The series Fold (Tanzfabrik) ends the year with works concerned with ghosts and demons. In The Multiplicity of the Other shown from the 30.11 until 2.12.2023, Ixchel Mendoza Hernández dwells on the Other as a ghostly presence in one’s own body.
The Multiplicity of the Other starts with an apparition. The figure in the prologue is hard to discern at the centre of semi-circular seating. Our eyes, accustomed to perceiving the outside world, now perceive themselves and the conditions of seeing. Some audience members turn away or hold their hand in front of their face. An insect flies across the beam of light and then darkness envelops the rows of seats.
A portal constructed from neon strip lighting appears around the solo performer Ixchel Mendoza Hernández. She is standing with her legs apart wearing shorts and high boots, divided plaits fall down her back: an avatar at the start of a game, waiting for a new life. Moon blue light covers the scene, water drips. Then a voice out of nowhere starts to whisper. It tells the story of an alternative genesis in which we are all made of the same particles, subject to an infinite flow of constant change, fuelled by a momentum beyond the self. The avatar turns to us with stuttering gestures and head jerks like the clumsy animations of early computer games. We left our bodies too quickly wanting to become concepts and forgetting the existence of others in us. Like an oracle, the figure professes the world will continue to exist without us. It is unclear if she is foreseeing sickness or a blessing.
Over a number of shifting lit scenes and soundscapes, Ixchel Mendoza Hernández skillfully transforms herself, embodying chimeric beings from the animal to the machine, Frankenstein monsters and crawling existences imprisoned in the hologram-like light portal, evoking images of the hounds of hells, Kaspar Hauser or Gollum. From Echo and Narcissus’ own voice and reflection seeking home ground, her body winds in convulsions and is abruptly thrust from one uncanny form of being to the next. Every now and then, further portals flicker on. Transparent curtains partially reveal similar isolated beings in a parallel universe, a possible past or future.
What is the point of this dystopic exercise in multitudes? Using fast forward and impressive precision, we are presented the history of a humanity which attempts through omissions and specific attributes to suppress the Other – and in so doing creates monstrosities that literally counterattack the physical and psychological integrity of the self. When, as here, the Other is purely a function of the self in a kind of endless loop of exorcism, what hopeless lonely trap do we find ourselves in?
Finally, the avatar disappears behind the transparent room dividers, moving slowly through organic forms of solidified water and hanging plants until we cannot see her anymore. We are also invited to enter this beyond, where one finds QR codes to scan. Before I take my telephone out, I observe how the people around me are seeking the “virtual reality” in the space. All of a sudden, I see protagonists in the melancholy setting of an archaeological burial ground, people searching for an intangible past and the stories therein that tell of a better future.
English translation by Isabel Robson