PhD 'Being in Contact: Encountering a Bare Body'. This exposition is an invitation to view, read, scrutinise and listen to selected works and related research materials gathered in the digital anarchive.

The anarchive invites encounters and movements across spaces and times, activating curiosity and choreographic handling of materials.
My works discussed here in the digital anarchive perform a bare body as the carrier of socio-cultural acts (not the follower[2] of socio-cultural acts). Any cultural agency needs to be read within socio-political, ethico-cultural contingencies and contexts.

[1] See Anarchive – Concise Definition by SenseLab, a Laboratory for thought gathered around Canadians Erin Manning and Brian Massumi. Founded in 2004 and based in Montreal, the SenseLab is an international network of writers and makers, working together at the crossroads of philosophy, art, and activism. http://senselab.ca/wp2/immediations/anarchiving/anarchive-concise-definition/ [accessed January 15, 2018].


[2] Cultural followers – so called hemerophiles – are animals and plants that follow the humans – because of antropogenic changes – into cultivated landscapes, as they find advantages there, such as easy access to food (i.e. foxes, rats, coyotes, ravens…). I deliberately want to make the point that I see the artist as carrier not follower of socio-cultural acts and politics. In remote resonance to Wassily Kandinsky’s elaborations ‘II The Movement’, I recall his metaphor, where he describes that the artist ‘drags the cartload of protesting humanity after him, ever forcing it forward and upward, over all obstacles in his way.' See Wassily Kandinsky, On the Spiritual in Art, Hilla Rebay (Ed.), New York: The Solomon Guggenheim Foundation, 1946/1910, p.16.


woven from practices crystallized into works1


1 This is the invitation to inch along a timeline of my selected works –  a critique of the epoche of haste that doesn't make time for dwellings or the scent of time. Byung-Chul Han points us to the 'general shortness of breath' and drafts the affordance of fragrant crystal of time, which resonates with the proposition I make to dwell in the digital anarchive and drift from work to work - either along the thread of chronological time or across times. See Byung-Chul Han, The Scent of Time - A Philosophical Essay on the Art of Lingering, London: Polity Press, 2017, here p. 42-49. 


Video & sound © Arnold Haberl / →back to front← / performance: Mariella Greil.

Video stills © Mathias Brunner / skin / performance: Mariella Greil.

The circularity of hospitable spaces and related political-performative processes was most boldly manifest in the performance →back to front← (2005), where I addressed the audience by slowly walking towards and away from them for a durational time frame, too long to be comfortable, too short to erode the action’s significance, slowing the motion of both getting closer and creating distance, provoking and approaching, following the rhythm of breathing, modulation of gazes and tiny gestures between us.



Creating turbulence,


a gaze passed between us.

Is there another side to the subjective?

And how is it to be on this other side?

(Excerpt from the script →back to front← (2005) projected in light lines during the live-performance.)


I narrate the performance in retrograde, as this seems most appropriate to the titles instruction. Before the sound triggered through video-motion sensing (used software lloopp[1]) alongside gradual darkening of the light as the camera catches progressively black, the dancing, camouflaged body disappeared in dim. The progressive dissolution of the site of the body into dark matter interacts with the soundscapes creeping towards white noise fading over a long duration into silence and darkness. The music works in that sense as a magnifying glass or lens for the processes at work: the bodies dissolution and de-bordering. The soundscape is composed by the encounter of human body and algorithmic apparatus. Textual structures return in loops and become light, as they are projected onto transparent lines of hanged roles of paper that spread along the floor, indicating a pathway, a vanishing line in perspective. Before I walk the fine line between myself and the audience, I had been sitting nude, with my back facing front, the breathing motion of my lungs and the whole back filling with oxygen, synchronised with the movement of a ‘breathing’ light, the in and out of focus of an indecided slide projector, unsure what to focus on. There were short texts – fragmented lines of thought – the feedback collected from audiences of previous performances, projected as light, moving across the transparent skin of the paper screen in the speed of a typewriter written by invisible hands. Both, beginning and end of the performance were starting with feedback loops. When the audience entered the performance installation they were invited to feed the cello-machine, which was a prepared cello for creating sounds through touch (transmitted by the piezos attached to the instrument) or voice sent into the resonance body of the instrument. At the end of the performance the question lingers in space: Is there another side to subjectivity?


