Keren Cytter – The Lady of the Lake
I tried to make a performance that will include as many theatrical elements as possible and be about nothing.
Keren Cytter’s stories pick up on social alienation and the banalities and horrors of everyday life, especially those generated by intrapersonal relationships. The Lady of the Lake (2021) is a theatrical piece that Cytter has written for Museum Tinguely AHOY! It involves a dialogue, which isn’t a dialogue, and which is performed by the actors Fernanda Farah and Damian Rebgetz.
The piece combines storytelling, song, dance and stand-up comedy. It is also partly inspired by the biographies of the actors. The two figures address the audience in monologues, recalling formative events and the evolution of their life stories: These include tales of belonging to a rowing club during childhood – «Can you imagine how it feels to be in a club you don’t want to be in, doing a sport you didn’t know even existed? It’s called childhood, I know» – or of five husbands, from wine grower, perfumer, jazz musician and paediatrician to journalist. In the process, the monologues continue like lines, sometimes crossing and sometimes running in parallel. The actors interrupt each other and jostle disruptively, centre stage. Every now and again there is a brief dialogue between the two, which immediately, however, disintegrates back into separate narratives.
The penetratingly sharp and sometimes absurdly comic text meanders, guided by contentual and phonetic associations as well as by the movements of the actors. Again and again, one comments upon the narrative or picks up on the gestures of the other with their own gesture, like a «physical echo». This structure is held together by two constantly repeating elements – a rowing movement and a swing of the arm accompanied by an «ahoy!» – and the pentagram traced out on the floor that guides the movements of the actors in the space: a backwards and forwards within the closed figure of the circle. The piece appears to break the rules of the game – and self-reflectively comments upon its own medium – by offering observations on theatrical elements or even performance art, «more elegant, more intelligent … than theatre».
The artist has interlaced the text with her own pithy metaphors and precise analyses of contemporary society. With dry humour and, at the same time, a sense of pain, Cytter’s piece offers us a glimpse of the singularised and performative social context of today.
About the artist
Keren Cytter (*1977) studied at the Avni Institute for Art in Tel Aviv from 1997 to 1999 and at De Ateliers in Amsterdam from 2002 to 2004 on a scholarship. After a period in Berlin from 2005 to 2012, she has since lived and worked in New York. The artist is known for her video works, theater pieces and drawings. In 2012, she founded the dance company D.I.E NOW (Dance International Europe Now). She has also written five novels and three children’s books.
The artist’s works have been shown in solo exhibitions at Kunstmuseum Winterthur (2020), Center for Contemporary Art Chicago (2015), and Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, (2014), among others. In 2021 the Guggenheim Fellowship was awarded to Keren Cytter.
Venue: Frankfurter Kunstverein
Date: Thursday, Septemer 9, 8 pm
Please pre-register via firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioned by Museum Tinguely, Basel as part of Museum Tinguely AHOY!
Text and direction: Keren Cytter
Song texts: Keren Cytter
Song composition: Andreas Schlaegel
Actors: Fernanda Farah and Damian Rebgetz
Curator, Museum Tinguely: Dr. Sandra Beate Reimann
Production Manager: Attila Gaspar