It’s been a while since I had the urge to vomit. To turn my insides out, and start messing around with my own entrails. Yet such was the case last Monday at DUNCE, during Tatsuya Nakatani and Vanessa Skantze’s jarring performance.
Donning a coat of rags consisting of torn scraps of fabric, Skantze teetered through the audience in a seizure-induced stride, until reaching the stage. Proceeding to twitch and convulse, she eventually collapsed, just barely clinging to her paralysis. Abandoned, slivers of percussion eventually stirred her, as Nakatani unfurled his artillery of noisemakers. Emerging slowly, twine-like dreadlocks cast cobweb shadows onto the wall.
Meanwhile Nakatani unleashed a cacophony of noises evoking nails-on-a-chalkboard, and the opening of the heavens. Laboring on other instruments, he sawed cymbals with violin bows, dragged fingernails along drums, pounded gongs, and delicately tapped temple bells and chimes with chopsticks.
Skantze’s personae, dredged up from the depths of a primordial soup, thrashed and seized, while teetering on the brink of a cataclysmic abyss. Her pale skin encrusted with paste, was lizard-like and brought to mind the Marat de Sade’s excruciating suffering. Here was a woman who’d lost it all, survived the apocalypse and was clinging to the faintest glimmers of existence, while writhing about in her own chthon. And when her life-force surged, she sputtered and slashed, gasping for air, as sinews of flesh peeled from her acrid body and shards of mantle swung wildly about.
Skantze equaled any number of femmes fatales – from the Classical medusa to the medieval witch. Above all Kiki Smith’s iconic ‘Tale” came to mind. Just thirty minutes of this harrowing spectacle left the audience utterly depleted and traumatized to their core.