MANUFACTORY is a live installation and stage performance inspired by the history of working practices, from early craftsmen to the daily rhythms of modern factories and production lines. Conceived and directed by the artist group Transforma together with choreographer Johanna Hwang and long-term collaborator, musician/composer Sascha Ring, MANUFACTORY re-imagines the factory floor as an intimate stage set and condensed interpretation of the history of manual labour through live video, physical choreography, and sound.
Four performers or workers perform repetitive, choreographed tasks in a production line setting. Four screens around their workspace show a stream of live camera images capturing details of the production process, while microphones amplify the sounds and actions created by the workers’ motions, and feed the score created by Sascha Ring.
Situated within a stage design which serves the functionality of the work, the tasks are based around core raw materials and goods (earth, wood, plastic…) and range from precise sorting to more physical labour. Working in un-syncopated shifts, the workers sift, shovel, mix, sort, pack, and unpack various materials in a choreography of process; gestures and body movements reference existing workplace practices. Released from their operational context and logical outcome, the workers’ actions become a set of codes of human labour. These codes become recognizable through repetition, and allude to a set of common and identifiable acts of work. In varying the speed and dynamic of these actions they appear as acts of magic at times, and cumbersome loads or repetitive spasms at others.
The work process is filmed live, giving the audience a detailed view of each task, and isolating single gestures to make micro-performances in their own right. By shifting the focus, these images - condensed and stylised, become vignettes of otherwise imperceptible moments, and are projected onto screens located in and around the workspace. A modular synthesiser system developed by Sascha Ring provides the score to MANUFACTORY. Connected to on-stage sensors, the synth produces sound cycles which react to the workers’ actions. In turn, the score triggers cues for the performers to follow. The resulting series of phasing loops dictate the core tempo of the piece and create a system of interdependence.
Transforma are a visual artist collective who have gained a reputation for their approach to creating original audiovisual performances, installations, projections for music, theatre, and dance. They have developed their own language within the live visual experience by creating images and atmospheres which establish a connection between the material properties of their subject, abstract storytelling, and a hands-on approach to production. The group counts long standing collaborations with numerous artists, directors, and musicians, and have performed live and exhibited at many major festivals and venues around the world. Transforma was formed in 2001.
Sascha Ring composes lullabies and hymns. He has developed a unique, emotional cosmos throughout his seven albums and various singles. He is a sound explorer and adventurer for whom no sound is too strange or unformed, and a poet for whom no nuance of feeling is too subtle to find expression. Sometimes he comes across as a hyper-productive genius who makes the most improbable connections and enters into unlikely musical dialogues. At other times he is the doubter who hesitates and tears holes in his own discography with his reflectiveness. His twelve-year career as a recording artist has made him as familiar to his fans as an old friend—yet still it is impossible to guess what his next move will be.
Ring has worked with Transforma on numerous projects since 2003, including The Lion In Winter at the Deutsches Theatre Berlin, as well as the Devil’s Walk, Krieg und Frieden, and “Soundtracks”. For this most recent solo tour, he performed music created for different film and theatre projects (the movie scores to Equals or Il Giovane Favoloso, for example).
Johanna Hwang received her dance education at the Heinz-Bosl-Stiftung, Ballet Aacademy Munich. She danced at the Staatsballett Berlin under the direction of Vladimir Malakhov where she became a demi-soloist. After several years Mauro Bigonzetti invited her to join the Aterballetto in Italy as a soloist where she danced also under the direction of Cristina Bozzolini.
Her repertory includes choreographies of Marius Petipa, Vladimir Malakhov, Patrice Bart, George Balanchine, Maurice Béjart, John Cranko, William Forsythe, Angelin Preljocaj, Mauro Bigonzetti, Johan Inger, Jiri Kylian, any many others.
She is a guest teacher at Hessischen Staatsballett, Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company Jacobo Godani, Friedrichstadt Palast Berlin, Stuttgarter Ballett, Boston Ballet, Opernballett der Deutschen Oper, Croatian National Theatre Split and the assistant and rehearsal director of the dance theater producer Helena Waldmann.
MANUFACTORY was produced by Barbican and TodaysArt, with residency support from Mapping Festival. The project is supported by the ENCAC network and mèq festival.
Territory: worldwide → Remco Schuurbiers