By Karel Tuytschaever, Antwerp, 14 04 2020
The body is the central theme in all works by BARRY. In each of the works a body is being approached in another way as a basic principle of research and creation. In the last few years, to give an example, the loving body, the limited body and the absent body have each been that basic principle.
The body is the central theme in all works by BARRY. In each of the works a body is being approached in another way as a basic principle of research and creation. In the last few years, to give an example, the loving body, the limited body and the absent body have each been that basic principle. After the content of the thematic body has been set, the bodies that are most able to translate that content, to embody it, are being chosen. Only then the medium and the discipline through which this embodiment can be looked at the clearest is determined. This is how the artistic output by BARRY varies from a play to a performance, from a manuscript to a publication, from a film to an installation. Lastly, the form is set, always in utter sensibility to text and other material and its eloquence, and within that frame text and movement are developed.
BARRY’s artistic process is research at the same time and it is equivalent to the artistic result: art as research. The embodiment is the key to the development of BARRY’s work and, consequently, defines the language (of movement) used. The creative and mental process are continuously being questioned, aiming for the specification of a well-chosen way to apply the performer's body. The knowledge gained from the research eventually becomes the artwork itself.
BARRY’s origin can be found in the implosive space of drama, the place where big fiction rules. Theatre is a fictively shaped space offering the audience a one-dimensional spatial perspective on a certain situation, where – within a defined timeframe – time and space are being juggled with.
Throughout the years Karel’s view on the theatre space has changed thoroughly. By exploring techniques, use of space and methods to work with bodies in the visual and audiovisual arts, and re-injecting these insights and perspectives in the theatre space, Karel couldn’t look at it but as an interspace. Here bodies appear to behave themselves in a different way. The interspace is not a final destination. It always implies motion, even in stillness. This fundamental change in meaning and dealing with it, obviously, has an impact on its embodiment. Beyond the theatrical patterns the bodies return to originality, as one skin came off.
Karel first researched the application of performer's bodies to different performing art disciplines. As he managed to understand this physical approach within those disciplines, he was able to go around them when observing what binds the performer's bodies instead of where they differ.
Thanks to this focused research Karel found a way to put BARRY’s method in words and make it comprehensible: the method of the identity-free body.
This state of embodiment only emerges when a performer's body is capable of stripping off all ballast and non-proper performing layers, and is within a fictional art context. This quality is an indispensable basis to come to creation. The body allows full emotional encroachment and becomes meaning. It’s about the energy stemming from the bodies, and not their eloquence nor the display of it. The performer's bodies attain utter receptiveness and vulnerability in the moment. This way the audience experiences the body as transparent by the audience, as a canvass on which they can project their imagination.
The term identity-free body has evolved since, and today, in 2018, Karel tends to refer to it as transparent body.
In the conventional narrative forms in the arts there is friction between the bodies. At BARRY friction mainly occurs within the body, which generates another relation between the different bodies in the same space. As the body is, it naturally has the right to exist, and therefore the audience cannot ignore it.
As the behaviour of the bodies is independent of the friction between the bodies, they are freed of the responsibility of primarily communicating a narrative. This brings extra space and therefore, time. In this tangible space the bodies function as planets that evolve around each other, attract and push each other away.
The bodies relate to reality. Reality always resonates through the bodies. The bodies are real, hence, the audience is forced to relate itself to reality.
The bodies are object rather than subject, man rather than character. They all are thinking bodies that relate to meaning, form, object, text, each other and the audience in a non-conventional way. This way of embodying makes looking at it broader, more spatial and scenic.
When looking at the bodies in the works of BARRY, you are looking at images that have been carefully filleted and composed; and at how the bodies are being placed in that image.
In the imaging you, the viewer, experience a spatiality where carefully chosen materials and textures, light, sound and silence dialogue with the bodies. The esthetics and the composition of those images prevent chaos and create clear imagery. It is this open eloquence that often and forcefully confronts, touches, confuses, moves, opens or, on the contrary, closes the viewer.
No matter how close the body in the artwork may be to its original self, Karel aims for a simplified and stylized body. The contradiction of this steered purification is that the body comes across more authentic. In this contradiction lies BARRY’s intuition and strength; here resides the specific craftmanship necessary to make embodiment, space and time interact in a well-balanced way.
An artist creates his work starting from a specific position and has no influence or grip on the reality and the power of expression of his work once it is out of his hands; the work gets another, additional meaning once it is being looked at. The image that is being looked at is the eventual form of the position that the artist had taken when he was embodying the content of the work.
In the moment of looking the viewer takes position in relation to the image that is being displayed. In other words, it is the viewer that provides meaning because it was the artist who had taken a stand first. The work takes up a proposition and speaks for the artist. The bodies in the work become a potentially new image, the new window to the world once the viewer is leaving the room.
BARRY puts the spotlight on a proposal, and not on a performance, by means of its images.
The question BARRY asks himself is whether the theatrical space can support the readability of its new way of placing bodies into the theatrical context. The challenge for BARRY lies in searching for a minimal colouring of his position so that the theatrical space can still function. The answer will arise in the image and the embodiment itself.
LOOKING & IMAGINING
BARRY’s imaging encloses overview, room for the viewer’s imagination. The viewer himself can find out why and how the bodies act the way they do. It’s become clear that the specific form of embodiment by BARRY doesn’t easily fit the usual dramatic or epic way of looking.
The viewer is supposed to look actively and to take a stand. Each one in the audience is offered the same ingredients, but has the possibility to prepare a meal of his own. If you fail to do that as a viewer, you may have to leave the room with an empty stomach.
The imagined story built through looking doesn’t tell the story of the bodies, but that of the viewer.