Death by Landscape 

By Alix Eynaudi with Han-Gyeol Lie and Paul Kotal

Death By Landscape, EXCERPT: a pre-premiere, a second night, Janet, a cadence out of time, une balade dans le bois, a melody sung in darkness, a sting removed by fiction,a waste of time, an act of archeography, a thank-you-dance, a dance to under-grow.

Subject to change
Alix Eynaudi

Alix Eynaudi, Cécile Tonizzo, Mark Lorimer, Hugo Le Brigand, Han-Gyeol Lie (Artists)
Paul Kotal & Han-Gyeol Lie (sound design and music)
Lichtdesign TBD
An Breugelmans (costume design)
Cécile Tonizzo (drawings on curtain)
Anne Faucheret (research/dramaturgy)
Ujjwal Kanishka Utkarsh (films)
mollusca productions (production)

coproduction brut Wien, European Capital of Culture Bad Ischl Salzkammergut 2024
residencies Kunstencentrum BUDA, Volkskundemuseum Wien, Rennweg Studios
supported by the Cultural Department of the City of Vienna, BMKOES / Federal Ministry for Art, Culture, Public Service and Sport.

Ce spectacle a bénéficié du soutien de l’Institut français d’Autriche / This project is supported by the Institute Français d’Autriche.

5. Oktober 2024

About the project

“TWO ADOLESCENT GIRLS GO for a hike. They are away from home, at summer camp, and they have left the main group of campers to wander up a rocky hillside thick with trees. The girls are extremely close, as young girls often are; their thoughts and feelings and bodies are all wound up with each other’s. As they’re walking, one of the girls steps off the main path to pee behind a tree. A minute later, her friend hears a strange shout. She runs into the brush, but no one is there. The girl is gone. Disappeared. All that’s left are trees.” 

This is the premise of a 1990 short story by Margaret Atwood called “Death by Landscape.” Atwood’s story is told from the perspective of the surviving woman, decades later. Her friend never reappeared, and the loss has haunted the narrator for her whole life. Meanwhile, she has developed an obsession with landscape paintings of forests. She collects them and covers the walls of her home with them. Staring at the paintings in her room one evening, she remarks that they seem to “open inward on the wall, not like windows but like doors.” And sometimes, after looking at a painting for several hours, she thinks she glimpses her lost friend in the image-not as she was, in human form, or hidden among the trees, but as a tree. She admits that she has come to believe the hillside gained a new tree the day of the disappearance. If you take the narrator’s conclusion at face value, the death at the center of “Death by Landscape” is not a death at all. It’s a transition, a twin becoming of girl and tree. The figure becomes part of the landscape, and so the landscape becomes a kind of figure. Situating her aging narrator in a room full of landscapes, Atwood presents the person-plant transition as something like an optical trick. In that gap of perception, figure and landscape merge or flip. As the narrator says: “There are no backgrounds in any of these paintings, no vistas; only a great deal of foreground that goes back and back, endlessly, involving you in its twists and turns of tree and branch and rock.” The word landscape is typically used to suggest the passive, the inert, the natural- the plant, animal, and mineral world that constitutes a backdrop for a human actor. But here, the sudden absence of a human actor occasions a sudden presence: the presence of landscape, the presence of plants.”

Lacing their endeavours and their craft with landscapes and their lack thereof, Han-Gyeol, Paul and Alix will present a dance as invocation, a slow daily ethnographic practice that tiptoes on a piano’s keyboard, circumvoluting its keys through Han-Gyeol Lie and Paul Kotal’s combined technologies: a concert for the Salzkamergut.

How to rehearse forms of disengagement from (every) things that, in our daily forms of dancing and choreographing, working, crafting continue to reinstate cycles of violence, oppression, exhaustion? 

While the fact that dance is a field of experimentation where one can exercise acute critiques of the current conditions of existence (Lepecki, 2016) became tangible, so does the realization that any exercise, movement, phrase of movements is symptomatic of -at least- one ideology.