Pièce touchée No. 1 is a performance designed to be experienced only through the touch sense. The eyes of the visitor are bound before he or she is led into a room he/she has not seen before and can only imagine. A 20 minutes piece is then performed in silence by one performer on the body of the visitor, who is not moving or active. It follows a notated score.
The piece can be compared to a virtual painting for which the visitor’s body is the canvas, or a music or dance piece, where the notes or gestures would be played on the body of the “listener” (who ends up being at the same time receptor, interface, instrument and performance space). The visitor's awareness of his or her own body architecture becomes heightened.
As in music or dance, phrases and a syntax are used. The structure is abstract, non-narrative, and only very short parts are improvised.
There are no objects, music, linguistic or visual elements involved. The performers use only their own bodies. The visitor can with a simple sign stop taking part in the performance if he/she wishes to.
The piece means to question our sense hierarchy (the touch sense being traditionally considered one of the lower senses), our privileging of visual/auditory perception and our becoming transhuman by creating an experience at the opposite of disembodiment and virtualization.
Its first aim was to explore the potential of performance work dedicated to the touch sense, while striving to go beyond the usual expectations or associations to touch – be it therapy (massage), the sexual or (in the dance world) contact improvisation.
Concept: Kenji Ouellet
Performance: Kenji Ouellet, Katharina Weinhuber
The piece being non-visual, I decided at the time to forbid photographs or a video documentation. It was documented by collecting written reactions, descriptions and comments from visitors who experienced the piece).
Excerpts from the documentation:
“A symphony of the tactile. (...) Maximum degree interaction.”
-C. Rusiecki, theater critique (Bucarest)
"Then it felt like I was touched by some kind of alien (from the deep ocean), which was very giant, soft and had numerous antennas and a warm backbone. Some kind of shellfish, probably."
-A Shanghai visitor (the performers use only their own bodies)
“It was a if there were drawings or images on the body, abstract images, which had different degrees of sharpness or flatness.”
„This work is changing the connotation of touch, it is subversively questioning, giving pleasure, waking up the senses and perception, crossing boundaries, being intimate and abstract at the same time.”
-A. Kaya, curator, Crossbreeds festival, (Vienna)
“One cannot here talk about the overcoming of the separation between the stage and the audience space, discovered long ago. The overcoming itself has been overcome, now the stage is the audience space, more, the stage is the body .”
-R. Knoll, Spots magazine.
„It was like experiencing a modern classical piece of music, atonal at times,
„I heard music, something like experimental sounds“ .
(the performance happens in total silence, but a few reported hearing music, not heard by anybody else in the performance space.)
„In short, the performance rendered me shapeless.“
E4 (2006) and Biesdorf Castle, (Berlin). Crossbreeds 2007 (Festival for Dance, Performance and New Media, Vienna), Tanztendenzen Festival for Contemporary Dance and Performance 2007 (Greifswald, Germany), Intrude366 performance series, Zendai Museum of Modern Art (Shanghai), Arena festival for the Young Arts (Erlangen, Germany), Man.in.fest. experimental Theater Festival (Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2008), GrenzArt 1 performance Festival (Kirschau, Germany).