Here Comes The Sony (Rehearsal)

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video & sound
duration: 5 min

dance by Lizzi Kew Ross & Co, feat. Samir Kennedy, Morrighan MacGillivray, Henry Montes, Sonia Rafferty, Alice Sara

Stations 2020, Arts Chaplaincy Projects, 2020
The Spiritual Exercises, Arts Chaplaincy Projects, 2020

from the series Stations of the Cross

© acknowledgements:

Here Comes The Sun (The Beatles)
Sony logo

Commentary by Lucy Newman Cleeve for Stations of the Cross 2020

The Fifteenth Station:  Jesus rises from death

In this new fifteenth station, footage of dancers from Lizzi Kew Ross & Co. in an early rehearsal for Stations of the Resurrection is gradually overlaid with twelve rotating discs, each one produced by filming through the back of a translucent Sony lens cap, so that the logo remains visible in reverse. With the introduction of each new disc, another layer of looped sound is added. The track is fleetingly recognisable as the guitar riff from the opening bars to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ by the Beatles, although the original has been progressively extended so no two loops are the same duration. The discs rotate at different speeds, in sync to the soundtrack, changing hue as they cycle through the colour spectrum. As the music builds, the particular melody of ‘Here Comes the Sun’ is obscured, although never quite lost, as the sounds merge to create the effect of a peal of Easter bells. The twelve discs correspond to Jesus’ resurrection appearances in the New Testament and the sampled music from ‘Here Comes the Sun’ is a deliberate pun referencing the coming of The Son, which is further reinforced by the retention of the reversed Sony logo. 

The first fourteen Stations contemplate the path that Jesus walked to Calvary on the day of his crucifixion. The fifteenth station has moved forwards in time three days to Jesus’ resurrection. A version of this work was first installed under the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral during Eastertide 2017, when it was realised as a twelve-monitor video and sound installation titled Here Comes the Sony: Stations of the Resurrection, and accompanied by a performance of Being Here by Lizzi Kew Ross & Co. The movement material focused on the repeated withdrawal and reconnection of the dancers to create a physical metaphor of presence and absence, connection and loss. In this rehearsal except, each dancer is carried or supported by the others in turn. They fold and unfold around each other. It is not clear who is acting on whom. They come together to form tableaux which are visually reminiscent of Käthe Kollwitz’ drawings and sculptures. Human bodies melt together, limbs draped over limbs, in the act of protecting, comforting and carrying each other. It is not clear where one body starts and another ends or whether it is one body or many that is being implied.

Watching this movement material again, in a season when touch is prohibited, delivers a poignant reminder of what has been lost: a time when the freedom to touch another person was taken for granted. On one level, the circles appearing over the dancers brings to mind the daily published infographics showing the spread of Coronavirus and its case fatality rates, a constant reminder of the danger associated with physical contact. The work also calls to mind one of the earliest resurrection appearances recorded in John’s Gospel: when Mary Magdalene first recognises Jesus, she reaches out to towards him, to which he replies, “touch me not” (Noli me Tangere). Jesus explains his refusal to be touched saying, “I have not yet ascended to the Father.” One possible interpretation is that Jesus is pointing Mary’s attention away from the physical act of resurrection and towards its spiritual meaning. 

Within this framework, the rotating discs become symbolic of the wafer that the Priest distributes during the Eucharist and over which he prays the words, “this is my body, broken for you.” Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper, the night before his death when he met with his disciples to celebrate the Passover Seder. At this meal, they would have recited the ten plagues visited on Pharaoh and his people, to force them to release the Israelites from slavery. Jesus is revealing to the disciples that the tenth plague, which resulted in the death of the first-born child, is about to be enacted on him. The incarnate God is not immune to the ravages of a plague or virus, but through his death, all people are saved from the slavery of sin. 

The rotating discs, shot through a lens-cap, can also be interpreted as an eschatological metaphor that corresponds to Paul’s description of a resurrection life that is, at the same time, both realised and not yet realised; present now and yet still in the future: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” This partial ‘blindness’ co-exists with the acclamation of faith, “Here Comes the Son”. The New Testament looks towards a historical future, towards the redemption of the whole world, but from the angle of the fallen world and its history, that can only be expressed apocalyptically. 

The theme of looking through a glass is reinforced towards the end of the fifteenth station, when the dancers move out of view and the camera focusses on a seam between two opaque glass windows. Until now, the dancers have been dancing in front (or on top) of this seam, which corresponds visually with the windscreen wipers in Station 1 that cut through Maria’s body. The abstracted architecture also resembles Station 2, where the astragals in the airport window form a cross. There is a sense of completion in the journey, achieved through the crucifixion. 

The work invites discourse about the Christian journey of faith in which the church approaches Good Friday with the prior knowledge of the Resurrection: it lives with the knowledge that the victory has been won, and yet acknowledges that human beings still encounter the pain of death, darkness and separation in this life. In the meantime, the church is nourished by the sacraments and in particular the Eucharist — and reminded of its justification and salvation through observance of Lent and the celebration of Easter — through re-living the Via Crucis and the Via Lucis.