The Practice of Love – Jenny Hval (NO)

The Practice of Love
Jenny Hval (NO)
13. December @ 20.00

Jenny Hval is best known as a recording artist and musician, but her background and interests are multidisciplinary, and in her music output there is an invisible web of references to experimental fiction, theatre and film as well as music and sound art of many forms. In 2015, she staged an experimental concert piece at Black Box teater in Oslo, based on the album Apocalypse, girl, released the very same day as the performance. This piece was Hval’s first project with theatrical elements: performance, choreography and video as well as musical performance. After the premiere of this piece, Hval and her ensemble toured this type of experimental concert form over the next three years, bringing performative and visual elements together on stage in both rock clubs, festival stages, galleries and theatres, always adapting to the spaces, but sticking to an idea of the concert as an essay or a critical space, one that can engage in questions about what an artist is, or what a concert is.

The Practice of Love

With her new project, The Practice of Love (TPOL), Hval will take one step further into a multidisciplinary, immersive performance between music, literature and theatre. It will be based on material from Hval’s forthcoming album, which will be released on September 13, 2019, but it will not be a concert based on this album. Rather, it will explore both sonic, visual and choreographical ideas in order to stage the writing process as a performative practice.

The piece begins by examining the material on the new album. A lonely protagonist sits in a seemingly empty room. She is constantly thinking, writing or playing, and then she starts speaking and singing about what appears to be herself, but a self that constantly transforms into other shapes: an adult version of Alice in Wonderland, or artists such as Kathy Acker, Agnes Varda, Joni Mitchell, and Georgia O’Keeffe, or various animals, or even the clappers of a church bell.

With this wordplay, the protagonist tries to open a portal or enter a trance-like state, using her limited means of a voice: a computer and a synth. What she is also doing, is creating a soundscape that references trance, as in trance music and dance music from the early 90s. Into this soundscape, a set of visually projected words start appearing, slowly transforming the space into a living canvas for language and voices.

As the protagonist gets immersed into the music, the piece also becomes immersive for the spectator. Projected written text redefine the space and becomes more and more creative and visual, creating a choreography of meaning and nonsense, lights, colours and patterns. More people appear on stage, dismantling the role of the protagonist into a series of shifting central figures in an attempt to bring sound, body and text closer together.

In this way, TPOL creates an experience of transfiguration, transforming roles, bodies and sounds into text, and transforming different types of text into magic. By allowing the theatre to become writing, (which could be seen as the most “distanced” element on stage – normally, writing would be mostly used in the preproduction of a performance, as a script, a prescription, separated from the ritual itself), the performance can fail, but still try, to explore the potential for magic.

The practice of love is the practice of language. The practice of language is the practice of magic. The practice of magic is the practice of love.