Ellen Söderhult On Studies of Fantasmatical Anatomies

It started off with the relief of realizing that I wouldn’t have to use my eyes for some time and that I was invited to lie down on a fluffy white mattress! Bliss on a Friday afternoon! But this was only the beginning. Entering a beautiful space with a floor mostly covered with the soft and fluffy white mattresses, with black balloons hovering a bit above the floor I lied down on my back and closed my eyes. 

For the following, approximately 60 min, my eyes were resting and no social interaction was asked of me. During this time I indulged in sensation and created my own graphics for what can maybe be described as an analogue, mental video game with you as the graphic designer, aided by magnificent sound effects performed live by Anne Jurén, multiple objects and Gry Tingskog. The inner graphic design was also, although more indirectly, aided by anatomy images, posters and bodily sensation and memory. I dove into an experimental, anatomical experience, challenging my imagination, guided by the voice of the narrator. The piece resembled a memory from the time after lunch in the kindergarden I was in as a child: I remember being read to while resting on a mattress, in a room with many, also resting and silent, friends. There was something very comforting about resting on my back in a room full of people also being read to, both in the performance and in the childhood memory. The sharing of an experience took place without engaging in something as a group, with the social interaction that comes with that. This was more like being alone, but together. There was also something comforting with that what was being read to us was not a story or a fairytale in the common sense of the word, but something like a verbally guided journey inside my own body, aided by the splendid sound effects and Jurén’s calm voice. This videogame was a mostly inside body story. It was a submission to sensation, and perception, a guiding of attention focusing in on bodily sensation without submitting to the imperative to enjoy or work hard with turning that experience or sensation into a positive, strengthening, empowering or useful thing. At times it felt close to dancing, as perception and imagination became the material building blocks of experience, and of the piece. The sound effects merged and transformed the images of my insides as pictured through anatomy books, made it 3-dimensional, turned it into a multi-sensorial experience where texture became more tangible then shape or form. This focusing in on the textural aspects of hearing and feeling in a way made sense in a house where Grand, full and spectacular expressions often fill the big spaces. What happened and what I heard was both uncanny, overwhelming and sometimes pleasurable. Letting sound and described images, movements and sensations form experiences and images in your body felt specifically exciting in a place of regular visual overflow: the opera house. 

Jurén’s piece was an interesting negotiation of my own bodily perception, through exploring the format of performance, facilitating for myself to be the graphic designer of my inner, imaginary but also perceptual journey through the piece and my material body and its many textures. I had a wonderful and experimental time inside this piece. 


Ellen Söderhult


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