→back to front← was created in collaboration with the cellist Arnold Haberl (aka noid), performed at the Berio hall of the Konzerthaus Vienna[2] and came full circle (as a critical circuit) with the audience’s feedback sent by email back to us after the performance, if they decided to get involved. Those lines we received were projected at the start of the next performance in the beginning section again with a nude body, breathing, fragments of text passing by in an eternal return[3] (at least conceptually). This early work performed a nude body, but a bare attitude in terms of concept.[4] There were long silences, and holds, that revealed the gap between you and I, between change manifesting over time and social negotiation taking place in space.


[1] My collaborator for this work, Arnold Haberl, is part of the team of software developers for lloopp. For instructions on how to use the software see the available download: http://ppooll.klingt.org/index.php/Main_Page

[2] →back to front← was performed in the framework of a series I co-curated with Sylvia Scheidl entitled Superrouter. A temporary autonomous gathering in a two-week long lab at WUK, that was dedicated to experiments with an invited group of independent artist from both experimental music and the field of experimental dance. The participating artists also recorded a CD at Amann Studios, concepts and performances by Peter Brandlmayr, Mariella Greil, Arnold Haberl (aka noid), Jack Hauser, Sabina Holzer, Kerstin Kussmaul, Matthias Meinharter, Werner Möbius, Michael Moser, Jörg Piringer, Frans Poelstra, Sylvia Scheidl, Sonja Schmidlehner.

[3] Eternal recurrence emerges in a range of eastern philosophies, but also in Friedrich Nietzsche’s work as significant (even weighty) concept.

[4] For my elaborations of differences between nude, naked, and bare, see 3.1. The Triplet Naked-Nude-Bare: Tones and Shades of my thesis.


In my work skin (2004) baring and concealing take place at the outmost layer, where skin becomes the surface and the cover which simultaneously conceals the body and shows it. The folds, wrinkles and creases of the body smooth out. Skin is porous and breathes. It is the surface which separates and communicates between the internal body and external space, a physical and psychological place of transfer for perception. Skin is a storage place for memory and identity, a site of negotiation for ethical questions about exploitation, species, and cultural value systems. But skin is also a permeable membrane and a metaphor for the unstable limits of our bodies and existences.


video: Mathias Brunner

sound: Mariella Greil, Werner Moebius

performance: Mariella Greil

In 2004, I performed the tableaux vivantes Zakra in the frame of open space conference entitled Was ist Kunst? (What is Art?) in the chapel of castle Hernstein. Zakra was a site-specific intervention, staging a nude body. Velvet drapery reminiscent of Baroque times played at seductive contemplation of the female body, revealing a hint too much – given the sacredness of the catholic chapel space and the church’s moralism in relation to bodies and speech acts of women. A touch of celebratory candlelight and the scent of incense performed the function of slowing time, halting movement. Still-act, tableaux vivantes, with subtle, hardly discernible shifts of position. A video showed me dancing in nature, in the ruins and remains of an abandoned home, reconquered by wild nature. It was projected onto the skin of my back, serving as projection surface. One wit(h)ness at a time was offered a kneeling chair for her/his immersion in a nude body, facing away from the wit(h)ness. The durational performance took three hours. I recall having passed a variety of modes of being in contact – ‘behind my back’, so to speak – during this performance, though no direct mutual gaze was ever exchanged. Affects circulating in the sphere of the holy space ranged from coyly cast glances to penetrating looks. I sensed each wit(h)ness differently, each encounter entailing singular potential to shift the atmosphere of the space. There was a wide range of responses: from gentle and esteeming approaching of the performative situation to embarrassing profanation. I remember how the indirect, exposing relational density shifted in the space, in which moments intensity rose because of overstretched dramaturgical logics, constituting the place of the chapel anew, for another kind of contemplation than the prayers usually spoken at catholic church services.


