Nicola Stephenson experiences ‘Still Alive’

Juncture – Day 18
Thu 22 Mar

Aurora Lubos – Still Alive
blog post by Nicola Stephenson

Nicola Stephenson visits Still Alive - Juncture 2012 (c) Yorkshire Dance

Still Alive is an installation and performance by the Polish artist Aurora Lubos, who has worked with the Dance Theatre of Gdansk and Vincent Dance Theatre.   I wait outside the room for my turn to enter the interior of the installation and while I wait I read the scribbles posted on the outside walls, a detective searching for clues without trying to pre-assume anything.

Mmm… soap, brush, lipstick, honey, grapes, Easter cake, bread… ok… and soil, grain, tools, scissors, nails, knives, scalpel… evidence of a child or a baby; breast milk, toys. And then more disturbingly, “Bring me the axe. Daddy, daddy, don’t hit kids” and then, a message from the interior “Still Alive”.

So, how bad did it get I wonder? Is that ‘still alive’ a message of hard-won triumph, or a defeated and weary observation? By the time I go into the installation, somehow I’m not expecting a bed of roses.

Inside I find five tiny rooms, four occupied by the traces of childhood and motherhood as, I assume, experienced by the artist Aurora Lubos.

These are a mixture of full-sized photographs and objects to smell. What is represented here feels like a struggle lying somewhere between the power and intimacy that comes from being a source of life and nourishment to her child and a hard battle to hold the line against implied violence of a father, a lover, the medical establishment.

Finally in the fifth room the artists and I come face to face, her defiant vulnerability is all she wears, while literally all around her float the remnants and traces of her experience, hanging from wires creating a delicate cage or protective layer, depending how you see it. Our gazes meet, are held and there is a difficulty to be resolved: do I see her as an object in the room, or do I see her as a woman that I should reach out to? Which of course is the dilemma, beauty and challenge of the performance, especially one, of compelling intimacy, where a moment of real connection is offered to be made and cannot be denied.

Nicola Stephenson visits Still Alive (2) - Juncture 2012 (c) Yorkshire Dance

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