Blog Performance Gertjan Franciscus by Christine Schering

The performance of Gertjan Franciscus is given at the occasion of the project Inner Stage by Snejanka Mihaylova at If I Can’t Dance. Snejanka starts with an introduction about her project and her poster. In the project she researches the economy of performance by selling a poster containing the introduction of her book Inner Stage Poster. The posters will allow her to publish the book. Besides Snejanka is also meant to give a performance as part of the project. Here she took the freedom to invite Gertjan Franciscus who, according to her, is a master in it. Considering how crowded the gallery is, and that people attempted to make reservations to be sure of a place, shows that she is not the only one.

Before the performance starts, Gertjan asks for silence during the performance and therefore everyone has to turn off their mobile phone. Besides he suggests to not make it too comfortable, because you should be able to move.

Then the performance begins and Gertjan transforms into a person with a white garment and headpiece that is covered with white beads. He looks like a pope or saint. Next he sits on his chair and an androgen person in a pink see-through dress enters the stage. He/she gives a mirror to Gertjan who starts to speak to his reflection and the crowd. Next the guy/girl comes in with a harp that has a parakeet on it. The parakeet falls from the harp and dies, because he a mistake the parakeet made. Than the guy/girl comes in with an eagle.

Suddenly three young woman in black enter the stage from the public. They dance and the guy/girl leaves the stage. The three woman dance graciously, but their nature is unclear to me. Are they good or evil? Are they demons or graces?

During their dance Gertjan and the guy/girl transform. Are the graces causing the transformations? Gertjan transforms into a green snake/serpent and the guy/girl transforms into a figure in gold that is reminiscent of the Sun King Louis XIV.

The performance broaches the subjects of power, mythology and religion. This is present in the different characters present in the performance and the props. During the last transformation I am wondering whether the serpent and golden figure are representing two sides of one person or subject. The golden figure seems to represent that power can do beautiful things, while the serpent can be associated with the deceptive aspects of power. Besides that the first white figure looks like a pope or saint, but has strange habits or rituals. The mirror to which he speaks, could be seen as a sign of vanity which is a sin in religion. The serpent is also reminiscent of the story of Adam and Eve where Eve gets deceived by the serpent.

So it could be said that the performance is showing us the ambiguity of things. On the one hand the characters look beautiful, but on the other hand their acting and function is ambiguous. This is enhanced by the androgen person entering the stage with the props. He/She enters the stage dressed like a girl with long white/blond hair, but with the physical traits of a guy. Also during his transformation into the golden figure it is unclear what his/her sex is. But does that matter? The performance questions our norms and values, and what can be accepted.

Because of the associations the performance evokes of power, mythology and religion, it is reminiscent of the performances of Joseph Beuys. Beuys also used rituals and mythology in for example Explaining Pictures to a Dead Hare, 1965.