‘One-to-one, Zakra stages the body, quieted by the still breath of death and reawakened in the artistic sphere of the tableau vivante. A site-specific work addressing churches and bodies and their complicated relation.’[1]


The aesthetics and traditions of the tableaux vivantes, which was a form of entertaining artistic practice cultivated between the 16th and 18th centuries, solidifies the female body into a pose. A living sculpture installed at the chapel, while Guillaume Dufay’s motet Nuper rosarum flores plays on the ghetto blaster. Terribilis est locus iste (This place is awesome). Terrible and awesome. This work addresses veiling and dissimulation and responds to the call of the chapel, its history and future. I attended to the relational differentiations of laying bare and the slow ontology of contemplation, while creating an impersonal intimate encounter with one wit(h)ness a time.

[1] Excerpt from program note, Hernstein, November 13–14, 2004. German original: ‘Unter vier Augen inszeniert Zakra den vom stillen Atem des Todes zur Ruhe gebrachten und in der künstlerischen Sphäre des tableau vivante wiedererwachten Körper.’ A site-specific work adressing churches and bodies and their complicated relation.’

Drawing © Walter Lauterer / Stage set →back to front←.

Video © Mathias Brunner / skin / sound: Werner Moebius / performance: Mariella Greil.

Photos © Werner Moebius /  Zakra /  performance: Mariella Greil.

Video & sound © Andreas Burgert / M.M.M. / performance: Mariella Greil.

This video was projected onto my skin, during the tableau vivant Zakra. A dance between nature and culture, the wild and the domesticated, between freedom and the ruins of a settlement, that was never completed.

Video: Kurt Hörbst / performance: Mariella Greil / sound: Alexander Wallner / Light : Bernadette Reiter

Trilogy comprises of three movement monochromes, each exhausting the variations of rotation, the turning around a fragment of movement, and thus creating the conditions for the emergence of a bare body.


During the creation phase, I coined the term movement monochrome as it seemed to capture the monochromatic quality of repetition and difference in the variations of each selected short sequence of movement. The three pieces (each lasting between 12 and 22 minutes) belong together, hence are held together by the brackets of the formal specification of their trichotomy. The first part s wish is a meditation on the torsional moment. Pivoting around the body’s physical, horizontal axis, which is turning around the vertical axis of the space, creates a spinning motion on the floor. An elaborate use of steadily shifting (weight, emphasis, dynamics, direction) is central for this work. Soundscape and movement were monochrome and durational in their insistence. I worked with both reduction and repetition as compositional tools, and pursued the synaesthetic fusion of bodyscape and soundscape. Each of the three movement monochromes unfolded a specific colouring, taste, rhythm and affective quality by repeating a microsequence of movement. The second of the tripartite sequence is lOUD (its German title is lAUT), a recurring ‘NO’. Apart from its meaning as an adjective (noisy, boisterous, unquiet), in German phonetics the noun ‘Laut’ is the smallest acoustically articulated entity of spoken language. In this part of the performance an articulated movement detail is singled out, amplified and projected. lAUT (in an inversion of case sensitivity) constitutes from focussed reduction, intensity through high sound density (noise music) and concentrated movement material, pinnacled to the turning point between atlas and axis.

lOUD has a particular affective quality both fragile and harsh at the same time. The third part of the trilogy, eavesdrop (lauschen) concludes the arc of the trilogy. eavesdrop reflects the gaze of the other framed by a gap. Light falling through a crevice illuminates what is concealed, the body parts, the skin, immersed in the shimmering of light and darkness, caresses the body’s outline. My starting point for developing this part was Hakim Bey’s sentence ‘Let's just say we are looking for patches of sunlight’.[2] For me the last part of the trilogy has a sense of surrender and tender resolution. I think of it as a poem, a dance moulded by warmth of body and soundscape in search of each other.


In the trilogy, each of the three movement monochromes performs a bare body. s wish reveals the exhausted bare body, in lOUD it is the resisting bare body, and in eavesdrop the dark bare body emerges. All three parts establish an apparatus that forces the body into repetition, into a movement assembling acoustics, visuals, and motion. The choreographic emerges as both operative and poetic.

[1] The translation of the titles from German original is difficult, since the nuances and connotations of language, as well as onomatopoetic intentions get lost or only partially carry over. The German original titles are: Trilogie: rausch n / lAUT / lauschen.

