Words by Francesca Matthys. GOING BERSERK was performed at APT Gallery on the 29th November as part of Fest en Fest 2022.
There is something striking about a black body indulging freely in rhythm, in movement, in that which grounds them. This is how GOING BERSERK by Marikiscrycrycry began. Immersing us in groove. Flooding our senses with uninhibited movement that felt like we were watching the performer dance alone in their bedroom. For a long time we were only seeing the performer’s bare back that glistened as they continued to exert themselves. Their blue running shorts and trainers that looked like they belonged on a promenade at the beach or at a gym, lifting weights. A succinct costume and yet loaded with much meaning.
‘GOING BERSERK follows a figure, the Goner, one who is lost beyond belief’. As Marikiscrycrycry continued to dance to a viral TikTok song, we as the audience began to lose ourselves in the rhythm, repetition, in the curves of the performer’s body. I continued to wonder why we never saw his back. Whether he was exploring avoidance, shame, perhaps even the power of the gaze placed upon black bodies in the commodification of performance, in motion, in moments that are merely these bodies existing. Whatever the meaning, this very intentional choice, I believe, caused the audience to stir in their seats, shift around on their cushions and wonder ‘What next?’, ‘How much longer can his body sustain?’
As the performer shook, dropped, spiralled and swirled their hips I imagine that to some that an outright display of sensuality may feel quite confrontational, uncomfortable as it either awakens their own desires or abjections. I however could not stop thinking about the pelvis and the significance of the first or root chakra that house the pelvis. The ability to ground oneself and find security within oneself as well as fulfilling one’s basic needs are located in the root chakra.
As the performer activated this space in their body I drifted off into an ideal world where the Goner was able to heal and ground themselves through pleasure, through the indulgence of their movement, through the practice of shaking, or something that at times resembled twerking. How we could all heal through self driven movement.
Shaking the body as a somatic practice is widely recognised as a tool to release tension and even regulate the nervous system. Almost everyone is familiar with twerking and how as a practice it has been seen as shameful, though as we progress as a humanity [in little ways] many individuals especially female identifying bodies have taken ownership of this form as a way to reclaim their sexuality and even heal traumas.
I also experienced playing towards the hand of an authoritative force in this looped dance. The pace of the movement was heavily driven by the music that got faster and faster throughout the opening part of the performance. An external force manipulating the performer’s body or asking them to uphold a certain standard. As the stakes get higher and the shakes get wilder, I wonder how much our bodies as artists are put under pressure, how much our bodies as artists of colour are demanded upon to even just receive support, recognition and visibility. Twerking for the bag.
I also noticed intervals of gestures that were integrated into this vocabulary, the iconic closed, raised fist gesture that is synonymous with the solidarity of oppressed groups or people. This contrasted with the dynamism of the dance and was a subtle reference to an ongoing revolution, an ongoing fight to exist without limitations and bounds.
As the catchy TikTok sound died down, the body before us purged what had been conjured up and spat out what looked like blood. They then rested and smoked from a vape. I felt their tiredness, their need to stop and take stock, to feel what had happened, what had been conjured up and left on a square of plastic in the centre of the floor. This too potentially seen as a logistical choice though as the blood was split, made me ponder on the many times individuals have washed their hands of the blood of others, chosen to not be involved as it did not affect them. It may have been at that moment or the moment thereafter that I perceived the performer’s body as that of a young black man at the grips of police brutality. The dancing made even more sense as an act of desperation, to do anything to survive. To please.
This physical performance soon transformed as Marikiscrycrycry began to vocalise their experience through a microphone spewing bars such as ‘I’m a goner …’ acknowledging their defeat. This tragic sentiment was echoed through their second costume choice that had these words and others written or embroidered on it.
The work ended with the performer splatting what I assume to represent blood again on a sheet of plastic that was hung up upstage of the gallery space. From our perspective all you could see was the substance being shed from the other side of the plastic, causing us to wonder and know that the fate of the Goner was not kind. Marikiscrycrycry shares that this work is part of an ongoing choreographic research strand exploring tools of horror making and the live context and this work definitely began to touch on the horridness that looms in our everyday realities.
As this is a work in process, there are many provocative threads that require some more weaving together, that which I am certain will develop intricately over time. In the same breath, as a developing work, it already holds such presence and resonance. The repetitive dancing and shaking that opened the work is something I could have easily watched for longer. It is brave and unique compared to many things I have seen in my time in London.