• © Carly Rae Heathcote

  • © Carly Rae Heathcote

  • © Carly Rae Heathcote

  • © Carly Rae Heathcote

  • © Carly Rae Heathcote


What is the impact of increasing digitalization on our lives? How does this omnipresence of a new digital sphere change our very ways of thinking, feeling, loving and expressing ourselves? Meet Bartlebabe, a creature by Anna Franziska Jäger and Nathan Ooms, a figure between human and algorithm.

 

The twenty-first century appears obsessed with a distinctly new ideal of efficiency: constantly seeking out the next strategy to control and, if possible, market the unknown and unpredictable. The tendency summed up by mantras such as ‘less friction, more flow’ has now slipped out of the corporate boardroom into our intimate lives and relationships, granting them a contractual character: the boundaries of the interpersonal and intimate must be clearly defined, experiences and relationships are to be rationally and universally assessed.

The language of the twenty-first century itself reflects this tendency: writing and talking is being streamlined and standardised in all types of templates, emoji’s and gifs. How do these evolutions alter the way in which we express and conceive ourselves? Can we even escape the mentioned tendency?

The new ideology of the digital also evokes the old “I would prefer not to”-adage by Bartleby, a clerk in one of Herman Melville’s short stories. Bartleby’s obstinate default reply to every request has retained its place in popular culture due to its unsettling effect. Bartleby’s reply does not affirm, and yet it is not a pure refusal either; rather, it renders the system in which the young clerk is expected to function impossible.

Bartlebabe is a contemporary update of the Bartleby myth, although not necessarily aware of this herself. The new ‘Bartlebabe' appropriates different forms of template-language, flirts with its generic quality and transforms it into a jargon that instead of serving communication, obstructs it and questions its very objectives. In Bartlebabe, the third collaboration between Nathan Ooms and Anna Franziska Jäger, a mass of online content undergoes an epic distortion when released into the analog reality of the theatre, taking on increasingly monstrous features.

 

Anna Franziska Jäger (1996) graduated from KASK Drama in Ghent in 2020. Bartlebabe, which was created as Anna Franziska’s graduation piece, is the third collaboration with Nathan Ooms after the performances As a matter of fiction (2018) and Some Things Last A Long Time (2019). She collaborated with Michiel Vandevelde for the performances Love Songs (Veldeke) at fABULEUS (2013) and Human Landscapes - Book I (2018). She played in the film My Queen Karo (2009) by Dorothée Van Den Berghe, Braided Love (2018) by Rand Abou Fakher and more recently in Cleo (2019) by Eva Cools. She was also featured in Desnor's Toverberg and Tibaldus’s Gekken & Specialisten.

Nathan Ooms (1996) obtained his master's degree in Drama at School of Arts | KASK Ghent in 2019. He is currently following the STUDIOS program at P.A.R.T.S.. Together with Anna Franziska Jäger, he created the performances Bartlebabe (2021), Some Things Last A Long Time (2019) and As a matter of fiction (2018). Nathan did an internship with Ula Sickle where he worked on the performance Relay (2018) and was part of Drawings (2019) by Marc Vanrunxt.