[2] See Hakim Bey, section 2. ‘Hermes Revividus’, in The Obelisk, http://www.t0.or.at/hakimbey/obelisk.htm [accessed January 25, 2018].

Photocollage © Mariella Greil and Werner Moebius / theorem trans radix /  performance: Mariella Greil and Werner Möbius.

Photo © Kurt Hörbst / s wish / performance: Mariella Greil.

Video & sound © Werner Moebius / outside the frame / performance: Mariella Greil.

Theorem Trans Radix was laying bare now moments of the creative process. I collaborated with Werner Moebius on an outdoor partita tracing each and every idea that comes to mind. In a three-month residency at the Center for Choreography in Hebron, New York, we obligated ourselves to unquestioning and unjudged articulation and collection of all ideas. We recorded every seed of an idea and the following developments, the lives of ideas, so to speak. Ideas popped up under the shower, in the middle of the night, or during working hours in the studio. In the partita, we meticulously tracked the shiftings, reworkings, developments, and editing that happen to ideas in artistic creation alongside the emergence of ‘now moments’ (see Stern, 2004, 2010).

Set-Up Image © Synes Elischka / Private Investigator’s Dream Machine / video: Synes Elischka / sound: Christian Schröder.

Video still © Synes Elischka Private Investigator’s Dream Machine performance: Mariella Greil.

Two cameras are set up at an exact 90° angle in a square or rectangle room filming the performer in the centre of the viewing angles of the two cameras, producing a stereoscopy.


The two video signals of the cameras are composited together in real-time and projected onto the screen in between the two cameras. The compositing of the double-perspective creates a duplication of the subjects (performer or audience) inside the installation making it possible for the performer to interact with herself. Where subjects overlap in the composite a new body is being created – merged from the two perspectives.



Video © Ramona Poenaru / pan y cebolla / sound: Werner Moebius / performance: Mariella Greil & Montserrat Payro & Tim Darbyshire. 

Image © Synes Elischka / Set-Up Private Investigator’s Dream Machine / choreography & performance: Mariella Greil / sound: Christian Schröder / video: Synes Elischka.

In the performance either or or and,[1] I investigated the gravity of the conjunctive words or, either, and. The laying bare of encountering a defaced other comes in continuous modifications. We explored the conjunctive tissue of vibrations passed between sound and movement, between baring and concealing, activating revelations amidst the noise of encountering. We worked along with Gerald Raunig’s statement that ‘In the new mode of modulation, you never stop beginning’.[2]

[1] The work either or or and was performed at Akzent Theatre in Vienna in a shared gala evening with other participating artists Rose Breuss, Andrea Bold, Max Nagl, Frans Poelstra, Chris Haring, Hilde Kappes, and Tanja Simma on October 5, 2009. For video documentation see: http://www.emilysweeney.net/eitherororand.html.

concept and dance: Mariella Greil, dance: Emily Sweeney, live electronics: Werner Moebius, cello, voice, analogue electronics: Audrey Chen.

[2] In German original: ‘Im neuen Modus der Modulation hört man nie auf anzufangen.’ See Gerald Raunig, In Modulation Mode: Factories of Knowledge, (Trans.) Aileen Derieg, 2009, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0809/raunig/en [accessed September 20, 2009].

Video stills © Synes Elischka / Private Investigator’s Dream Machine / live-video composite: Synes Elischka / choreography & performance: Mariella Greil.

pan y cebolla is a videowork for choreographed camera, which I created with the Mexican choreographer Montserrat Payro and the artist Ramona Poenaru.


The work was inspired by the Spanish proverb ‘Contigo, pan y cebolla’ (With you, bread and onions) which is equivalent with the German expression ‘von Luft und Liebe leben’ or French ‘vivre d’amour et d’eau fraîche’. The passionate undercurrents of this popular saying were the starting point for the collaboration between choreographer Montserrat Payro and myself. We were ‘peeling the onion’ to the point of tears, abandoned the many skins of memory, in search for the axioms of unconditional love. The work negotiated distances and proximities between bodies. The dichotomy between emptiness and hunger, the dilemmas emerging between language, body and desires came into focus. The theme for the video work – cannibalism – arose from in the midst of the flesh, radically desiring the flesh of the other, to the point of assimilation. Fleshly incorporation of unbound desire. We dreamt the cannibalistic fantasy of two women in solidarity. Death, food, aggression, sacrifice, love, and destruction revolved around the pivot of transformation. The work dealt with the human other and her otherness.


