1) Socorro! Gloria!
2) 10 Piezas Distinguidas:
3) Los trancos del avestruz
MUSIC: Fernando Lopez-Hermoso, Possatti, etc.
Socorro! Gloria!, 1991, is a choreographed dance solo disguised as a humorous cabaret entertainment. The performance depends on stage props and costume, but it also relies on precise movement and exact timing. Its feminist humour turns on a parody of two female stereotypes – the flustered woman unequal to the task of making a public address, and the professional stripper.
In Socorro! Gloria! La Ribot appears on stage with her usually slim frame curiously enlarged. She sits down and adjusts a microphone stand as if about to speak or sing, but seems unable to settle. Struggling to retain her composure, she begins peeling off layer after layer of clothing, some of it very bizarre indeed: a khaki green animal-print all-in-one bodysuit, for example. After a while the performance style shifts and La Ribot’s strip ends by mimicking the moves of the practiced striptease artist, but with further twists, since she is wearing not one but four pairs of stockings and at least half-a-dozen pairs of knickers. Beethoven’s piano sonata no. 22 accompanies the peculiar striptease, its highbrow romanticism simultaneously undercut by and enhancing the comedy of La Ribot’s performance.
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED: La Ribot
PERFORMER: La Ribot
MUSIC: Sonate for piano n22 Beethoven
LIGHTING DESIGN: Freddy Guerlache
COSTUMES: La Ribot
La Ribot’s Distinguished Pieces came into being gradually, gaining momentum as they went. The first five pieces were presented at the Salamanca University in 1993. The following year, at Teatro Pradillo, Madrid, La Ribot devised five more. Later that year, she created three more and premiered all thirteen at the Teatro Alfil in Madrid, adding the 1991 “striptease” Socorro! Gloria! as an introduction.
13 Piezas distinguidas was key in securing La Ribot’s international reputation and it sets up the parameters for all the solo works in her Distinguished Project (1993-present). They begin with the performer unclothed and present her both as a creative agent and an artwork for viewers’ contemplation and interpretation. All are short, and most use everyday objects or garments (a workers’ warehouse coat, a bed-sheet, a tape-measure, a sheet of brown card, and so on) as starting points for diverse actions, gestures and poses.
There is an unorthodox feminist dimension to La Ribot’s explorations. In Capricho mio (no. 8 in the series) she dons a bath towel and measures herself with a tape measure. Like Martha Rosler’s 1977 work Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained, the piece recalls the onus placed on women to monitor their bodies’ conformity to prescribed physical norms; but while Rosler’s dutiful female “citizen” remains a passive object of scrutiny, La Ribot refuses to knuckle under, and conducts her anarchic survey in a thoroughly unscientific and arbitrary fashion. Having dangled the tape from the back of her head towards the floor, she proudly declares “Two metres!” Later, after a couple of tries with the tape, she imperiously decrees the length of her nose to be “One”. The duty of measurement becomes a humorous subversion – an eccentric source of narcissistic satisfaction and an assertion of one’s own vision over the world of banal facts.
The Distinguished Pieces’ polemics intertwine with a mobile, unpredictable poetics that collides seemingly incompatible qualities together. In La vaca sueca (piece no. 9), for example, La Ribot puts on an elegant lime-green evening gown and dances to a lugubrious Hungarian folk tune: some kind of lament, maybe. The piece climaxes with La Ribot collapsed on stage, her face hidden in the depths of a black bowler hat. The effect is glamorous and tragic, bizarre and more than a little absurd: unfathomable, and hard to forget.
Adapting systems of fine art patronage to her own ends, La Ribot has sold some of the Distinguished Pieces to various “Distinguished Proprietors”, and Para ti (piece no. 13) plays a game with this very fact. Accompanied by a Django Reinhardt tune, La Ribot launches into a wild dance, full of peculiar gestures. As she goes she dedicates it to members of the audience, only to retract the dedication a moment later. “This is for you. No, not for you. For the woman in red. For this side. For that couple… For my mother! For you, for you, for you…” Hanging in the air is the comical possibility that audience members might be a little relieved not to become dedicatees of this strange and rather awkward offering. Thus, the first series of Distinguished Pieces ends with a work that (to put it bluntly) totally screws up conventional final-curtain niceties: “Thank you, you’ve been a wonderful audience…” Like the proverbial free lunch, it suggests, gifts always come at a price, and it might be wise to beware performance artists bearing them.
PREMIERE: October 31st 1994 - Teatro Alfil de Madrid, Spain
First series of ’distinguished pieces’
DURATION: 60min Written and Directed: La Ribot
PERFORMER: La Ribot
DIRECTION ASSISTANT: Gonzalo Ribot
LIGHTING DESIGN: Cora
MUSIC: Fernando López-Hermoso, Ivano Fossati, Getz/Gilberto, Django Reinhardt, Popular Hungarian music
ADMINISTRATION: Carmen Alcalde
COMMUNICATION AND PRESS: Christina Barchi
Produced by La Ribot
Supported by Actividades Culturales Universidad de Salamanca, Ce y AC Comunidad de Madrid, INAEM, Ministerio de Cultura, Spain, and the distinguished proprietors.
The 1993 duet Los trancos del avestruz, choreographed by La Ribot and performed by her with the actor Juan Loriente, lasts forty minutes and frequently has its audience laughing out loud.
The action starts with the pair sitting opposite one another on folding wooden chairs, laughing silently and hilariously. It then develops into a comical, puzzling and at times alarming game in which each performer, turn by turn, seems to command or threaten the other – sometimes through gestures but mostly via loud, incomprehensible and very funny vocalisations. Each yodel, bellow or whimper has an immediate and dramatic effect, causing the other performer to collapse on the floor, leap onto their chair, brandish it as if in self-defence or even dash into the theatre wings for safety.
Slapstick Los trancos del avestruz certainly is, but (very much like la Ribot’s 1995 collaboration with Loriente, Oh! Sole!) its physical comedy is cleverly complicated by the two protagonists’ absurd and enigmatic relationship. Their activities defy rationalization; nevertheless, they take them awfully seriously, and this compels a mirroring seriousness in Los trancos del avestruz’s spectators – a sense that we are laughing not merely at cartoon pratfalls but at a subtly suggested range of human foibles and failings.
PREMIERE: 1993 - Cultural Activities University of Salamanca, Spain
DURATION: 25min Written and Directed: La Ribot
PERFORMERS: Juan Loriente, La Ribot
LIGHTING DESIGN: Cora
COSTUMES: La Ribot
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