This is an obsession that they share with discerning writers and artists like Ovid (Metamorphoses), Jorge Luis Borges (The Book of Imaginary Beings) and Walt Disney (Dumbo the Elephant). The charm of their performances, however, lies not so much in verbal exuberance as in the equally essential and characteristic little gimmicks, unobtrusive shifts of everyday life, or references to previous performances. Although you can’t really keep those last two separate, because their everyday personal lives run over so much into their professional activities.
Everything here displays an accelerated signature, powerfully stimulated by the changing colours of the background, which actually is not a background but an exquisite self-developing space. Comparable to those of Medieval manuscripts. But whereas there, in the atmosphere of religious exaltation, we see Christ appearing, often surrounded by angels with trumpets – strange creatures anyway, with those flapping wings – here there are frog-like, devilish creatures who indulge their curiosity in the contact that they seek with the public. And with what a difference! In the important message that they present, those religious illustrations of former times actually have nothing to do with the audience. The enthroned Christ and his retinues, the apostles and the saints, the blessed and the damned, are turned in on themselves. With P&L, things are somewhat different: they are really sociable, and yet narcissistic too, these apparitions. They know that they are performing for an audience, and try to attract attention with funny faces, rolling eyes, strange leaps and peculiar exercises. You notice that they are engaged in making contact, in tempting the spectators to surrender to them - and all that within those few minutes in which P&L let them loose on us.
It starts well immediately, with the entrance of the little creatures, who just stealthily peep over the edge, looking straight into the picture at the viewer, with searching glances and movements. Whatever they are, human movement is not alien to them, and so right away you start thinking up names for them. First, deciding their species. Let’s say the Xpsychityockus Moanipulapilus, with a little Roziba influence. Their names: something like Ricj and LJaqt. They are, as becomes apparent a little later, a mixture of jack-in-the-boxes and extinct animal species that have got stuck somewhere in their development. Actually, this video is a big argument against the so-called creationists, whose conviction it is that humanity stands at the centre of creation. P&L are clearly engagé with prehistoric animals which are either already extinct or have withdrawn into the most remote rain forests.
I have the suspicion that their six-minute film-clip is a distorted report on an earlier performance, if not study matter for a future one. In any case, we can interpret this video on all sorts of levels. As a charming self-portrait of the creators. Or as the search for a Darwinian composition in the deliquescent colours of the space, which at least very strongly suggest that the metamorphosing shapes have them to thank for their existence. And once set on that track, the evolutionary drawing acquires a very obtrusive strength indeed. A deterministic design, as if we are contending with forms and postures long deemed lost, which once existed between two different evolutionary ages, were subsequently lost, and which here have somehow been unearthed by P & L..
translation Bob Biddiscombe