Cassils – The Powers That Be (210 Kilometers)



Cassils, who won the first ever ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art in 2014, returns to Kuopio.

Kuopio, Finland is located 210 kilometers from the Russian border. Cassils’ new site specific performance addresses the proximity of the ANTI Festival to a country where queer and trans lives are acutely vulnerable and under siege, lacking any protection under civil law.

The Powers That Be (210 Kilometers) was staged in a parking structure, with headlights and car radios providing lighting and sound for an intensely choreographed fight between Cassils and an invisible opponent. This performance smashes the weight of accountability down on everyone present by calling into question the roles of witness, victim and agressor, continuing Cassils’ exploration of the radical unrepresentability of certain forms of trauma and violence.

How can we enact empathy across political divides and international borders to genuinely connect with the struggles of others whose lives we can “only imagine”? The Powers That Be (210 Kilometers) articulates a space for this inquiry, offering a shared experience of witnessing cycles of violence, struggle, and survival. Cassils’ performance offers up a scene of violence that speaks to multiple cultural contexts, while marking the particularity of this space through a soundscape that samples local news clips, music and talk radio from both sides of the Finnish/Russian border.

Concept & Performance: Cassils
Sound Design: Kadet Kuhne
Fight Choreography: Mark Steger

Heather Cassils (CA/US)

Heather Cassils is an artist who uses the physical body as sculptural mass with which to rupture societal norms. Implementing rigorous physical training practices and queering their knowledge of kinesiology and sports science, they formally manipulate the body into shapes that defy expectations. Bashing through the binaries and the notion that in order to be officially transgendered you have to have surgery or take hormones, Cassils performs trans not as something about a crossing from one sex to another, but rather as a continual becoming, a process oriented way of being that works in a space of indeterminacy, spasm and slipperiness.

Forging a series powerfully trained bodies for different performative and formal purposes, it is with sweat, blood and sinew that they construct a visual critique and discourse around physical and gender ideologies and histories. Drawing on conceptualism, feminism, body art, gay male aesthetics, and Hollywood cinema, Cassils creates a visual language that is at once emotionally striking and conceptually incisive.

Drawing on conceptualism, feminism, body art, gay male aesthetics, and Hollywood cinema, Cassils creates a visual language that is at once emotionally striking and conceptually incisive.

Cassils’ first European solo exhibition, Incendiary took place in MU, Eindhoven, the Netherlands in May 22 – July 19 2015.

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