Cecilia Bengolea

La danza de la esponja. Philosophy of Joy. Favorite position, 2018
FAENA FORUM

Guest Choreographer: Nancy St. Leger
Performers: Amanda Backer, Jac’lene Conklin, Iccy, Manoucheka Luma, Rhoda Moise, Dayanis Mondera, Sherrieka Othello, and Evelyn Robaina. With the participation of African Watoto Dance Theatre and BamiDele Dance of African Arts
Animation Designer: Robert Montenegro
Visuals: Rick Solari


Cecilia Bengolea’s practice is focussed on anthropological and urban dance forms and their relation to nature, the elements and figuration. She perceives dance and performance as animated sculpture and welcomes the fact that these forms allow her to become both object and subject at the same time.

She studied Philosophy and Art History at Buenos Aires University and followed the choreographic master Ex.e.r.c.e. by Mathilde Monnier in Montpellier. Bengolea’s video installations and performances have been exhibited at the Gwangju Biennial (2014), Biennale de Lyon (2015), The Tanks and Tade Modern (2015), Faena Arts Center, Buenos Aires (2015 and 2017) Fig-2 25/50 at ICA, London (2015), Dia Art Foundation (May 2017), Tokyo Spiral Hall, Biennale de Sao Paulo (2016), The Infinite Mix, Hayward Gallery London (2016), Elevation 1049, Gstaad (2017), Palais de Tokyo (2015 and 2018), Art Night, ICA London (2015), Fiorucci Art Trust, Stromboli, Dhaka Art Summit (2018), TBA21, Venice (2018), Art Basel Miami Beach (2018), E.A.T (2019), Centre Pompidou (2010 and 2016). Bengolea has collaborated with François Chaignaud since 2005.

Their collaborative pieces Pâquerette (2005-2008) and Sylphides (2009) won the Award de la Critique de Paris and the Young Artist Prize at the Gwangju Biennial in 2014. They have co-created pieces for their company as well as for the Ballet de Lyon (2013), the Ballet de Lorraine (2014) and Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal (2015).



Cecilia Bengolea’s site-specific installation and performance is created for the Faena Forum. In collaboration with guest choreographer Nancy St. Leger, a traditional Afro-Haitian dancer and teacher, and dancers from the local community including: Amanda Backer, Jac’lene Conklin, Iccy, Manoucheka Luma, Rhoda Moise, Dayanis Mondeja, Sherrieka Othello, and Evelyn Robaina, the work was created over the course of many weeks in residence in Miami Beach.

Bengolea’s practice of spiritual street, alongside the preservation and reinterpretation of traditional and folkloric dance genres and contemporary and popular gestures.

Bengolea’s choreography hinges on the intersection of the sacred and profane, along with the interpolation of bodies, light, video and animation, towards a new kind of corporeal slang for the creation of new dialogue. Converting the Forum into contemporary temple, the choreography is an embodied language that becomes the memory, the archive, and a proposal for the future—a dance of hybrid bodies transitioning between the spiritual and the physical.


5.jpg

My practice of street Dancehall in Jamaica has led me to believe in it as a spiritual culture. Although Dancehall is profane— explicit sex and violence being integral to the song lyrics— as members of a community we acknowledge together a sense of unity and spiritual elevation by sharing a vibrating space and unison movements. For this commission we look at the kinesis of the octopus and the liquid oceanic intelligence- as the bridge between cultures of the African diaspora from Jamaica to Cuba, from Haiti to Miami, and the contemporary ideas of the sacred and profane.

Cecilia Bengolea



‘Religious man experiences two types of time – profane and sacred. The one is an evanescent duration, the other a “succession of eternities,” periodically recoverable during the festivals that make up the sacred calendar.’
Mircea Eliade: The Sacred and the Profane: The nature of religion. p.104

My practice of street dancehall in Jamaica has led me to believe in it as a spiritual culture. Although Dancehall is profane— explicit sex and violence being integral to the song lyrics— as members of a community we acknowledge together a sense of unity and spiritual elevation by sharing a vibrating space and unison movements. 

Dancehall creates texts and movements drawn from everyday life, from the observation of nature, animal behavior, sex relations and gang semiotics. Without beginning or end its choreography and steps form a succession of eternities granting it place within the calendar of spiritual time. On  recent trips to Cuba when working with a modern dance group, and Miami working with Nancy St. Leger’s Afro-Haitian dance company, I searched for coincident movements in the Haitian and Cuban Yoruba religious dances and profane street dancehall.

These cultures worship natural elements through repetition and figuration. Deities, orishas (in Cuba), loas (in Haiti) have romances between them. Their dances are both sensual and spiritual. Dancehall is not a religion, but the sound systems and its vibrational resonance heal our fragmented experience of time to create both unity and space.

On both profane and religious dance practices I found simultaneous multiple rhythms and various directions in different parts of the body. Movement of this kind liquefies the body into sweat and newly undulating forms. This specific multi directionality of body parts made me think and look at the invertebrate octopus kinetic. Its decentralized brain an independence from a central nervous system is comparable to the thoughtful bodies of Dancehall and Yoruba. The other mind of the octopus suggests a body without boundaries - fully liquid being, born out of a state of constant rehearsal. The spirit and rhythms that infuse this body move in several directions at once.

Sweat and ocean and tropical rain further dissolve the boundaries between inside and outside, reminding us perhaps that inner body fluid is an electrical conductor that functions for the body in similar ways to the synapses of the brain – creating new pathways and communication highways redefining sentience. Through ritual and repetition, arms, legs and torso seem to develop an independent memory. Relieved of the cumbersome call and response mechanism that separates action from thought, the body begins to describe a life of its own The beginning and ends of the spiritual and the profane dance are here forgone in favor of an actualization of a polymorphous erotic identity – a kind of spiritualized pornography.

For this commission we look at the kinesis of the octopus and the liquid oceanic intelligence- as the bridge between cultures of the African diaspora from Jamaica to Cuba, from Haiti to Miami, and the contemporary ideas of the sacred and profane. The body will be presented both in holographic sculptural form and as an active choreographic being – the one evanescent, the other a succession of eternities.