Progressive Touch, 2019

The goal of Michael Portnoy’s new multichannel video work is to “improve” sex, as he puts it. Exploring and expanding the relationship between human sexuality, choreography, and musical composition, he aims to combat the apparent simplification of rhythm in human movements and gestures. This can be observed in the industrialization of labor or the history of contemporary dance, where the relation to rhythm has been either severed or reduced to allusions to pop culture. This situation can also be noticed in the predictable cadences and movements of sexual intimacy, long since exploited, commercialized, sensationalized, or desensitized. Portnoy proposes complicating this all-too-predictable condition by introducing the complex meter and compositional structures found in progressive rock and math metal to the sexual act. A group of actors performs modified steps in the sexual encounter in slapstick vignettes. Together they make up a composition resembling a rock opera and also provide an example to be tried out at home.

Michael Portnoy
Progressive Touch: Series 1, 2019
video still
commissioned by steirischer herbst ’19
coproduction with Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg, and supported by Chris Fitzpatrick