By John Sanborn.
The story of Venus and Mars has fascinated poets and philosophers for millennia, as the couple is the mythic example of balance between opposing energies – beauty and brutality, male and female, Chaos and Eros; grace and strength.
Their story is timeless. Venus is the goddess of love and beauty. With exquisite features and magical smile Venus attracted many suitors – gods and mortals alike. But Venus was married to the graceless and ignorant Vulcan, the god of fire. One day, true love appears in the form of Mars, the god of war – but known for defending the peace. Their attraction was instantaneous and comprehensive. Their adulterous affair gives evidence to the ultimate power of desire and the triumph of love – and their story is the stuff of myth.
They find peace and comfort in their deepening relationship, as they discover new ways in which they compliment each other; trading values and viewpoints until they are united in purpose and dream.
Their love reigns, until they are discovered by a jealous Vulcan and exposed to the ridicule and denunciation of the other gods on Mt. Olympus. They are banished and disgraced. But all is not lost – championed by Cupid they are reunited – sustained by a connection that transcends convention. The child of their love is the beautiful Harmonia – who unites the forces of nature.
In myth, only Venus dominates Mars, who yields his strength to their bond. In the presence of Venus, Mars is often seen disarmed and relaxed, but the illicit nature of their affair also suggests that emotional peace is impermanent.
V+M is a mythic retelling of their story that goes beyond the heteronormative code by featuring male-male and female-female versions of Venus and Mars, in order to get to the essences that describe the balance of power in relationships, the nature of myth making and the origins of desire. Beyond gender, what brings us together – and what forces us apart?
The objective is to define and describe what are the attributes that make “Venus” and “Mars” such powerful characters. The work explores their nature, and asks us why these figures have endured and have such influence on our individual sense of self-image.
V+M operates on an intimate, emotional level, but it also addresses the scale of archetypes to influence current culture, for better and worse. We find V+M in politics, fashion, and war. We are fascinated by the duality they represent and we find ways to both adhere to and defy convention in order to model their love in our own lives.
V+M invites the viewer to get lost in the natural laws that govern this story, filled with sensual stimulation – but at the same time, pay attention to the gestures, sounds and feelings of this reimagined couple and their story. The dance movement is intense and carnal and the text is a blend of street slang and poetry. The music is founded on the arcane textures of the cello, but mixes in urban electronics, and contemporary sound design to orchestrate in operatic terms the vibrant attributes of Venus and Mars.
The work proceeds around the 3 groups of 3 screens, mixing and collaging the story of Venus and Mars in a non-linear but cogent order. The work is composed of 12 scenes, which traces their origins, profiles each character, expounds on their denunciation, and listens to the consequences that stemmed from their powerful but illicit romance.
There is a contemporary but eternal lesson here, not stated explicitly but embedded into the style of storytelling and the abstraction of the installed work. The work is intended to be felt by the body as well as absorbed by the mind, in ways V+M uses the attributes of the characters to tell their story. The work combines elements of grace, power, rules, rigor, magic and the ability of video to visualize alternate philosophies at work.
V+M always returns to the themes of power, myth and desire.
© John Sanborn, 2015 – Turbulences Vidéo #87