|Mariangela López in El Regreso|
(photo: Oskar Landi)
In her new solo, El Regreso--commissioned by and presented at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center--Mariangela López starts out lying prone on the floor, head and upper back obscured in a tangle of brightly-colored costumes recognizable from two of her earlier works. She's wearing her history, encased in it, perhaps worn down by it, with only the small of her back and legs in fuschia tights visible. She remains still for a very long time until music rouses her. As she gradual stretches and unfolds limbs and fabrics, she displays gnarly textures and layers. Most dramatically, she wraps her head in these cloths of many colors, starting to evoke, for me, sculptor (and flamboyant self-sculptor) Chakaia Booker who I remember seeing walking city streets adorned in one or another mammoth headdress constructed of disparate cloths.
López sculpts herself like Booker and like a Kabuki artist, taking her time. For a while, you cannot see her eyes for the headwrap, and then you do. Through shifts in energy behind her gaze--glazed at first, then alert, sparkling--she lets the audience detect the minute changes that transform a pile of discards into a container of intelligence, even imperious nobility, before slipping into other states of being and tokens of sensory experience. Having divested herself of her costumes, she might lash the floor with them, striking quite close to our feet, or attack the bunched up fabric with canine ferocity. Or she might create a broad circle with the costumes, calmly fussing over that circle's curvature. For some reason, it must be perfect. She pinches it here and there, smooths it out.
In El Regreso (The Return), I see an artist at work on herself and her materials, never at rest, pulled by past and by future.
ACCIDENTAL MOVEMENT/Mariangela López continues through Saturday, February 28 with performances at 7:30pm. On Friday, February 27, stay for a post-show talk with López facilitated by Marya Warshaw. For information and tickets, click here.
The inaugural Making Space spring season continues at Gibney through June 27. Click here for the complete schedule.