Mirrors ring a claustrophobic space, fractalizing it into infinity. Lights flash. Enter the riot police. Obscured behind darkened face shields, they menace. And then they begin dancing. Conceived by London/Paris multidisciplinary collaboration PentHouss, Call to Arms blends movement, sound, light, and architecture in an immersive meditation on power, resistance, and control. Reacting to the crackdowns on people’s movements from the U.S. and the U.K. to Turkey and Hong Kong, where protests are met with overly-armored use of force, artists Anna Lann and Yonathan Trichter, curator and creative partner Helen Neven, and choreographer Ekin Bernay joined to mobilize a response.
Call to Arms conveys the experience of political mobilization by appropriating the garb of the powerful themselves. The dancers in PentHouss’s performance skew the “us” versus “them” mentality the state profits on and challenge those who might steer clear of direct action to understand on-the-ground reality. By leveraging the uniform as costume and turning the synchronized movements of militarized police forces into a kind of dance, PentHouss exposes the theatrics inherent to such shows of force (what they refer to as “the instrumentalization of fear”).
PentHouss uses movement to evoke the power of physical solidarity and to show that, as its title suggests, modes of resistance remain. As PentHouss writes: “Movement is dance; movement is assembly; movement is a call to arms.”