The audience is therefore confronted with their ignorance and their conformity, because the two go together. Classical training and movement diverts attention away from other approaches and other systems of bodily movement, tossed aside out of contempt or indifference. This is because the body is the very site of judgement: it is ‘beautiful’ or ‘ugly’, it is ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’, it is ‘white’ or ‘black’. The “MONUMENTs” serie is not, in this sense, culturalist, because this distribution of perception is of little importance. That’s why, in “MONUMENT 0”, in 2014, Eszter Salamon puts up signs listing all of the wars between 1913 and 2013. She brought the dancers out of the obscurity, out of the dark night of all the imperialism and colonialism that has eroded humanity.
This undertaking harbours a desire to decentre and de-index dance, which becomes particularly evident through the use of the voice: sometimes violent, as a cry, or moan; sometimes as an inarticulate language of emotion and affect. The bodies in Eszter Salamon’s works are not mute. They are speaking beings who, as such, come to resemble one another: neither beautiful nor ugly, neither man nor woman, neither black nor white. They are thus indifferent, stripped back to their barest singularity. This is what Eszter Salamon explored by giving voice to the life of her namesake… Eszter Salamon (“Eszter Salamon, 1949”). It is this will that is at work in her adoption of the acts and gestures of the great Valeska Gert: iconoclastic and provocative, grotesque and corrosive. Eszter Salamon and Boglàrka Börcsök proposed an innovative, nomadic experience in Brussels, both inside and outside the Villa Empain (2017).
Eszter Salamon’s “MONUMENTs” are first and foremost concerns ‘documents’ in the original sense of the word. Document comes from the Latin word documentum, which means lesson. They reveal what is sometimes hidden, omitted or forgotten. An inconvenient truth that tears us from our slumber. Disorder or outbursts that wake up the audience. It is a sort of flood which tears things from their (seemingly stable) moorings, which also submerges sacred sites. A “MONUMENT” piece can just as easily be seen in fragments, in museums, as it can as a whole, on a stage or elsewhere. For flexibility is the rule here, unencumbered by mainstream codes.
This flexibility requires research, work, practice. It is physical and intellectual, political and aesthetic. Though it might seem paradoxical at first glance, it stands in a direct correlation to radicality. It does not submit to pre-existing norms, but explores new worlds. Thus, Valeska Gert is not an ‘old’ reference, the wars don’t have to be ‘Western’, not all dances are of ‘European’ – and ‘learned’ – origin. In her “MONUMENTs” serie, Eszter Salamon provides critical disturbances which upset the ‘established order’ and disrupt the very history of dance as it is usually told. She choreo-graphs with a hammer in her hand. A new twilight of the idols (“Götzendämmerung”) demonstrates the urgency of decolonising dance.