Collaboration on Video with Ramona Poenaru, Tim Darbyshire and Pavlos Kountouriotis. Excerpts of this work in progress were presented on September 21 at the Institute de Mexique in Paris & in Guadalajara, Mexico in the framework of Encuentro Internacional Nuevos Creadores a Escena, October 7–28, 2007. The video work was presented at various dance film festivals. This project was initiated by Sweet and Tender Collaborations/Skite, with the generous support of PAF and Mexican Foreign Affairs Secretary and National Fund for the Arts.

Video stills © Archive Mariella Greil / either or or and / performance: Audrey Chen, Mariella Greil, Werner Moebius, Emily Sweeney.

Private Investigator’s Dream Machine is ‘a perpetual reorganization of the body’[1] and emerged in contiguity to my preoccupation with an organless body as looming in Bellmer’s phantastic-realistic works around the anatomy of the unconscious or anxious body[2] and body anagrams.[3] When tracing the origins of the concept of the organless body[4] to the Theatre of Cruelty by Antonin Artaud[5], Stephan Günzel writes that ‘the fleshly, cruel images pulp and hypnotise the sensibility of the spectators […]’.[6] Private Investigator’s Dream Machine lays bare the neither natural nor artificial contact between performer and spectator, set-up and movement. Its techné is exposure, the in-between, negotiated between us, locating touch in the movement we make, the movement to come, surfacing on the screen. ‘The places, the sites of the existence of being, are henceforth the exposition of the bodies, that is, their laying bare […]’.[7] The creation of a work.station for spectators therefore made sense, as it invited the activation of exposure, opened up the possibilities for encountering bare bodies in becoming. The installation allowed an experience of a body always in forming, constant becoming, preceding organism or system. The set-up enabled the mutual creation of technical organs and spaces and was inhabited by new composite bodies surfacing at the skin of the screen. Sue Taylor resumes Hans Bellmer’s statements: ‘the affective images man creates of his body will not correspond to the reflection in the mirror’[8] and ‘mathematical processes operate not just in the abstract but in the flesh. The body participates in intellectual life’[9] when discussing ‘the fluid body image’, I feel resonances between Bellmer’s work and Private Investigator’s Dream Machine. In collaboration with Synes Elischka and Christian Schröder it was often discussed how body and algorithms can meet in the space of the installation, and how bare bodies emerge in the encounter with the audience, both in live-performance and mediated on the screen.

Below I add an example of the text we worked with during the process of developing the choreography and the installation.


The relevant fragment is the indented quote (my translation):


… place a mirror without a frame perpendicular to the image of a human body and slowly rotate or shift it while maintaining the right angle. The visible portion, with its reflection, forms a whole, the instinctive recognition of which is evidently less explained by the pseudo-organic of symmetry than by the intriguing and uninterrupted transformation. Because continuously, as the sections are enlarged and reduced, the double image swells out in bubbles, or flows like tough oil into its own axis of symmetry. It is absorbed by nothingness like the light which, pressed down on a hot stove, melts away in horror and does not see that its sinking, in which it mirrors, what it loses, so that this proliferation of positive or negative forms, captivating the eye to the uninterrupted exposing this phenomenon, and the whole question of reality, virtuality, and identity of its halves fades away at the very edge of consciousness.[10]


[1] See Jean-Pierre Dubost [alias Heinz, Jean-Pierre], ‘Wie soll ich ihr einen organlosen Körper machen? Einige Gedanken zu Bellmers Kunst’ in Heinz & Tholen (Eds.), Schizo-Schleichwege: Beiträge zum Anti-Ödipus, (‘How am I supposed to make her an organless body? Some Thoughts on Bellmer's Art’ in Heinz & Tholen (Eds.), Schizo-Hidden Paths: Contributions to Anti-Oedipus) 1983, pp.107–111, here p.109.

