Meg Stuart--an American now based in Brussels with her company, Damaged Goods--combines a radically fundamental, even primitive approach to movement with avant-garde, sometimes high-tech visual support. The results are fascinating. Her 1997 Splayed Mind Out opens with several dancers in an erotic-looking pile, body parts caressing other body parts, the sole of a foot stroking a shin, for example. Gradually the figures separate, and we realize that what looked like sexual interest or at least affection was only the action of the autonomic nervous system, as the dancers continue their spasmodic gestures but with no object--or no object outside themselves. In the second section, Stuart uses a video close-up to enlarge the actions of a dancer who moves her scapulae--they look like rolling hills really rolling--massages them, and finally writes letters and words on her back with a pen, then smudges them out. Appetite, the piece Damaged Goods will perform here, promises to be another evocative experiment. A collaboration with visual artist Ann Hamilton, it features a thin layer of clay over the stage eroded by slender streams of water; Stuart and Hamilton describe it as "a haptic work in which the space and the body are considered as membranes, which peel, leak and moult. The space and the body mark and absorb each other." In an interview Stuart remarked, "I have always wanted to experience what it would feel like to be absorbed by something or someone. It is the ultimate and most frightening form of physical contact." Wednesday; Thursday, October 29; and next Friday, October 30, at 8 in the theater of the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; $14-$17. Call 312-397-4010 for tickets and information. --Laura Molzahn
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Chris Van Der Burght.