Writing a novel about libertinage from his prison cell in 1785, Marquis de Sade declared that the nature of human passions authorizes crime. This moment in Western modernity marks the moral ambivalence in the bind between sexual liberation and power. While the legalization of pornography in Denmark in 1967 expanded the erotic freedom towards more gender equality, pornography today includes a politically wide range of expressions and uses, from queer and feminist stances to sexualized torture in war. The key to the affective power of pornography lies perhaps in the very root of the word: pernanai (Greek) = “to sell.” It explains how the pornographic “money-shot” operates in the climactic effects of “breaking news,” in the explosivity of action scenes or in brutality of authentic war porn.
Starting from the idea that pornography has leaked into many areas of society, Mette Ingvartsen explores the operations of the pornographic through a collection of erotic and affective materials. Most of them have little to do with explicit sex, yet they show some characteristics of the pornographic: expressions of cruelty, clinical precision, violence and pain, but sometimes also of laughter, excitement and thrill. By mixing physical action with narrative descriptions, a speculative choreography is created. The experiences that the viewer might undergo in this performance extend from imaginary to intense visceral sensations.
Premiere in 2017 at PACT Zollverein, Essen
The Red Pieces
21 pornographies is part of The Red Pieces, an ongoing series of performances in which Mette Ingvartsen explores relationships between sexuality and the public sphere. In it she investigates naked and sexualized bodies and their influence on societal structures. The series momentarily also comprises 69 positions, 7 Pleasures, to come (extended) and the performative conference The Permeable Stage in which a number of artists and theorist were invited to reflect upon, perform and discuss the politics of sexuality and how it travels across borders between public and private space.
Concept & Performance: Mette Ingvartsen
Light design: Minna Tiikkainen
Sound design: Peter Lenaerts
Set: Mette Ingvartsen & Minna Tiikkainen
Dramaturgy: Bojana Cvejic
Technical director: Hans Meijer
Assistant choreography: Dolores Hulan
Assistants production: Manon Haase & Elisabeth Hirner
Sound technician: Adrien Gentizon
Company Management: Kerstin Schroth
A production of Mette Ingvartsen / Great Investment
Co-production: Volksbühne (Berlin), PACT Zollverein (Essen), Kaaitheater (Brussels), NEXT festival / Kunstencentrum BUDA (Kortrijk), Les Spectacles vivants – Centre Pompidou (Paris), Dansehallerne (Copenhagen), BIT Teatergarasjen (Bergen), Julidans (Amsterdam), CCN2 – Centre chorégraphique national de Grenoble
With the support of Nanterre-Amandiers, Centre Dramatique National, Musée de la Danse/Centre Chorégraphique National de Rennes et de Bretagne & Kustenwerkplaats Pianofabriek
Funded by: The Flemish Authorities, The Flemish Community Commission (VGC) & The Danish Arts Council