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Reciprocal figures, 2020
Companion piece to the dance performance LIMBO by Roza and Ronak Moshtaghi
First published in Black Box' Publikasjon 5: read it here (pdf)

1

So it goes.
All the time. Imagine a story where time is not an arrow, but a blanket.
The blanket can be folded, flat, hung up, put away. In every state, the blanket stays the same.

Q: What happens in a story if time is flat?
A: Everything at once.

Patterns are regularities in the world.
Imposing regularity means performing a kind of magic.
Breaking regularity equally so.
It’s a game of perspective.

In early Japanese cinema, the Benshi were authority figures. They read the intertitles and voiced the characters of silent films to the audience. Many Benshi would also provide commentary and interpretation to what was happening on screen, drawing attention to a complex shot, a sudden transition. Some were even known to add to the script, recite a poem. Similarly, in Persian storytelling, the Naghal performs in front of a large painted canvas (Pardeh), hung in squares, on the walls of tea or coffee houses. Pardehs have been used by Naghals to tell stories for 400 years. The paintings themselves do not change. It’s the power of the storyteller to shift the story, according to the social and political settings of their time; pointing at subplots, changing implications, suddenly making the protagonist out of a formerly minor character. A Pardeh has all the events of a story on it, which the Nahgal refers to during their recounting. Often, Naghals use a stick to direct the audience's attention from one dramatic event to the next.
We can say it’s not about getting the story, but about joining the play.
In Naghali tradition, the audience knows the stories by heart, but still, they join the play.

Q: If someone tells you to look, do you?
A: ...

2

So it goes.
All the time. Imagine a time where the story is not an arrow, but a chorus.
The chorus is remembered, shared, looped. With every play, the chorus is changed.

Q: What is love?
A: Baby don’t hurt me.

Repetition is a tool to shrink time.
Imposing repetition is also performing a kind of magic.
The movement is the same. The word is the same.
Repetition alters our reading of it.

Shrinking or expanding introduces a currency of time in connection to space.
In 1993 Haddaway released the song “What Is Love”. It is fair to assume that this song has been played every second for more than a decade. If not by continuity, then by simultaneity, repeated so many times it has become part of our common knowledge. If five hundred nightclubs played “What Is Love” once during a Saturday set, the song’s total playtime that night amounts to 2165 minutes. Not counting living rooms, radio channels, car stereo cassette players. “What Is Love” hit no 1 in charts in 13 countries, and by March 1994, the single had reached 2.6 million in sales.

Similarly, tattoos form patterns in history, connecting bodies to time through repetition. Certain phrases become popularized and spread. The same words of remembrance, celebrations of new life, affirmations of self-worth and declarations of true love, travel from skin to skin, person to person.


3

Dear reader,

The visuals you will see on the next few pages are collected from the process of making the performance Limbo.

Please have a look.

(‘So it goes’ is a Tralfamadorian saying from the novel ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ by Kurt Vonnegut)