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  • Tristan Koepke

statement on obifobifo

Updated: Jun 24

In my new multimedia experiement obifobifo, I explore hyperreality, a failure to escape capitalist realism, and a temporally unfixed body submerged in a landscape of garish consumerism. Exploring the writing of Franco “Bifo” Berardi, I utilize green screen capture, a live Zoom meeting, and captured video from 90 Day Fiancé and various television commercials from the late 20th century highlighting capitalist notions of rendering desire and consumption into a persistent stream of character, noise, and image. Through layering multiple iterations of myself, pre-recorded and live, performing the same choreographic score, obifobifo suggests notions of impossibility: of time (compressing time through layering multiple performances), of body (which Tristan is the “real” Tristan? And is a “present” or “past” Tristan more real than another?), and of creative expression (in a world dominated by semiocapitalism, can there be, in the words of critic Mark Fisher, a new “horizon of the thinkable?”).[1]



Similar to Berardi, obifobifo’s namesake, I employ philosopher Pierre-Félix Guattari’s notion of art functioning as chaoid. My work wrestles the chaotic fabric of contemporary semiocapitalism into a tangible, or at the very least sensed, experience that can be sorted, considered, and learned from. Guattari states, “art struggles with chaos but it does so in order to render it sensory.”[2] But what happens when the chaoid is generated through a fabric of sensory overload? How can meaning be sorted and processed?


Berardi comments that contemporary life includes an inundation of information and neurotic neoliberal production that pushes the creative self to a point of breaking. He suggests, “everywhere, attention is under siege. Not silence but uninterrupted noise, not Antonioni’s red desert, but a cognitive space overloaded with nervous incentives to act: this is the alienation of our times.”[3] This experience of alienation is linked to commodification of imagination and creativity. obifobifo takes up this challenge. The sampled television clips function as backdrop, set, and main drape for the screen-as-stage. They exemplify the saturated commodification of many concepts with undeniably corporeal manifestations, such as desire, love, discord, hunger, thirst, imagination and creative impulse. They both reveal and conceal my body(ies). They are “transversal flows of imagination, technology, desire“ that twist, turn, bounce, slam, and inundate the viewer.[4]



Berardi asks, “how is it possible to elaborate the infinite velocity of flows without being affected by the disaggregating effect of panic?”[5] I take up his question as an embodied inquiry, or challenge, or gesture. Nodding to contemporary Europeanist dance makers such as Trisha Brown and Neil Greenberg, both of whom explore crystallizing improvisational impulse through means of craft and choreography, my work explores reiteration of motif and movement, as Berardi’s expansive theories become my reiterated and discordant gestures. Performance scholar Rebecca Schneider theorizes gesture and reiteration as “as ongoing body-jumping performances that have the potential to carry history in different directions with each irruptive singularity.”[6] Although obifobifo explores the feeling of impossibility of freeing creative impulse from capitalist inevitability, there is also an atmosphere approaching rupture. Can the tension I propose lead to a breaking from, rather than a falling towards, futility?


[1] Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? (Hampshire, UK: Zero Books, 2009), 8. [2] Franco “Bifo” Berardi, The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy (Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2009), 136. [3] Berardi, The Soul at Work…, 108. [4] Berardi, 120. [5] Berardi, 126. [6] Rebecca Schneider, “That the Past May Yet Have Another Future: Gesture in the Times of Hands Up,” Theatre Journal 70, no. 3 (September 2018), 286.


Bibliography

Berardi, Franco. The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy. Los Angeles, CA: Semiotext(e), 2009.

Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? Hampshire, UK: Zero Books, 2009.

Schneider, Rebecca. “That the Past May Yet Have Another Future: Gesture in the Times of Hands Up.” Theatre Journal70, no. 3 (September 2018), 285-306. https://doi.org/10.1353/tj.2018.0056