TQW Magazin
Christiane Czymoch on SOILED by Michael Turinsky

From soundscape to landscape – a universe of water, words, soft flesh

Auschnitt eines Körperteils welches mit einer dunklen, gelb-grünen Flüssikeit überzogen ist

From soundscape to landscape – a universe of water, words, soft flesh

Out of the darkness, the first cautious words come with the first faint light. Three people, close together, take turns to describe, overlappingly, fluidly, what hasn’t happened yet that evening, interwoven with what has happened long before. Childhood memories and the face buried in the other, grandfather’s sea voyage and the grounding effect of gravity. “I once dated that mermaid.” The fantastic mixes with fresh sweat. It’s impossible to make out whether they are talking to each other or against each other, against something, cyclically and closely thwarting the upright order.

“Here we are. We, the humans. We, the crip animals.” Michael Turinsky’s voice takes over, reading The Soiled Manifesto from offstage like a greeting of self-confirmation. “We, the ones expelled from the oceanic womb.” This disgorged “we” goes on a dreamlike journey back into the sweat, the fog, the rain, the puddles, a lake, the open sea. In oil. The three performers: thrown, lapped at and carried by a water of words, in an inflatable universe with a crater rim for protection, which is also a boundary. The bodies are open, soft, slippery with pumpkin-seed oil and yet not free of resistance, half-naked, vibrating and in a breaking motion, towards and away from each other. Clothed in the fabric of a new voice that will be staying with us until the end, that rhythmically conjures up landscapes and lays trails on the bodies, along and across them, like footprints in damp soil. At times it’s unclear whether the voice is taking the lead, who is following whom. Space and movement become words, and words become images again. A dull bass joins the dripping beat of the oil from the ceiling. And a golden cloth, arched and veined, is hovering above – the pumpkin sun that warms everything, nourishes everything.

Like children playing, they are closer to the ground than to walking upright, gliding, skidding and muddling, pulsating, drawing themselves up and sinking back down. Cheerfully playful and struggling with themselves, “all three on their own island”. Their own island, sheltered yet lapped by waves and eddies. Playing with the tides, played with by the tides. Any relaxed ease in the movements also shows signs of cracks. The apocalyptic thus manifests itself in lust, and the utopian in the breathing, twitching body.

The bass hits the chest once more, then silence and breathing fill the room. Sliding along the edges of their oily plastic world with caressing movements, they test them, up and down the crater but never beyond. Intimate contact with one’s own limits and those laid down by the outside world, with the universe inside, not without asking what else is out there. The external limits: protection for some, a prison for others.

Soft guitar sounds, “galaxies realigned […], three islands like a puzzle fit side by side”. The bodies sink into each other fleshily soft, a head nestles in a lap. The trembling of one determines the frequency that shakes all the bodies until it becomes a common one. Warm bodies in vibration, like sex, like cerebral palsy, like stumbling, like anger, like ecstasy. A visceral dialogue in flux, unison without synchronicity. The silent outline of another way to coexist, organising an uprising of three.

At the end, they finally do disembark, one, two, three. The first one by herself, the other two following after her. Having crossed the boundary, they dip into the edge of the universe. And then? Almost lifeless, a final pair of legs slips into the blackness. The bass stays with us in the dark like a heartbeat. And in the body, under the skin, that which touches beyond language reverberates. Closeness to the ground as a connection to the world, and thus back to the organic that cannot be put into words, only translated into small tremors.


Christiane Czymoch writes poetry and prose texts. She examines the performativity of utopias and, in a PhD project in theatre studies, the connection between aesthetics and politics. She also works in the field of media accessibility, currently chiefly as a subtitler and speech-to-text interpreter.