What one perceives but does not know

Andrea Maurer on Yabba by María Jerez
 
© Bernhard Müller
Andrea Maurer on Yabba by María Jerez

It’s a paradoxical endeavour to write about YABBA, even more so to try describing it. At the first attempt of composing a text, I fall into a fold and glide along between the words. Fold after fold one finds oneself in the middle of sentences, enclosed, surrounded by an in-between, where the language, or thinking itself slips away again and again, as soon as one tries to fix it with words.

YABBA – the title of this miraculous work by María Jerez – is a word with no meaning. It’s a shape rather than a name. A nameless name to name what cannot be named.

Between the two Bs, YABBA folds into an uneven fold. With the wordless vehemence of its unfolding vigour, YABBA catapults those present to a non-place of language.

The theatre space is completely thrown back on its spatiality: a dusky cave, a semi-dark chamber, with us, the audience people, descending into and entering it. There is no front and no back, no left, no right, just the required trappings and an up and a down necessitated by gravity. As soon as we step in, the space absorbs us: the inside envelops us including with its sounds.

As a gathering of two-legged individual beings, we stand around a “something” and gaze at that “something” with our pairs of eyes: it lies there, at our feet, spread or sunk down: something like a landscape or a lake of shapes that we neither know nor recognise.

Covered by a fabric whose folds and furrows throw the light in one direction or another. There is no right direction, no apposite view. The intention is not known. We get an overview, but we lack both comprehension and insight.

There is a rustle below the surface, sometimes there is a crunching noise as our gazes come up out of our selves, sliding into the endless bends of the fabric. Slowly but surely the uppermost layer is drawn across the underlying formations. No, it isn’t drawn. It sucks itself into itself: into an orifice that could be a thirsty mouth or an audacious hole. Fold after fold, the outside vanishes into its own inside to unfold more layers and coverings, more craters and bulges beneath.

Something is breathing there and here. Elsewhere, something sways, rises, trembles, pulsates. It puffs itself out of itself, shoots up gigantically into the air. Grows rampant. Other parts move like remnants of machines, whose hidden mechanism one cannot decipher. Is the thing a non-thing? The thing is a non-thing. Is it one or are they many? Do they belong together? Are they living entities getting up to mischief?

It’s as if we were in a syncopal respiratory ward for unknown quantities that breathe life into our inner, secret, imaginary spaces. The gazes exhaust themselves, the perception is stumbling. Between the visible and the invisible, seeing and that which is being seen, thinking and that which is being thought become an indivisible movement of searching: “I” – what is that? Not a clue.

The surface on which these “I”s dissipate is made nonsense of as a surface; it is anything but superficial: a profound, abysmal surface for gazes to get entangled on. Associations emerge with a folded, furrowed flat screen that cannot be swiped away with a finger, and whose innards finally gush out from under the smooth, non-committal surface and draw physically close. On the spur of the moment, one would like to make a general call for furrowing and folding all user interfaces. As if YABBA could be a manifesto. A manifesto for detours and forks off the straight line, for the crinkling of time and aimless expeditions.

Recalcitrant in its refusal to provide a clear meaning, YABBA permeates every urge to interpret, and morphs words into bubbles; bursts the capacity of our language prostheses.

In its strangeness, YABBA demands a letting go of holding on. No either-or. Not insisting on a separation between inside/outside, human/non-human, self/non-self. Otherwise, we would be staring at this “something” like amputated archaeologists, without moving an inch, without discovering anything. Yet we do move: even without words, we dig into the changeable, changing formations. Like strangers among strangers, we are familiar with one another other, we coexist, and in this meeting of an in-between we practice an unknown encounter without a name.

 

Andrea Maurer (b. 1978 in Salzburg) lives and works as a visual artist, performer and choreographer in Vienna. She examines and deconstructs correlations between language, reality and perception, mostly in performative and/or installational formats. Maurer completed her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. Her work Gesprächsgegenstände from 2013 was awarded the Salzburg State Prize for Media Art. In 2016, she received the H13 Lower Austria Prize for Performance endowed by Kunstraum Niederoesterreich for SELBSTZERLEGUNG. Her piece If What Could Be Is How Why Not was shown at Tanzquartier Wien in autumn 2018. In summer 2019, she will present the installation Du bist nicht gerade in Anordnung plötzlich da at Galerie 5020 and the intervention Found Poems at the Sommerszene festival in Salzburg.

 

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