Reservation, confirmation, foyer, entrance, performance and after-show talk. A few days after the end of containment, May 17th precisely, online, I had my first post-pandemic LIVE performance. Like many festivals, auawirleben in Bern decided to go online this year and the word « live » really caught my attention. In addition, I like the theme. It must have to do with all those fascinating Chinese tales particularly The Painted Skin. Dreaming of « living » in another body seems to be universal and this is the starting point of Be Arielle F.
The performance is structured like a documentary: Simon bought Arielle’s 3D scanned body for 12 dollars. With the captors, he can inhabit Arielle’s skin virtually. The story would have been ordinary if he were satisfied with that. Instead, he started looking for « this girl » (he did not know her name at that time). A simple hashtag of the 3D scanning studio helped him find Arielle on social media. He contacted her; since then she has become part of the performance, giving her voice on the whole story.
This is the first time I discovered Simon’s work and his intuitional approach sincerely enchanted me. Uncertainty was present thru the whole creative process and the output was successful. Technologies move forward catching up human’s imagination. On one hand, we have more questions than ever; on the other hand, should we stop imagining if tales cannot stay in their castles?
During the Q&A, I asked Arielle if she wanted to try to « live » in Simon’s body. She would love to and Simon was open to scan his body one day. What assures us is that behind this project it is the real human contact that establishes the trust. And it will be human’s job finding answers to all those questions related to new technologies. The project also has a human « side-effect »: Simon could chat with his daughters about makeup. Wonderful, isn’t it?
Be Arielle F. proves that online live performance is a fascinating possibility as long as the performance itself is suited. During the performance, one spectator could even « experience » Arielle on Zoom. Online and on stage are just two platforms in parallel and could be flawlessly complementary if well managed. Covid-19 opens another door for performing art and Simon Fenn made a remarkable trial. Last but not the least, thanks for aua team having recreated the theater ritual, indispensable to the integral experience of this online live performance.