La Ribot, Striptease / 13 Distinguished Pieces & More Distinguished Pieces

Review in Issue 10-1 | Spring 1998

Striptease is both a prelude to and quite distinct from 13 Distinguished Pieces. It sets the theme of the ‘gaze’ which the later piece explores, mocking the spectator as the performer sheds many layers of clothing and reaches nudity by blackout. La Ribot’s work is located in the field of body-as-site-of-performance but, unlike other contemporary performance artists, there is no blood, self-mutilation or shock in any obvious sense. As well as being the site for performance, the body is also its subject and object.

La Ribot present the body as the subject/object of the gaze and so confront their audience with the act of looking. The naked and semi-naked body becomes a series of gender, social and political connotations ultimately located in the subjective responses of each member of the audience.

This subjectiveness is explored in the first set of 13 Distinguished Pieces which has a focus and through-line not apparent in the second set which seems superficial and whimsical in comparison. Some images seem to be playing with sexuality but do not confront it. Perhaps it is simply that nakedness in itself is not sufficient. The ‘pieces’ are unerotic in the use of the body and use a mixture of styles and degrees of theatricality which veer from the almost throwaway through a teasing quality to some images that heighten the drama of the body.

Both shows are undoubtedly thought-provoking, but neither were really overwhelming. Confrontation with the audience seemed to be averted and not fully followed through. Nevertheless this was one of the two finest shows at this year’s Festival. Along with Derevo’s Red Zone, it exposed the hollowness of most of the other mime and physical theatre companies’ work.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jan 1998

This article in the magazine

Issue 10-1
p. 24