Performance and video dances
The boundary between performance and video dance is not explicit in Pola’s work, as we can see in the performance she presented at the International Performance Art Festival that took place at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, Italy in 1979 where Pola presented her Videodanza Viva Videodanza and in which, as described elsewhere in this webpage, she danced in front of mirrors with the camera on her shoulder while recording the audience.
That same year she performs the video dance Amante set in Puerto Vallarta, accompanied by the ocean, the vegetation and background music. The video documentation includes Papalotl and Videodanza, both from 1979, which were made in the patio of a house in Xochimilco to music by Luis Pérez.
On the other hand, Toma el video abuelita y enseñame tu ropero, which is classified by researcher Florence Toussaint as a Video Performance, was presented at the Museo del Chopo in 1982. There is no video documentation of it, only a spot taped by TV UNAM where Pola invited the television audience to attend, to take a piece of old clothing of their grandparent’s and to have fun with this performance in which she presented a video dedicated to her grandparents Ramón Alvarez Soto ¹ and María Dalcourt.
In the presentation brochure Verónica Volkow writes that for Pola video is a form of memory, a confrontation of images with the disorganized immediacy of recollection.
One of Pola’s best known performances is Extrapolación, presented at the Galería Chapultepec on Wednesday July 29, 1982 at eight o’clock at night. In the taped material you can see a character with a mime’s mask offering Pola a rose while she tapes the actor’s slow steps.
According to Mario Ficachi ², Pola’s friend who was the main character in this performance within the performance, his entrance was not planned, he just decided to show up at Pola’s presentation in disguise and surprise her. Little did he know that his action would become part of the video artist’s performance.
Pola’s performance intended to introduce several of her friends, among them Eduardo de la Fuente, who reads the tarot to a participant and then shows one of his paintings. Pola then announces that she will edit the material obtained by the camera in situ and present it later.
The promotional brochure of this event mentions that the videos Autovideato, El avión, Ciudad Mujer Ciudad and Somos Mujeres were presented that same day. On Thursday 30 and Friday 31 of July, Cuetzalan y yo, Todavía estamos, Cuilapan de Guerrero, Los muertos de Etla, Santa Cruz Tepexpan, La Venusina nace y Reforma, Sol o Águila and Exoego 8 were screened.
As part of the presentation of the events Pola writes in the brochure:
"She extrapolates (you), she extracts you from the darkness where there are still no images and brings you to the light, gives birth to them and you see the light (are born)"
In terms of La Venusina renace y Reforma, the piece she performed outside the Auditorio Nacional in 1980, we can say it is a video dance-performance, because Pola performs in a white suit carrying her camera and dances in front of fake silver painted walls resembling mirrors which are held by her assistants. At the same time she records the audience and when she finishes her action she goes up to each of the spectators, shakes hands with them and tapes them.
A young reporter who interviews Pola after the performance is also taped and she does the same with the rest of the assistants. The impression that Pola caused on a teenage girl who says she can’t express in words what the video artist provoked in her through the music is remarkable, while the other persons interviewed don’t know what to answer when asked about what they have seen.
Tununa Mercado writes the following in the promotional poster:
"Inside and outside a spectacle, simultaneously object and subject in a performance, Pola Weiss arrives at the National Auditorium. There, outdoors, at the esplanade next to the Campo Marte, she uses a loudspeaker to invite passersby. She displays her videotaping instruments and, both creator and creature –Pola and Venusina- in an act of unique love, explores the images and the sounds that surround her and records them, capturing them in their absolute spontaneity while she dances…"²
The following performances and video dances were not documented in video and we only know about them through Pola’s typed notes:
• Es como un sueño (Kansas City Art Institute),
• Stereodanza (MonteVideo Art Gallerie) and
• Juego del Ego (Galeria Pecanins)
² Video interview made on Friday March 15, 2012 at the home of the theater director and cartoonist.
³ Tununa Mercado in La Venusina renace y Reforma (1980), promotional brochure.