Touch. Proximity. Immediacy. In response to these suppressed needs due to the ongoing pandemic, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui revisits 4D (2013), in which he originally explored various facets and dynamics of couplehood through four duets. After reexamining and contextualising its themes, the show is cast into the present day and reborn as 4D+. The extension of the title hints at the positive outcome of a test, the increasing value of a share on the stock market, or the presence of a new dimension yet to be discovered and defined. Not four, but five live staged duets constitute this evening. Five isolated duos, constrained within their own narratives, but all part of the same theatrical world. A world where - just like in the real world - nothing is completely secluded and where every small detail can shift perception of what has passed or give direction to what is coming.
Matter in its initial avatar was a pivotal sequence in the 2008 work Origine: it is a tender and funny ode to the solitude of 21st century existence and the ever-growing cult of consumerism, where our closest relationships may not be with another human being, but the objects around us, objects which stand between us and a chasm of emotional emptiness.
Pure was originally made as part of a site-specific festival on the beaches of Oostende - this lyrical, virtuosic duet also featured in Cherkaoui’s TeZukA (2011). This duet explores the implications of purity, and the overwhelming preoccupation with the concept. Cherkaoui questions whether purifying a body could make that body disappear and if absolute purity does not actually mean that nothing will be left.
Taking the asymmetrical but inevitable duality between debtor and creditor as the starting point, Cherkaoui specially created Debt as the centrepiece of 4D+. Two businessmen investigate the power dynamics within their partnership, while they depend on one another to make and break deals. But they appear to be trapped inside a vicious circle, one that keeps up the illusion of infinite economic growth in a finite world.
Sin was created for the 2010 piece Babel(words) by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and the French-Belgian choreographer Damien Jalet. The duet explores the opposition between Eros and Thanatos, or the instinct of life against that of death within the intimacy of a couple. The destructive instinct of the passion, the toxicity that can arise within a couple, the search for domination and the imbalance between two people… all these find their way into this relationship.
Finally, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui revisits Stéphane Mallarmé’s tale of sexual awakening in Faun, created in 2009 as part of Sadler’s Wells Theatre’s centenary homage to Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Cherkaoui positioned this duet as a study of dual energies discovering and rekindling each other, and the inevitable moment of harmony, then unison, as one merges into the other and the two become an indissociable whole. Twelve years later, Cherkaoui casts a danseuse as the eponymous faun, and, suddenly, we see how fluid gender markers are, how irrelevant, actually, when faced with youthful, enquiring ardour that is a celebration of life.