PME-ART has given carte blanche to the artists Kamissa Ma Koïta and Elena Stoodley, and the project Survival Technologies is the result of this remarkable collaboration. The work is a vibrant gathering that considers how different ways of coming together might in and of themselves become technologies for survival. In six interconnected, escalating movements, the performers’ physical and rhythmic interactions spar with The Machine, a real-time computer algorithm that conjures up all the familiar and unfamiliar ways we love, hate, make use of and fight against the machine logics that surround us.
Taking place in the round – with the audience both witnessing and immersed in the action – and bringing together essential questions and backgrounds from visual art, dance, theatre, music, Afrocentric traditions and lived experience, Survival Technologies employs an unexpected, everchanging balance between structure and improvisation. Waves of dancing and drumming build upon each previous movement as, whether we realize it or not, a story is being told, inviting the spectator to fully consider whether they are part of the dance or on the side of the machine.
PME-ART - which refers, among other things, to Pretty Much Everything - is a loosely defined Montreal-based interdisciplinary group. Through explorations and innovations over the last twenty plus years, the group has consistently partnered with other artists to devise new collaborative projects, giving rise to unusual performances that combine theatre, music, literature, visual art, poetry, and philosophy, based on both theoretical and practical research.
Full of paradoxes and contradictions, the work is often destabilizing. Such destabilization is not only about art; it echoes the social and personal discomfort so often encountered in daily life. PME-ART believes acknowledging uncomfortable realities (instead of pretending they are not there) is of fundamental importance to developing generous and unpredictable critical approaches.
The National Creation Fund’s investment of $185,000 supports an enhanced development process, which engages more performers and an expanded creative team in residences and rehearsals in Canada and Norway. During the residencies, the artists will collaborate on dramaturgy, movement and physical work, the development of The Machine’s programming and algorithms, and the integration of all the scenic and technical elements.
Co-producers: Festival TransAmériques, Forum Freies Theater (Düsseldorf), Festspillene i Nord-Norge (Harstad).
Funders: Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and Conseil des arts de Montréal.
Developed with support from the National Arts Centre’s National Creation Fund.
Premiering in 2024.