Fabián Barba & Esteban Donoso: Stick together

For its 22nd edition, the interdisciplinary, multicultural Kunstenfestivaldesarts focuses on borders. Six artists who are presenting their work at the festival talk about frontiers and how their creations connect to this theme. This part: choreographers Fabián Barba & Esteban Donoso.

Slugs’ Garden/Cultivo de babosas by the Brussels-based Ecuadorian dancers and choreographers Fabián Barba and Esteban Donoso is a creation at the intersection of dance and installation art. In order to abolish the dichotomy between the Western norms of contemporary dance and the traditional dance of their homeland, which is far too easily perceived as an exotic curiosity, they neutralise sight and usher the audience into a garden in which the performers move around like slugs.

“Every border is a construct, but it does create a reality,” says Barba. “If we distinguish between the West and the rest of the world, between men and women, between passive and active, we draw borders. We thus make categories that you can classify and turn into hierarchies, and borders become a mechanism of control, exclusion, and repression. The fact that borders create hierarchies is also evident in the dance world where some Western centres of contemporary dance consider dance from the ‘peripheries’ as being outdated. One of the challenges for me is how to think about difference without creating a border.”

Creating borders is also connected to a primitive perception of danger, Donoso thinks. “Whatever is on the other side of the border is different and therefore a threat. Slugs’ Garden/Cultivo de babosas is about the way in which you relate to a particular environment. Do you enter a context in order to control it or to become part of it?”

“The question was how we could look at Ecuador’s dance tradition without an exorcising perspective,” Barba continues. “We wanted an approach in which our senses are open to the perception of heterogeneity without reducing the whole thing to something that was easily identifiable.”

Fabián Barba & Esteban Donoso: Slugs’ Garden/Cultivo de babosas. 6/05 > 14/05, La Bellone, Brussels

Kunstenfestivaldesarts 2017

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