After the successful performances at HAU Hebbel am Ufer last October, She She Pop are now again showing their picture album inspired by Wedekind’s “Spring Awakening” and E.L. James’ erotic novel “50 Shades of Grey” with guests from the Berlin dance, performance and theatre scene. Based on Wedekind’s utopian models of education, the stage here serves as an educational institution and She She Pop and their guests form a faculty within it.
On two large panels onto which cross-fade images are projected, the different actors – old and young, children, women and men – are staged in a series of encounters. Through monstrous or simple presentations, and constantly shifting poses, different generations and genders, real bodies and fantastic figments expose. The experienced elderly stand next to innocent youth, or vice versa: no position is secure and nobody has reliable knowledge.
The experience of sex is constantly changing – it is historical, political, biographical, and conditioned by specific contexts. Even the most private declarations about desire, reproduction, gender specificity, and so on, are ideologies; they are smoke and mirrors, banal, dull or fictitious. Imparting knowledge is a form of penetration, just one kind of lewd sex game among many. Yet despite all these doubt and unease, sex education is still necessary. What is sex? What makes a woman a woman? What makes a man a man? What does a child know? The pan-generational teachers in “50 Grades of Shame” rise to this challenge. The performers use their bodies and their accumulated physical shame as visual material.
“50 Grades of Shame” is concerned with creating, viewing, modifying and reinterpreting imagery: images in the form of ideals and norms, images of collective and individual desire, images as concrete examples, and as pornography, caricature and subversive collage. Together with their guests, She She Pop’s performers are working on a new theatrical format. The aim is to abandon the individual limits of the body, age, gender, shame and hard-won sexual identity in order to merge into new, collective image of bodies, live on camera. Each and every one of us is naive despite all our experience, and has to teach others. Each and every one of us can imitate, parody and penetrate the other. The result is an ars erotica for the stage – a fusion of modern sex-education picture book and late medieval dance of death.