Magazine article Artforum International

Feeling the Part: Kathy Noble on Wojciech Kosma

Magazine article Artforum International

Feeling the Part: Kathy Noble on Wojciech Kosma

Article excerpt

TWO WOMEN lie reclining in different positions on a matte-black foam floor. "How are you?" asks one. "I'm better than yesterday," replies the other. As they continue to chat, they begin to move--pacing and swerving around each other--surrounded by an audience sitting on the floor along the four walls. "How was your Tinder date?" asks one. "It was really good. She was supercute," replies the other.

This was the tentative beginning to Jessica LLEWELLYN TIMOTHY DWAYNE WOJCIECH YUNUEN, the latest installment in a project instigated in 2011 by Wojciech Kosma. The premise is simple: The performers (here, Kosma, Jessica Lauren Elizabeth Taylor, Llewellyn Reichman, Timothy Murray, Dwayne Browne, and Yunuen Rhi), whose names make up the work's title (which shifts according to its participants, each time it is presented), use their own experiences to improvise dialogue and movement that explore the psychological and physical dimensions of human relationships, intimacy, and self-exposure. The performance is never the same but is collaboratively made anew each time by its actors.

Kosma studied computer science and music composition before moving into experimenting with performance via relational improvisation between himself and two other performers. These were private interactions, but he eventually debuted the work publicly in Berlin, with a series of presentations that were a part of The--family. The Chisenhale Gallery version, JESSICA LLEWELLYN TIMOTHY DWAYNE WOJCIECH YUNUEN, Consisted of three "public rehearsals"--one of which was followed by a discussion with artist and writer Hannah Black--and a final "performance." Kosma provided the participants with what he called a "free" space in which they could stretch--and sometimes snap--the limits of what is considered socially acceptable behavior among friends. (Kosma's collaborators are mostly professional dancers and actors; however, they were not recruited for their skills but met by chance, socially.)

The rehearsals varied in intensity. Performers chewed gum; talked about family, race, and relationships; ran; yoga-posed; and danced around one another, teasing out different modes of friendship, love, and sexuality through their physical and vocal pacing. The frank discussions of personal experiences and the awkwardness (for participants and audience alike) of never knowing what might occur next, along with moments of extreme physical intimacy--one performer stuck her head inside a male performer's T-shirt and another kissed and licked a fellow performer's feet--were effectively affective.


In contrast, the "performance" felt strangely banal, akin to unedited footage from a reality-TV show, and was described to me as a "flop" by a friend who attended it. …

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