Cruising spaces to be defined: “I’m a crawler. I’m a roller. I’m a lover.”
In a theatric nowhereland, fraying ends point into a black stage universe, the white marley floor has been laid. The space for Precarious Moves is only visible online, on demand, in January 2021, without a contour. Michael Turinsky, however, doesn’t glide onstage. Clattering, clanking, physically resistant, he crosses the seemingly unlimited space, pushing a serving trolley in front of him, moving the wheelchair across the dance floor with his bare feet alone, and welcomes the virtual audience. “Hi! Hi, hi.” The performed privateness tears a hole in the distance between the video stage space and the eyes, ears, fingertips on the device, over and over again throughout the entire performance. A wooden toy tree topples over. “Oops!” Hands, tensely swaying, open a bottle of tonic water. “Easy!” Clanking and crashing sounds from behind the white back wall, laboured breathing amplified by the microphone, going backwards, concentrated, step by step in the direction of the wheelchair, suddenly stumbling, alarm. No fall. Just little things, marginal notes. But they create a sensory transparency that aims to free the artistic process from the dictates of failure-free success. A quiet fuck you to having-to-function in general.
The swaying, tense body, reverberation in every movement, that refuses to become invisible in its non-normative materiality. On the other hand, the artist who refuses to be always present. “For me, crip essentially means resistance. […] Like, as I love to do, not getting up before 11 a.m. And letting your assistant bring breakfast to your bed. That’s the kind of cozy resistance against mobilisation that I mean.” A provocative depoliticisation of resistance or rather an uncompromising appropriation of the private as being political through and through? In the empty space there is no collective laughter in response. The verbal gesture reaches out to the audience nonetheless.
“How can a gesture find its own milieu and still care for or at least care about the milieu of the other?”, Turinsky asked earlier. The space in which a crip gesture finds its own milieu and still cares about the milieu of the other and vice versa is therefore a utopian and, consequently, a political one by necessity. Toward a futurity, for the sake of which Turinsky has repeatedly examined in his performances the state of being of the present, as well as solidarities, the relationships between precarious bodies and between them and their environment, power structures, the conflicts between the organic and the organisational, the contradictions between choreography as the organisational principle of movement and crip resistance against neoliberal forced mobility. Raising his voice, Turinsky asks us, “What if our fetishisation of speed is rooted in a certain sense of social stagnation?”, and, without the use of words, he makes a curious physical counter-offer. What if we were able to read the resistive slowness of his movements on the stage as social progress? As an aesthetic of the utopian?
All of this is being performed against a soundscape in which the delicate sounds of a children’s music box seem to mix with the muffled whirring of machines or charged club nights. A wooden train set, put together in small pieces, and a paper boat that floats back and forth across a lake of tonic water covering 20 centimetres of freedom. Elements of children’s playful motor learning are permanently present, counteracting the verbal intellectualisation of the choreography as well as the precarious corporeality. Or do they complement them? A simple statement is being hinted at: The human condition, it is complex.
Then starts a repetitive beat, somewhere between the lashes of a whip and the anachronistic clacking of type bars. We thus find ourselves in a pop culture reference, a music video, caught between smirking in irony and inevitably being touched. In simple three-word sentences, Turinsky celebrates being a body and being a man, being moved, both emotionally and physically, being a lyer and a lover. Laughing defiantly, we watch him as he circles the stage in an electric miniature Porsche. Turinsky is driving, but does he control the speed himself? The laughter is caught between pop kitsch and the plain sincerity of his uncompromising claim to the right of being many all the time, just not linearly, in time and space.
This rejection of linearity, whether voluntary or by necessity, starts a utopian dialogue between a crip gesture and the majority society, in which it’s the latter’s turn to take another lap when Turinsky asks: “How can we de-organise and re-organise our movements in such a way, so that my movement can join your movement? So that we move on with joint forces?”
Christiane Czymoch examines the link between aesthetics and the political as well as the performativity of utopias in her current doctoral thesis project in theatre studies. She also works as a subtitler and in the field of media accessibility.
Katherina T. Zakravsky/ZAK RAY asks Michael Turinsky four questions about a piece that did not happen.