LA DANSE MACABRE
La Danse Macabre is a collaborative work between artist Natasha and choreographer Gusbang. The term La Danse Macabre is taken from the same title of 1930’s Disney Silly Symphony collection, a parade of skeleton dancing over silent black and white cartoon. La Danse Macabre is considered as an allegory of memento mori in the middle age; in which the remembrance of death is appearance and inevitable. In making this work, an extensive method of research is conducted. From interviewing forensic experts to surveying funeral homes. The result of this research is rendered into a quasi-fiction written in the form of a script. The script consists of movements, gestures, and poem that are realised through the performance by Natasha and Gusbang.
The starting point of this collaborative work is Gusbang and Natasha’s shared affinity towards the themes of fear and death. Both of them have explored these themes separately in their previous works. Their previous research into fear and death brought them to subjects of the transcendental or spiritual, and relating to social and cultural myths and the horror genre. In La Danse Macabre, Gusbang and Natasha chose to deepen their research by surveying funeral homes in Yogyakarta, interviewing foresic experts and mortuary personnel who prepare the body for funeral rites. They inquire into their anecdotes; modes of handling and dealing with bodies; family and social rituals surrounding funerals; Their research resulted in findings of how the living often instill/imbue their power on the dead behind the solemnity of burial rituals. In addition to the ritual of purifying, decorating, and anointing the dead body the deceased are provided with the best final resting place financially possible. On a physical level, the living insist on repositioning the dead body with gestures and postures that identifies with the living, as though the deceased are in the perfect living in a physical condition. Hence, social, cultural, religious and gender normatives dictate the physical conditions of the dead. This is all done in the hope that the dead will not leave any unnatural and horrific impression on the living. Natasha and Gusbang read these as the abnormalities enacted on the dead to normalise death and neutralise the fear of death for the living.