photo: Jelena Janković
photo: Jelena Janković

Do we truly know who we are until we try who else we can be? Can we be someone else? And even if we could, would it only take us deeper into our own selves? Are we at the edge of the future or will it remain evasive forever? Or is it already behind us?

The second (and final) premiere at this year’s Bitef-Prologue, Be Arielle F, tackles various issues which eerily channel Franz Kafka’s Gregor Samsa in more than one way.

Namely, Simon Senn, the author of the project, bought a scanned 3D image of a woman’s body, setting an unexpected metamorphosis in motion; a metamorphosis which affected himself, the woman whose body had been scanned, a metamorphosis which, eventually, led to this theatre performance.

Yet another Kafka’s character, Josef K., echoes through Senn’s attempts to clarify all the legal issues regarding the use of the scan. A lawyer provides vague answers not because that is what lawyers do, but because the clear ones are not available. Although virtual reality has been with us for quite some time, it is still not truly legally recognized and defined. What does sexually explicit mean? It depends. On what? On whom you ask. So, someone can take you to court? Yes. And what would the judge say? Well, the judge would state that he is not an expert. Then he would call an expert witness? Well, who is truly an expert for those issues?

A barrage of questions is followed by clumsy and insecure answers which resemble the motions of the scanned image while Senn is putting the sensors onto his body. One hand goes through a thigh, toes pierce the chest, and it truly resembles a metamorphosis of an insect coming out of a cocoon. Except that it is neither and insect nor a fictional character, but a body of a real person providing a shelter for another person’s development. Uncanny, just like the performance we saw the day before stated.

Through a combination of a lecture-performance, filmed segments, presentation of the process on stage, live chat with Arielle, recorded conversations, Senn is creating a performance which leaves you baffled and unsure what to think about the present and about the future. Are we to be excited, worried, or scared? It remains to be seen.


Vesna Radovanović