Aimar Pérez Galí is a Catalan choreographer, researcher, writer and teacher. He defines himself as a dancer first, since this is the practice that drives him as an artist. His work explores how embodied discourses might create freer, healthier, newer communities. As part of Festival SÂLMON< 2018, he showed his latest work épica, the last in a trilogy of pieces concerned with this idea. épica is an on-stage rave in which the audience participates. It places the bodies of the audience as the site of a revolution, a revolution conjured through sensory experience.
Aimar's practice is a profoundly thoughtful one. Through meeting with him and speaking to him at SÂLMON<, we got to know the depth with which he thinks and creates. His process is multivalent, embracing different forms and looking for creative outlets other than the stage.
CONTACT IMPROVISATION + THE AIDS EPIDEMIC
For the second show in his recent trilogy, The Touching Community, Aimar focused on the simultaneous emergence of Contact Improvisation and the rapid expansion of AIDS within the dance community at the end of the 20th century: the AIDS paradigm created a discourse against contact and touching, while at the same time Contact Improvisation proposed the dancer not as an individual but as a community. The Touching Community resulted in a new approach to Contact, which Aimar calls the Touching Improvisation. Currently, Touching is being piloted at hospitals in Barcelona to train carers and nurses in a more sensitive/caring way to handle cancer patients undergoing treatment.
WRITING TO PEDRO LEMEBEL
As part of the research for The Touching Community, Aimar wrote letters to numerous dancers deceased from AIDS. It was an extended writing project, only a fraction of which was actually used as material in the show itself. Mostly, the letters formed a nourishing ground from which the show grew. Below is an excerpt from the letter he wrote to Pedro Lemebel (1952-2015), a Chilean writer, artist and activist, but above all, a punk and a restless rebel. He dedicated his life to upsetting the establishment in every possible way. A pioneering Queer figure, Lemebel spoke loud and clear representing those communities that were ignored and punished during Pinochet’s Chile: queer people, people with AIDS, sex workers.
He was a prominent figure of the underground scene, fighting against Pinochet’s military dictatorship, but also against the Marxist resistance that condemned homosexuality as a bourgeois vice; against the neoliberal consensus behind Chile’s ‘economic miracle’, but also against the LGBT activists who Lemebel believed were making commodities of queer suffering and queer lives.
One of Lemebel's most fruitful projects of resistance was the performance duo he formed with poet and visual artist Francisco Casa Silva, called Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis (The Mares of the Apocalypse). In one of their most memorable performances, La Conquista de América, the two artists, barefoot and stripped to the waist, with Walkmen taped to their chests, danced a Cueca (Chile’s national dance) on top of a white map of Latin America. Pieces of glass from broken Coca-Cola bottles were scattered on the floor, and as they danced the map became stained with blood.
//// AND SUDDENLY THEY TALKED ABOUT YOU... I HAD BEEN THINKING FOR A WHILE, BUT WHEN I HEARD YOUR NAME, A CHILL RAN THROUGH ME. THEY MENTIONED YOUR BOOKS THAT I HAVE READ AND YOUR THEORY OF THE SECOND COLONISATION, THAT WHICH COMES FROM THE NORTH, THE GAY COLONISATION AND ALL ITS YANKEE CULTURE, DEVASTATING THE LOCAL CULTURE OF THE LOCALS. IN FACT, I LOVE HOW YOU DEFEND YOUR MAPUCHE CULTURE AGAINST GLOBALISATION IN YOUR BOOKS. I THINK YOU NEVER WOULD HAVE WORN A ZARA OR H&M SHIRT ////