[2] See Sue Taylor, Hans Bellmer. The Anatomy of Anxiety, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002.

[3] For elaborations on synthetic processes of body anagrams see Marvin Altner, Hans Bellmer: Die Spiele der Puppe: zu den Puppendarstellungen in der Bildenden Kunst von 1914–1938. (Hans Bellmer: The Games of the Doll: to the puppet shows in the visual arts from 1914-1938.) Weimar: VDG, 2005, pp.123–146 and also Krassimira Kruschkova’s habilitation thesis: Szenische Anagramme. Zum Theater der Dekonstruktion (Scenic anagrams. To the theater of deconstruction), University of Vienna, 2002.

[4] See elaborations on Deleuze’s terminology Body without Organs (BwO), footnote 131, p.45.

[5] See Marc Rölli, Wie verschafft man sich einen organlosen Körper? Zur dialektischen Schlüpfrigkeit der Differenz (How do you get an organless body? On the dialectical slipperiness of difference), http://www.literaturkritik.de/public/rezension.php?rez_id=1617

[6] See Stephan Günzel, Immanenz. Zum Philosophiebegriff von Gilles Deleuze (Immanence. On the philosophy concept of Gilles Deleuze), Essen: Die Blaue Eule Verlag, 1998.

[7] See Jean-Luc Nancy, Corpus, Zurich: Diaphanes, 2007/2000, pp.78–79. My translation. In German: ‘Die Orte, die Stätten der Existenz des Seins, sind von nun an die Exposition der Körper, das heißt ihre Bloßlegung […]’. For elaboration on Being in Contact see 4. Being and Becoming, p.213.

[8] See Sue Taylor, ‘Pseudorationality and the Virtual Body’ in Hans Bellmer. The Anatomy of Anxiety, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002, p.101.

[9] Ibid., p.102.

[10] The German original reads: ‘… einen Spiegel ohne Rahmen senkrecht auf das Bild eines menschlichen Körpers zu stellen und ihn unter Wahrung des rechten Winkels langsam zu drehen oder zu verschieben. Der jeweils sichtbare Abschnitt bildet mit seiner Spiegelung ein Ganzes, dessen unwillkürliche Anerkennung als solches offenbar weniger aus dem Pseudo-Organischen der Symmetrie zu erklären ist, als aus dem faszinierenden der ununterbrochenen Verwandlung. Denn fortlaufend, wie die Abschnitte sich vergrößern und verkleinern, quillt das Doppelbild in Blasen heraus, oder fliesst wie zähes Öl in seine eigene Symmetrieachse hinein. Es wird vom Nichts aufgesaugt wie das Licht, das auf eine heiße Ofenplatte gedrückt, entsetzt unter sich fortschmilzt und nicht sieht, daß sein Untergang in dem es sich spiegelt, was es verliert derart, daß dieses Wuchern positiven oder negativen Formwerdens das Auge an die ununterbrochene Ausdeutung der Erscheinung fesselt, und die ganze Frage nach Realität, Virtualität und Identität ihrer Hälften ganz am Rand des Bewußtseins verblaßt.’ See Hans Bellmer, ‘Das Kugelgelenk in der Puppe’ (The ball joint in the doll) in Die Puppe (The puppet), Berlin: Ullstein, 1976, p.35.

In Private Investigator’s Dream Machine (2010),[1] a performative work.station was first inhabited and activated by choreographed performance (duration 40 min), which was simultaneously mediated onto the screen. The audience was invited to move in indicated areas outside of the camera frames and had the choice between seeing the live performance or the stereoscopic, mediated screen image. They could also move between the options as they were free to move in space in the assigned areas. Subsequently, the installation was activated by the audience for the duration of the event and became a work.station, in the sense that audience members had the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with their doubled, stereoscopic image. They had the possibility to explore the different spatial densities that the stereoscopic set up created in the physical space, and how the body emerged in the digitally overlayed images (almost real time) on the screen. As an embodied contention, the work imagines an (im)possible future of a body that multiplies, modifies, and transgresses itself. A micro-choreography evolves of a body morphing and doubling. A cruel, sensuous and strangely poetic monstrosity made through relentless distortion with the help of the mirror machine,[2] the core element of Private Investigator’s Dream Machine, imagining the grim perversion of processed body images and pseudo-organic symmetry in fluid, fleshy and futile creatures. With this work, I attend to the (im)possible future of a (genetically) modified body that multiplies, meshes with and transgresses itself as a body. As performer, I am confronted with the doubling of myself. The relationship between self-perception, observation and surveillance gets probed. The dichotomy between object and subject, human and machine becomes visible, as I encounter the other of myself on the screen.

