Heritage and inheritance can change entire lives, determine careers, reveal and define character, shape families. It is closely related to metaphors, materializations, and power. While it can be something material, it is also an immaterial force that situates and determines identity. But what is heritage really? And what does it do to us? The solo »take me to my house« by Viennese choreographer and dancer Camilla Schielin does not deliver a definition or explanation, but rather explores the concept of heritage, identity, and interpersonal relations as an assemblage.
The term, largely influenced by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s concepts, describes a complex structure of heterogeneous elements that allows for fluidity, multidimensional dynamics, and exchange. Against the backdrop of postmodernism, they define the subject embedded in a relational assemblage of multiple elements. Neither identity nor body are closed entities but consist of complex relations and are volatile. Recent New Materialism, driven heavily by Rosi Braidotti’s writings on the posthuman, refers to living and non-living matter and asks how it acts as material-discursive assemblages. Building on Deleuze and Guattari’s idea, matter is not understood as a purely static object, but as a dynamic process of becoming in which different practices are involved that do not necessarily have a causal relationship. Matter and identity are primarily read as performatively produced to rethink subjectivity as a collective assemblage.
Subjects are collective assemblages, that is to say they are dynamic, but framed: fields of forces that aim at duration and affirmative self-realization. In order to fulfil them, they need to be drawn together along a line of composition. This is rather like pitching a musical tone.1
In an analogous approach, »take me to my house« brings together material and immaterial actors Schielin engages with in ever evolving collaborative assemblages. A huge pile of intertwined garments forms a literal assemblage and serves as a silent performer or as a nonpassive witness. Over the course of the performance, Schielin works her way through various levels of materiality and immateriality and moments of convergence alternate with distant poses. The camera shots oscillate between central-perspective plan sequences that focus on the entire space and intimate close-ups that concentrate on the performer’s gaze and movement. Schielin uses the filmic format to introduce montage technique as a performative agency. It’s almost as if the camera is another immaterial agent. The performer’s bodily language is sometimes cautiously tentative, then exalted or fluid, growing more racy and audacious, trying out different corporealities – as if she was trying to grasp something that’s not tangible. Her movements collage different references together, alluding to body discourses of control and training, yet remain at the interface of intimate closeness and subliminal discipline. It seems as if these paradoxical gestures throw themselves away. Is she trying to escape herself? To elude from her own skin? The notion of heritage also raises the question of the extent to which we make use of adopted and unconsciously practiced gestures.
While it almost seems as if she puts together a collage of the self, Schielin is herself appearing on the »stage« as one: she wears simple pants with a T-shirt mounted from several shirts, including a death metal shirt. The textile design by Louise Streissler underlines the idea of sampling and continues in the sound design by Luize Nezberte, which blends pop samples, ambient sounds and haunted house music. Sampling technique functioning as accumulation of heterogeneous elements, is accentuated by the filmic montage of the video – camera and editing by Hannah Todt and Alexander Heinrich –, whose distinct cuts allow Schielin to address the viewers with a sometimes uncanny immediacy. Just as sound, textile design and dance in »take me to my house« merge into one another and yet exist as independent entities, the work explores the complex reference system we call »self« while acting it out. Thus, the performance becomes a tangible framework for experiencing the complex.
Different agencies intertwine, contradict and complement each other to form »immanent assemblages or transversal alliances between multiple actors«2 . »take me to my house« creates an environment to connect and inter-relate with others in a variety of ways. At the end there is an exuberant-surprising moment when Schielin steps in front of a curtain, performing a karaoke version of the Eurovision hit »Euphoria« by the Swedish one hit wonder Laureen. Oscillating between exaggeration, embarrassment and self-irony, that causes a rupture and enables a self-referential moment. »Forever till the end of time.« An embracing self-disarming, at least for a brief moment.
1 Rosi Braidotti »Writing as a Nomadic Subject«, in: »Comparative Critical Studies 11«, 2–3/2014, p. 173.
2 Rosi Braidotti »A Theoretical Framework for the Critical Posthumanities« in: »Theory, Culture & Society 36«, 2019, p. 36.