A tragedy of invisibility

Afterwords: Merle Saarva and Krõõt Juurak, Camouflage

DerStandard.at / ImPulsTanz.com 14 Jul 2002English

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Contextual note
This text is part of the project Afterwords, curated by Jeroen Peeters for the festival ImPulsTanz Vienna in summer 2002. Every night, three critics in residence shared their impressions and thoughts on the performances immediately after having seen them, in an act of instantaneous writing. During the process of writing, these comments were projected in the theatre lobby and later that night made available on the websites http://www.impulstanz.com and http://derstandard.at.
A selection of the texts by Jeroen Peeters is available on Sarma, in a slightly edited version, sometimes with a postscript. Two essays elucidate the project Afterwords and reflect on its poetical and political implications. To retrieve the material, search under: ‘Afterwords’.

Camouflage reminds of this principle 'mimicry': the ability of some insects to behave themselves like their natural environment, to appear as a leaf or a branch. They have an enormous flexibility to appear and disappear, decide about their presence, although biologists found out they also suffer from neurasthenia, losing their identity to a highly confusing extent.

The performers seem to have difficulties to inscribe themselves in their environment, in space, even to present themselves through language, as in a social space. They are not recognising each other or themselves anymore, as they were in a realm of invisibility.

An off-stage voice has to ask one of them to present herself, to use at least some words in order to be visible, to be there at all. The other one asks repeatedly to be watched, by everyone in the audience if possible. As if the whole world has disappeared for them. Jacques Brel sings Ne me quitte pas...


The performers enter again through the curtains, both hiding behind a black piece of cloth that is held up. Or they are dressed in blue, watching at the clouds hoping to see people emerge. The fading light takes away their last bit of hope. A tragedy of invisibility, even the spectators are puzzled if they have seen anything at all.


Postscript November 2002: The performance ‘Camouflage’ hardly received applause on the evening I wrote this Afterwords text, which made the dramaturgy surpass the piece itself and make a strange link to its (non-)reception – which can be regarded as an audience performance.