[1] Private Investigator’s Dream Machine was performed in Vienna, Austria at im_Flieger / crossbreed – a platform for artistic perspectives, which deals with the interleave of media, dance/performance and film/new media by means of performances, installations, (short) films, workstations, discursive formats or hybrid works in between, and also at MAK nite, a series dedicated to performance hosted by Museum for Applied Arts, Vienna. For Video and Digital Arts International Festival (VAD), Girona, Spain, we developed again a site-specific iteration of the work.

[2] Sue Taylor highlights Hans Bellmer’s statement that: ‘the affective images man creates of his body will not correspond to the reflection in the mirror.’ (p.101) and she attends to Bellmer’s conviction that ‘mathematical processes operate not just in the abstract but in the flesh. The body participates in intellectual life.’ See Sue Taylor, ‘Pseudorationality and the Virtual Body’ in Hans Bellmer. The Anatomy of Anxiety, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2002.

Photocollage © Synes Elischka / Private Investigator’s Dream Machine / performance & choreography: Mariella Greil.

In a Practice as Research approach Emily Sweeney and I introduce a choreographic - poetic exploration under the title How We Deviate With folding Nancy’s philosophical concept of Being – With into the collaborative practice of movement, wit(h)nessing and performative writing. Bracketed together by How and With we deviate.


The performative texts wilfully mix various forms of materials and blends movement scores, video stills, diary entries, dialogues and images with sketches and various fragments of letters and dinner conversations.


In three documentary movements (1) A Collection of Loose Ends (2) Séances of Absences (3) What We Lost we trace and compose the process of deviation. By (mis)understanding Baruch Spinoza’s Chapter IV in Ethics or drifting with Petra Sabisch or once again through dialogue with an absent moving interlocutor a dialogue emerges as aesthetic force gains weight and intensity. It gradually forms a hybrid „we“. This textual body dances across the page, attempting to keep the choreographic in motion, inviting de-viation rather than de-scription.

A dialogue project between Mariella Greil and Emily Sweeney realised in the frame of the London-based creative research project Performance Matters - a five-year creative research project exploring the cultural value of performance, its increased public presence and vital force, and its extensive circulation as a concept and metaphor in critical discourse.

Taking place between 2009 and 2012, Performance Matters comprised three themed years of interlinked research activities (see: http://www.thisisperformancematters.co.uk). In 2013- 2014 Crossovers - a series of artists’ documentaries and critical dialogue films arising from the research - was produced. In its final year of research activity - framed under the theme Potentials of Performance - dialogue projects initiated by the group of associated researchers from both Goldsmiths, University of London and University of Roehampton were featured. How We Deviate With was among them and is here introduced in three documentary movements. It is a hybrid WE that speaks for itself...

First Movement: 30 May 2012

A Collection of Loose Ends


We dance, talk and write about issues of relationality, choreographic practice and performance, and the immanent potentials inherent in these. We are both dedicated to a collaborative rather than a strictly two-way dialogue. From the beginning, deviations and repetitions have interwoven throughout the texts passed between us until singularities and authorship blur—becoming a Deleuzean line of flight rather than a well-structured argument between two individuals.

   The links we make occur not so much through the frontal lobe, but rather in the older, more intuitive and motor-sensory parts of our brains; it is these subliminal potentials that this dialogue explores. These potentials are not (yet) packaged; we are not working from an aesthetic that requires us to tie up our ideas and present them in a frame. Instead, we trust in collaborative practices and the willingness to be lost together, and we promise to have no conclusion before the process, holding onto our senses as tools for sense-making and reflection.

