No Cave: Mette Edvardsen’s “Black”

You may have noticed that the last few days’ posts have been focused on contemporary ‘conceptual’ dance. The reason for this is rather personal and somewhat perverse. On Thursday morning I bent down to pick up a pillow from the floor while making the bed and suddenly experienced a sharp pain to my lower back, on the right side. As the pain didn’t go away over the weekend, I went to the doctor today and was diagnosed with sacroiliiosis – an inflammation of the your sacroiliac joint (where the lower spine – the sacrum – and pelvis connect). Throughout the time of enduring this pain and not knowing what it was, I have been reading about the supple and strong bodies of contemporary dancers and choreographers, almost as if to make a promise to myself that when I recover from this, I too will turn to dance (or at least yoga) to make myself more aware of the limits and potential of my body.

Today, to acknowledge how the source of this hidden pain has been revealed to me, I wanted to share the following video of Mette Edvardsen’s Black within the framework of, yes you’ve guessed it, Plato’s analogy of the cave. Yet while you watch this film, I want you to try to forget everything you know about the cave. Forget the prisoners sitting facing the back of the cave. Forget their chains. Forget the parade of objects behind them. Forget the shadows created on the wall. Forget the fire that generates these shadows. Forget the opening of the cave at the back. Forget the released prisoner. Forget his escape and return. Instead, focus on your own body. Examine your skin. Contemplate your muscles. Dwell on your organs. Think about your bones. In your thoughts, find your sacrum. Imagine how it connects to your pelvis, first on your left, then on your right. Now contemplate a pain in this area. Consider how this pain flows out from this area, radiating, making you shift in your chair, calling on your to anxiously rub the area with your hand. The pain intensifies, distracting you from what you are tying to focus on. Now, as you are doing all of this – watching the video, thinking of your imaginary sacroiliiosis – consider the following question: what does Plato’s analogy of the cave look like without the cave? All we would have are bodies in space watching other bodies in space. What would it mean for the prisoners – even the philosopher who leaves and returns – instead of looking at the shadows, started thinking about their own bodies as objects? What would they feel? The pain in their chained neck, their sore back, their aching sacrum. Then, when you have finished watching Black, go and research Mette Edvardsen’s next work: No Title.

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