TQW Magazin
Petra Poelzl on ONíRICA by Marta Navaridas

Leaning into the simple pleasures of existing

Leaning into the simple pleasures of existing

With ONÍRICA, Marta Navaridas and her three performers transfer the practice of drawing to a choreographic setting. This week’s premiere at Tanzquartier Wien had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Petra Poelzl saw the performance already at its Salzburg premiere and has shared her thoughts with TQW Magazin.


We are in this together. No matter where we are positioned, we are responsible to and for each other. I think that’s what being terrestrial is all about.
Donna Haraway[1]

The term “onírica” serves as the starting point for choreographer Marta Navaridas’ production of the same name. “Onírica” describes a temporary state, a momentary existence, a possible mood of the day in which consciousness settles between external perception and the inner self. A state that defies logic, in which you are very close to – and yet far away from – yourself.

You could even say to have spent your day in an onírica kind of way.
Marta Navaridas[2]

Marta Navaridas and the three performers Lau Lukkarila, Veza Fernández and Xianghui Zeng have experimented with the movement practice of Authentic Movement to create an emerging “onírica” universe together with harpist Eduardo Raon and composer Manuel Riegler. A practice that can be found not only in dance but also in various physical therapies and that always involves an intensive dialogue with one’s personal history. Practising Authentic Movement can bring a broad scope of emotional spaces to the surface, ranging from light-hearted, child-like serenity to intimate, profound emotions.

In the dark and silence, journeys begin, with feelings, images, sounds, memories, thoughts and sensations. Gates to the unconscious open as movers descend.
Janet Adler[3]

These diverse landscapes also run through ONíRICA, and hints of them can be registered as soon as one enters the Ropac Gallery exhibition space in an industrial building on the outskirts of Salzburg, covering 2,500 square metres. In the middle of the exhibition space there is a white cuboid hollow body. Fifteen chairs for the audience along the two long sides. Either of the two musicians behind each row of chairs. The three performers in the hollow space of the cuboid. A laboratory-like, sterile scenario to begin with, an expedition to the universe of an unknown species, a community in the know.

Even on entering the room, the performers and the musicians are both absorbed as well as present in their “onírica”. Their eyes wander across the room, over the faces of the audience, eliciting something deep down without the need to respond or recount anything. Rather, they invite the viewer to consider “onírica”. Their movements are careful and deliberate, dispensing with any traces of a school. They inscribe themselves into their immediate surroundings in the form of blue lines, like the swinging arm of a seismograph. Strokes and lines run across the white walls of the cuboid, the clothes and skin of the performers, they overlap and intersect, break off suddenly. A performative act reminiscent of Marta Navaridas’ childhood, when she journeyed to remote fantasy worlds by drawing lines with blue pens.

Notwendig ist heute nicht die Entschleunigung, sondern eine Zeitrevolution, die eine ganz andere Zeit beginnen lässt.
Byung-Chul Han[4]

In ONíRICA, the blue lines seem like evidence of another world, another time, which is being disposed of right this moment in front of the audience. Layer by layer. In the process, a vociferous appeal is made against (hetero-)normative codes of conduct in an attempt to permit diverse imaginations. A space that is flexible instead of rigid, full of pleasure and without fear, in which togetherness transcends everything else and is celebrated.

Our radical imagination is a tool for decolonization, for reclaiming our right to shape our lived reality.
adrienne maree brown[5]

The sound of the harp and the electronic sounds are “tripping” through the room, become blurred and mix with the squeaking of the pens, the performers’ spontaneous singing and exhausted breathing. ONíRICA doesn’t want to tell a story, ONíRICA wants to be experienced. ONíRICA is a laboratory, a community that wants to start a completely different time, a different way of being. When the audience have been asked to leave the room after sixty minutes, the scenario and its actors remain in the gallery room. ONíRICA continues to linger and vibrate in one’s own body and in one’s own world of thoughts.

A lot of pleasure activism is also leaning into the simple pleasures of existing, right here, right now. I think communities of care are the future for our species. And I just hope that we don’t have to go down the most apocalyptic world to get us there.
adrienne maree brown[6]


[1] Donna Haraway in a discussion with Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel in the course of Virtual Opening and Streaming Festival: Critical Zones – Observatories for Earthly Politics at ZKM (24.05.2020). https://zkm.de/en/event/2020/05/virtual-opening-and-streaming-festival-critical-zones (Last Visit: 17.06.2020)
[2] Marta Navaridas in an online interview with Petra Poelzl (18.05.2020)
[3] Janet Adler in the trailer of her movie Still Looking (1988). www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcZGUTy5wYk (Last Visit: 17.06.2020)
[4] Byung Chul-Han Alles eilt. Wie wir die Zeit erleben. In: www.zeit.de/2013/25/zeit-logik-effizienz-kapital-gabe/seite-2 (Last Visit: 17.06.2020)
[5] adrienne maree brown, Pleasure Activism (2019), AK Pr Distribution (Chico, Edinburgh), p. 10.[6] adrienne maree brown in an interview with Catherine Lizette Gonzalez in: Pleasure Activism‘, Adrienne Maree Brown Dares Us to Get In Touch With Our Needs (2019) www.colorlines.com/articles/pleasure-activism-adrienne-maree-brown-dares-us-get-touch-our-needs (Last Visit: 17.06.2020)


Petra Poelzl is the artistic and managing director of the Neue Galerie and the Kunstpavillon of Tiroler Künstler*innenschaft (Tyrolean Artists Association) in Innsbruck. Poelzl previously worked as a freelance dramaturge, curator and researcher in Berlin, Graz and China. Her texts have appeared in exhibition catalogues, magazines and specialist journals.