Oh, les filles!
Oh, les filles!
In German, ‘Stoff’ means both material/fabric and idea/inspiration. I am fascinated by this word because it captures the essence of my work. It could be an umbrella title for the second evening of Rakete Festival.
On Monday, 9 May, Christina Gillinger asks me to write a review for TQW Magazin about the pieces by Lena Schattenberg and Susanne Songi Griem, which are set to premiere the following Friday. The deadline is short, but I agree because Lena and Susanne are artists I have a high regard for. I have met both of them through costume design, and our paths have crossed at various junctures, which I would like to share with the readers here.
Thursday, 12 May 2022
It’s the day before the premiere.
I visit Lena and Susanne in the Studios of Tanzquartier Wien. We arranged that I would stop by around noon. I go to see Susanne first, and when I arrive at Studio 3, the run-through has already begun. Susanne is already on stage and welcomes me. One foot is bare, the other has been provided with a high black boot that makes a loud clicking sound. Hobbling, she carries a chair with a bunch of clothes on it – oh, Susanne’s perky odds and ends! Pete Prison IV enters the stage in a pink-blue-white bathrobe (Mael Blau is responsible for the costumes). It’s as if I’d just caught the two of them jumping out of bed. Christa Spatt is already there, sitting in the stalls. I sit down next to her. Susanne is looking at us intensely, as she always does, to tell us: ‘I have seen you, you look at me and I look at you, I’m listening to you, and now I will dance with you.’
Then I go to see Lena in Studio 2. She has a cold, but even so we have a stimulating exchange about the costume design for her piece. The beige velcro strips artfully sewn to the top part of her black jumpsuit pick up the pieces of fabric spread out on the floor as soon as Lena touches them with her costume. Lena tells me how, from London, she worked on a ‘costume score’ with artist Theo Clinkard. I find the idea very exciting and can’t wait to see the premiere. Lena also asked Philipp Gehmacher, Frédéric Gies and Samuel Feldhandler for dance scores, which she has all combined to create her own dance material. Samuel F. is an important partner for Lena, and it was through him that Lena and I first met three years ago.
July 2019 – LENA
8:tension, ImPulsTanz, ’d he meant vary a shin’s by Samuel F.
I’m making changes to the costumes. Lena is one of the three dancers in the piece. I meet her for the first time in the rehearsal room of Schauspielhaus. Lena is tall and beautiful, Lena is graceful. Her presence impresses me. Her arms and legs are infinitely long. Her gaze penetrates the room even without light and describes the lines of the choreography.
August 2019 – SUSANNE
Some time later that summer I hold a costume workshop for ImPulsTanz Festival, where I meet Susanne for the first time.
Susanne is part of the danceWEB group. We’re in the costume workshop of Odeon. Susanne is working on the ground, a little apart from the group. She doesn’t say much, she works, knits, puts small elements together, scattered pieces of material. She uses everything she finds and integrates it in her work. She creates elements for costumes and props from it within three days, which are present all over the room, and that’s wonderful.
August 2019 – LENA
I’m going to the Ruhrtriennale to see a premiere by the Needcompany. Lena is in the audience, and this is the first time I see her off the stage. A quiet relationship develops between us, based on our shared interest in the Flemish world of the performing arts. I worked with the Needcompany for several years, and Lena will go on to join the Rosas Company.
December 2019 – SUSANNE
Raw Matters takes place at LE STUDIO Film und Bühne. Susanne features in the programme.
‘Dance for me, dance for me, dance for me, oh, oh, oh’. I meet her on the stage again, where she explodes in Dance Monkey by Toni and I (which will go on to become a running gag between Susanne and my daughter).
I suggest she continue working in the LE STUDIO. Susanne doesn’t receive any subsidies from the City of Vienna at that time, but we find a solution! (She will get funding from the City of Vienna some time later.)
May 2021 – LENA
Rakete, Tanzquartier Wien
The next time I meet Lena’s body is in the scope of Immerhin ist mein Himmel hin (Sonata #5) by Samuel F., a piece for which I do the costumes. Lena has grown even taller, Studio 2 in TQW is almost too confined for her body, for her eyes. We work with pieces of velvet for the costumes and the stage set. Lena’s grace will not be tamed by velvet, she will perform most of the piece in a T-shirt and panties.
October 2021 – SUSANNE
After one and a half years of work, residencies and postponements, Susanne has finally first-performed Fisch und Schwan in Negligé at the LE STUDIO. Her piece is everywhere! She has knitted and entangled all over the entire building: the foyer, the cloakrooms, the stalls with the stage…
April 2022 – SUSANNE
A stroll with Susanne during the day. If we walk together, I’m not scared.
Susanne meets up with me and my daughter at eleven o’clock at Prater Station – the ‘central station’ of the ridable miniature railway Liliputbahn. It’s a sunny Sunday, but it’s cold. Susanne wraps her scarf around my daughter’s neck and gives her her woolly hat. She takes us by the hand, we go for a walk together, it’s lovely.
Friday, 13 May 2022
The Studio is packed. I’m a little concerned for you, Lena. I hope you will be able to dance and sing. You look majestic. You look at us with your doe eyes and keep us at bay. Even Albert, Krôôt’s and Alex’s son, who sits in the front row, keeps silent during the whole piece. You elegantly sew together each precious item you have collected from your peers. I would love to see you take a leap in the open air so that the wind can carry you.
We walk through the Tanzquartier library to Studio 3, a stroll that could have been scripted by Susanne. You rascal! You have changed quite a few things up again. You have turned Studio 3 into a village square, there is no boundary between you and us anymore, we enter the dance.
Susanne, one detail caught my attention the day before: six pyramid-shaped objects were lying on the floor. I thought they were pieces of ice that were supposed to melt during the piece. But you showed me that they were made of epoxy with a green feather enclosed in them. Apparently, the image of the ice stuck in your mind, because at 15.27 the day after the premiere you sent me two photos of large ice cubes with a feather frozen inside. Did you use these ice pyramids in the performance on Saturday…?
Oh, my girls, how far you’ve come over these past few years, and I have been lucky to meet you somewhere on they way and walk along with you for a little while!
Oh les filles is a song by the French rock group Au Bonheur des Dames.
The lyrics go like this:
Oh, you girls, oh, you girls,
I, I love you so much.
Lise Lendais studied stage design and costume design in France. Her first job as an artist was with the Needcompany in Belgium. She has been working as a costume and set designer with performing artists from the independent scene since 2010. Together with Pierre-Emmanuel Finzi she has been co-director of LE STUDIO Film und Bühne, a platform for theatre and cinema based in Vienna, since 2018. In 2022, she received a work scholarship for performance from the Municipal Department of Cultural Affairs, Vienna.