Church of Ignorance

part of the Foreign Tongues projects

In Church of Ignorance the imposing Dominikanerkirche is temporarily turned into a marketplace of wild languages, a kind of walk-in performative Library of Babel. Initially the body is, in this game, only „Corpus“ – a reservoir of slangs and dialects from all over Europe. Because the body, so the popular thesis, doesn’t lie; it serves us, in this sense, as sensorium, as transcriber of unknown sounds and noises.

The words being used in the liturgy of the Church of Ignorance are hard to understand, but the signs of the bodies, the results of the momentary, unrepeatable nature of gestural and facial communication are clearly decipherable. Liquid Loft’s performers carry with them acoustic traces of foreign tongues, creatures and spaces. They call up soundtrack sequences, which they rework , modulate and complement through dance. What, at first, appears to be a Babel of tongues, gets transformed through granular- and microsampling techniques, into a form of communication that surpasses its purely verbal meaning. Questions of identity are negotiated as mantras, faces veiled, bodies artificially extended. The manifold linguistic sculptures produce figures, which transcend into amorphous beings. Between the erratic flow of syllables and the Esperanto of the language of movement emerge choreographic tilted images and spiritual association-spaces.

For at the end of the anthropocene, when man will finally acknowledge that he failed the world, perspectives need to be newly adjusted, including (and especially) those of communication. Church of Ignorance is the utopian promise of evading the catastrophy, perhaps even to learn to resolve the contradictions of the post-modern world step by step and get a grip on its immense complexity.

Church of Ignorance is a part of the project-series Foreign Tongues in which Liquid Loft explore the complex interactions between verbal messages and their physical concomitants. Foreign Tongues approaches, with the vocabulary of body language, the often contradictory forms of communication. Starting point for the various performances are language recordings, which were produced as part of personal interviews in different regions of Europe.

Liquid Loft: Church of Ignorance

World premiere Donaufestival 2018

Stefan Grissemann

The path from believe to knowledge is far. In the Church of Ignorance all certainties have been undermined and one has to make do with assumptions and trust. A group of darkly veiled creatures are crouching in the portico of the Dominikaner church: deformed, shrouded beings, their physique and sound in constant transformation. Metamorphosis lies at the heart of this piece – from immobility it goes to wild movement, from calm to storm, tour-retour. The mutation of the sounds - their solidification into linguistic contexts, into mysterious monologues and impenetrable processes of communication – forms the acoustic equivalent to the ensemble’s physical- and mental leaps. There’s squeaking and creaking, crunching and rustling. There’s breathing, talking, singing. Synthetic laughter surges up, the sounds are digitally shredded, silence and noise flow into each other.

A meta-liturgy takes place in this Church of Ignorance, a ritual that doesn’t represent a specific religion, but rather the metaphysical itself. In it we find as much of a diffuse fear as of euphoria – solidification and unleashing lying side by side. As pillar saints, turned inwards and as if driven by internal forces, the performers move forward, literally crawling up the walls, revealing themselves as monk-like, messianic figures, only to fall from the prophetic back into the profane. Effectively Church of Ignorance is about playing a utopian game with images, inflections and languages.

The group are free to roam the interior of the church, working with custom made sound-files, interpreting the unfamiliar words and sounds in lip- and body-sync, in gestures and facial expressions. What happens there, then, is a reversed productive process: The playback voices, all the submerged dialects and minority jargons seem to become familiar in the way they are presented and transcribed into dance, because they make you hear, see and understand in a new way. And at the same time, it appears that the actors threaten to become increasingly estranged from themselves from handling the jingling din of words. The collage of sounds and noises coagulate, turn into a basis for imaginary pre- and proto-languages, which appear to be under attack from invisible foes at the frontlines of mantra-research, linguistics and horror movie theory.

Church of Ignorance places spirituality, man and machine in bold conspiracies; the pathos of transcendence transcends into that of trance, into the rite of prayer, immersion, into delusion. The sudden silence that reliably follows the cascades of noise and storms of voices, is a consequence of a pleasurable transgression of the boundaries that form thinking, fantasy and dance. The old conventions no longer apply. They have been suspended in the church of ignorance.

Translation from German: Oliver Stummer