.Riley Martin (2006)
documentation of project
.Low Profile (2006)
.For Carla (2006)
.Science fiction (2005)
3 short stories
.Queer perspective (2004)
.Beste Pam Emmerik (2005)
2 water colours
Low Profile are Rachel Dobbs and Hannah Jones.
They both like games, stories and laughter.
The performance Low Profile presents: A Lesson in Love (Rotterdam
2004) was a game. It was a game that Rachel Dobbs and Hannah Jones had
invented. The rules to the game were listed in a leaflet that the audience
could take and read. For this performance Jones and Dobbs had written
down as many titles of love songs as they could think of. They had collected
them in a hat and had taken them out one by one. This action determined
a list of maybe a hundred songs, which was the base to their performance.
For maybe an hour the audience saw Dobbs and Jones struggling memorizing
all these titles of songs. They failed. Hey, this isn’t a nice game!
Dobbs and Jones are storytellers and they borrow words from others. They
must have known that all these songs they thought of —tasteful or
not— contained different connotations and different memories for
people. Low Profile doesn’t try to dictate the audience’s
perception. They tell you about their own experiences and feelings.
A cleverly told story was Low Profile’s An Introduction
(Rotterdam 2004). In this performance Jones and Dobbs presented their
need to grasp their lives in lists. The audience found ginger cookies
on their seats. Dobbs and Jones were seated on a bench opposite to the
audience. The overhead projector and slide projector, which projected
traces of evidence for their story, became theatre lights.
Their game of list making had become a story, and the audience is trapped
in a game between fiction and non-fiction. It didn’t surprise anybody
that Jones and Dobbs made lists with artists to memorize or friends to
buy Christmas presents for in April, but it was of course their reasoning
of their choices that gripped the audience. Dobbs and Jones may seem absurd,
but the artists mentioned in this performance aren’t absurd or randomly
chosen. These offer the context in which to understand their story. And
by presenting it as fiction in a theatre set-up Dobbs and Jones released
their audience from playing the role of the voyeur.
Hannah Jones and Rachel Dobbs aren’t one. Each of them makes her
own lists and has her own favours. In 2005 they question their dependency
on each other in the performance Just in Case. With two paper
megaphones they guided small groups of people in and around an art centre
in Rotterdam without directly addressing them. They list their fears to
each other by naming their personal emergency equipment. Sometimes they
scream to each other over the heads of the audience. And sometimes they
whisper and present it as a bedtime story. And what? They split up! One
takes one part of the group. And the other goes into another direction
with her part of the group. Luckily we all get united and bravely face
together the steep ladder from the cellar to one of the exhibition spaces.
Jones and Dobbs get the best out of their audience. Dobbs and Jones are
kind artists. They share their fear of losing each other with their audience
and by doing so conquer this fear.
With their performances Dobbs and Jones find themselves in a tradition
between theatre and artists’ performances. They connect to artists
and theatre makers who feel an urge to involve spectators, either physically
or emotionally. By choosing everyday topics and presenting themselves
as “only human” Low Profile intends to emancipate
its spectators instead of using, insulting or hurting them for the sake
Storytelling is manipulative. Jones and Dobbs are of course playing games
with their audiences, but they would hate any inequality between them
and their spectators. They give their audience the best part of their
friendship: trust, understanding and ginger cookies. Dobbs and Jones are
having fun, but I assume it is very hard work to keep their friendship
both fictional and real, the motor and tool of their art. Dobbs and Jones
will not be stopped until they have inspired their audiences to beat them
in their own game and become artists themselves. And that is admirable.
Suzanne van Rossenberg