rock to jolt [ ] stagger to ash

Alexis Blake

Performance as a contemporary ode to the lament

Ticket sales via Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (no tickets available at this moment)

With the performance rock to jolt [ ] stagger to ash, Alexis Blake has made a contemporary ode to the lament. Blake won the Prix de Rome last year with this project, though the performance could only be shown during the opening because of the lockdown.

In this work, the American Blake, who resides in the Netherlands, seeks out the liberating, emancipatory power of uncensored and uncontrolled emotions. 

The lament was outlawed in Ancient Greece as an oppressive patriarchal tool. Blake has her performers break the silence. They express their bodies and voices in all sorts of ways to bring out what is being repressed or censored.

Performance as a contemporary ode to the lament

Ticket sales via Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (no tickets available at this moment)

With the performance rock to jolt [ ] stagger to ash, Alexis Blake has made a contemporary ode to the lament. Blake won the Prix de Rome last year with this project, though the performance could only be shown during the opening because of the lockdown.

In this work, the American Blake, who resides in the Netherlands, seeks out the liberating, emancipatory power of uncensored and uncontrolled emotions. 

The lament was outlawed in Ancient Greece as an oppressive patriarchal tool. Blake has her performers break the silence. They express their bodies and voices in all sorts of ways to bring out what is being repressed or censored.

In her work, Blake combines visual arts, performance and dance, and uses choreography, audio, video, smell and sculpture. The Prix de Rome jury praises Blake for her mastery of the principles of conveying emotion and how she is able to fully exploit the resonant space of the staircase; thus taking her place in a tradition of artists who have made this monumental staircase their own. It is crucial that Blake’s performance can be physically felt as well as intellectually understood.

Read less

dates

Wed June 15 1:45 PM

Fri June 17 6:30 PM

Sun June 19 4:30 PM

Mon June 20 4:30 PM

Prices

  • default € 23
  • Museumkaart € 3

language & duration

  • Language no problem

  • 45 minutes

Warning: this performance has loud noises.

Background

For her work rock to jolt [ ] stagger to ash, the American artist residing in the Netherlands Alexis Blake examines the lament. Its point of departure is the practice of laments in ancient Greece in the 6th century b.c.

Ban

This era saw a ban on the lament, a ritual performed by women as a way of mourning, protesting and processing loss. The men in power found it inappropriate for a city state, with its foundational democratic ideal of rational thoughts and speech.

The lament was women’s domain. The patriarchal ban introduced an important mechanism of exclusion and silencing that remains present to this day. Blake has her performers break this silence. They use their bodies to bring out what is repressed or censored.

Throughout history, women’s laments were often banned or neutralised in different ways by patriarchal systems. Together with the performers, Blake set out to discover the emancipating power of the uncensored and uncontrolled expression of deep emotions.

Undergo physically

The performance is a dramatic parade through the monumental stairwell of the Stedelijk Museum in which the performers do everything that is uncustomary in a museum ordinarily. They are seductive like sirens at one moment, when at another they roar like wounded animals. They whine, lament, let their pants down, spread their legs and tear into the audience. In this way, Blake confronts the old structures that attempt to keep women’s voices under control.

‘Silencing women has always been an important project of patriarchal culture, from ancient times to the present,’ writer Anne Carson says. Fragments of verses she translated from the ancient Greek poet Sappho are interwoven into the performance.

In this liberating lament, bodies are fully free and fully themselves. The energy, embodied emotions and the vibrations of the resonant sound in the stairwell make this a performance you need to undergo physically in order to fully experience it.

Blake also uses smell, which was specially designed by the smell artist Sissel Tolaas. It is the smell of decay. According to Blake, decay and laments follow the same underlying process. In her words: ‘Decay is, just like a lament, always subject to change and transition. It is a sign of our impermanence.’

  • Alexis Blake

    © Daniel Nicolas

  • rock to jolt [ ] jagger to ash

    © Daniel Nicolas

  • rock to jolt [ ] jagger to ash

    © Daniel Nicolas

  • rock to jolt [ ] jagger to ash

    © Daniel Nicolas

  • rock to jolt [ ] jagger to ash

    © Daniel Nicolas

credits

concept Alexis Blake choreography Alexis Blake composition Alexis Blake direction Alexis Blake graphic design Sandra Kassenaar, Dongyoung Lee garment Elisa van Joolen, Mika Perlmutter smell Sissel Tolaas dance Shari Ashley Labadie, Alice de Maio, Polina Mirovskaya, Gianine Strang vocals Sanem Kalfa, Logan Muamba Ndanou sound artist Ghaith Qoutainy sound engineer Hala Namer somatic therapy Amanda Macrae producer Helena Julian production Stedelijk Museum curator Britte Sloothaak with support by Mondriaan Fund, Outset Contemporary Art Fund

This performance is made possible by