   So what do we do? In short: we practice what Jean-Luc Nancy theorised—we abundantly deviate from and with.

Video & sound © Mariella Greil & Emily Sweeney / A  Collection of Loose Ends / performance: Mariella Greil and Emily Sweeney.

Photocopy © Synes Elischka.

Studio practices: 3 scores


Score 1: Eyeballs resting and finding supporting surfaces in the other’s body

   The proposition is to explore the rooting of the shared dance in the oculomotor nerve and its sensory and motor root, replacing the eye activity with the activity of rest. The focus is on the anatomically specific practice of letting the eyeballs rest in the orbits and tracing the sensory and motor root all the way along the spinal cord to its origin near the coccyx.


Score 2: Orbiting impulses

   In this score, one partner stands with the eyes closed, while the other walks an orbit around her. At any point, the orbiting partner may step in and offer an impulse, which can be resolved by the central partner in any way—she is tasked only with tracing the full pathway of that original impulse, defining for herself what a single impulse is. The “orbiter” may shift the pace or direction of her pathway at any point. Her orbiting allows for a constantly shifting perspective; it proposes the sense that we are entities circling one another to great effect, capable of interjecting with a diversion or deviation at any moment.


Score 3: Performing the lineage of collaboration and the practice of wit(h)nessing

   Each partner performs an improvised solo that attempts to evoke her version and experience of the collaboration between the partners thus far. Props from past works can be made available.

Drawings © Mariella Greil / Eyeballs 1-3.

Video © Mariella Greil / monocular / sound: Werner Moebius.

The video monocular addresses seeing as doubled activity - both from the perspective of the one seeing and the one looking back while being seen, returning reflections and reversing  directions. Backlash of eyeballs. The video stages monocular exploration of retro-reflexive presences.

Drawing © Nikolaus Gansterer / Basic Income Dance Score.

Film stills © Étienne-Jules Marey / Station Physiologique performance: George Demenÿ.

Photos of this Slideshow © Mariella Greil, Sabina Holzer and Bernadette Reiter. 

Video still © Archive Mariella Greil / Das Herz in die Hand nehmen / lecture performance: Mariella Greil.

Photo © Mariella Greil / bubble.

Plan © AO& / Stage design Unter Tag.

This work is related to the German idiom for courage: ‘Das Herz in die Hand nehmen’ (‘to take one’s heart into one’s hand’).

Take the heart in your hands lays bare and takes a close look at, what motivates me to make the work that I make and was performed as a contribution to Unter Tag/ Assembly for Everyone invited by AO&, Marino Formenti & Tanzquartier Wien as part of a 24 hours performance, Halle G, Museumsquartier, Vienna.

Handapparat, a collection of 365 cards filed in a wooden box. The cards all relate to the topic of my thesis and mostly display photos, drawings, cut ups and cut outs, collages. It is a mapping device for dis- and re-organising my movements in relation to my research process. A selected sample is included in the digital anarchive.

Video © Mariella Greil / Handlung.

The crafting of the Handapparat was a drift into the past, remembering performances, somewhat archived in my body, remembered in movement as I had performed few of them or (more or less enthusiastically) sat through many of them as wit(h)ness. The dances and choreographies I saw, informed the dances and choreographies I made or didn’t make.[1]

In the Handapparat I collected, documented, collated, drafted materials, ideas, thinking-processes related to my doctoral research.

[1] At times, I felt quite relieved that someone has already taken on the task to create a performance, that I could wit(h)ness, taking from me the responsibility of ‘making’. Still there are works that I feel I needed to or wanted to perform.

Video © Mariella Greil / Handschrift.

Film © Étienne-Jules Marey / Station Physiologique / performance: George Demenÿ.

Video & sound © Victor Jaschke/ Baring or red herring? / performance: Mariella Greil.

Video © Mariella Greil / get a comet / sound: Werner Moebius.

Photo © Mariella Greil / transparencies.

This soundfile is the solidary reading of a letter I received from a Mexican friend. It was recorded onto a mobile device that was handed over to the wit(h)nesses during the lecture performance 'Baring or red herring?'.