Agata Masziewicz performs Taki Pejzaz at the Loft during the Off Europa Festival, photo: Grit Friedrich
Agata Masziewicz performs Taki Pejzaz at the Loft during the Off Europa Festival, photo: Grit Friedrich

Off Europa: human landscapes

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TAKI PEJZAŻ, the final performance of the Off Europa dance and performance festival, took me from weary to energized in 60 minutes. In the new normal, I had actually been mourning my former self. I was glad to find her again…if only for a moment.

What makes us ourselves? In recent months we have all learned how our surroundings affect us, especially when stuck in one place. TAKI PEJZAŻ is a site-specific work by Agata Maszkiewicz, Vincent Tirμmarche and Christophe Demarthe incorporating movement, sound, projection and light. It sees each location as a place of conquest in which to reshape itself.

Taki Pejzaż translates to “such a landscape”

As we enter, an elegant model welcomes us. Though I don’t understand the words, it feels like they are announcing us as we enter the space. There are no seats. The center of the room is full of theatre lights on stands that point outward. A techie is in on a platform as per usual. Some audience members sit on little stages that are where seats would normally be. Others line the walls. I sit on the ground.

The light technician enters the area behind the lights and after an adjustment, we realize the model is the performer. Long and lanky, she seems to have come straight from the catwalk in her silver pants and matching button up shirt, accessorized with chunky platform white sandals that glitter when the light hits them at just the right angle.

Lights, sound, action

I am fascinated by the impracticality of the shoes as she slowly skims the walls of the space. I am even more fascinated by her face and the way the light falls on it. She is the only one not wearing a mask. It is funny how different people look when all you can see are their eyes. There she was, moving amongst us with her entire face bare. It felt somehow more decadent than if she’d been nude.

Agata Masziewicz performs Taki Pejzaz at the Loft during the Off Europa Festival, photo: Grit Friedrich
Agata sits bare-faced as the audience looks on from behind their masks. Taki Pejzaz at the LOFFT during the Off Europa Festival, photo: Grit Friedrich

It turns out the technicians were not just technicians after all. The three of them were performing as a trio. Her movement, the lights, the video and the sound were all improvised. In a world where we currently have to plan each and every move. We have to think about who we come in contact with and who they may have come in contact with. This spontaneity was freeing and part of the me I am mourning.

How are we shaped by the people we come in contact with? What if you hadn’t had that chat on a plane? What if you hadn’t gone to that bar on that night? What if I hadn’t opened that door or made that stupid joke? Where is the fun? Where is the banter? Where are the shared experiences?

Human landscapes need human interaction

At one point, Agata sat on the stage and changed from an object of interest to a person of interest. She listed off meals she had had with friends. Had I not been vegetarian, I think my mouth would have been watering. It didn’t stop me from imagining good times over delicious food in pleasant atmospheres.

Agata Masziewicz performs Taki Pejzaz at the Loft during the Off Europa Festival, photo: Grit Friedrich
Agata Masziewicz performs Taki Pejzaz at the LOFFT during the Off Europa Festival, photo: Grit Friedrich

One thing that struck me was the use of speed in the choreography. It was all slow and methodical. I had not successfully experienced this before. It fit perfectly with the sound. Of course it did! They were all playing off each other.

Then Agata left the stage. All the lights went off except for two green spots on a wall. The sound turned into barking dogs on drugs. When Agata returned, she was playful sweater. The music got chirpy. The tempo sped up and we had to dodge her as she scooted across the floor on her back. It was magical. I felt joy. I haven’t felt that in a very long time.

Off Europa never disappoints me

A big thank you at this point to LOFFT Theater Leipzig for always facilitating things I want to see. I was only sorry I hadn’t been able to go to any of the other Off Europa:Identität Polska events that happened during the festival. It has long been one of my favorite festivals. I am happy it was able to happen. It is so important that culture continues to thrive and people are able to engage. Thank you to all who worked tirelessly. It’s not easy to pull off a 5 day festival in Leipzig, Dresden and Chemnitz during a pandemic!

Artist, curator and writer: maeshelle west-davies gleans her varied life experiences to expose a personal perspective through a multitude of mediums.

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