Posts tagged ‘Arts’
presented by Strings Attached & Younes Bachir
Underbelly Arts Festival, Turbine Hall, Cockatoo Island, July 2011
This site-specific, one-off performance was probably the hottest ticket on the island last Saturday, and those lucky enough to get a booking were mostly unsure what to expect. If they had done the Underbelly Arts Lab tour in the fortnight leading up to the festival they might have known it would be physical, aerial theatre exploring humanity in its primal, post-catastrophic element. But we should know better than to reduce expressionism down to baser meanings, and be ready to accept a performance as it stands. Or in this case, take it as it runs, desperately seeking food or shelter, oblivious to the peering masses of onlookers crowding the cavernous space, we should take this sort of theatre as it screams, as it flies, as it hungers, as it fights for survival. For the one thing it does not do is simply stand still. Or when it does, it’s as a metaphor covered in meat.
As this performance is once-only I feel at liberty to explain; the bulk of the piece takes place at one end of the massive turbine hall. After a poetic prologue from a delirious flying dreamer we are invited through, behind canvas curtains, into a place he describes as “my mind”. There are no seats, and milling around we discover various bodies twisted, shivering amongst mud and metal wreckage, pieces of cars, clotheslines, the detritus of our time. If anyone else like me had been irked by the glut of “disaster porn” earlier this year, it was irresistible to be reminded of that by the shifting, shuffling crowd, not wanting to look too close, but all angling for a glimpse of these suffering humans. Too evocative of that unspeakable pain we could not help but see broadcast over and over to the point of fatigue.
So begins a series of violent theatrical vignettes as the people emerge from the wrecked piles of junk and literally, metaphorically and physically begin to rebuild society. What was a matter of desensitisation is now shocked back at us in the wonderful post-industrial expressionism of a crazed world. Echoes of Lord of the Flies and Tetsuo: Bodyhammer resonate to capture the bizarre fusion of human and technology, fear and futurism. The audience are as much involved as spectator, being shunted around as new elements of the performance begin or end we must move toward or away from the action. It’s pure spectacle and music in Aristotle’s terms; with characters as primal archetypes in mimesis, the barest of narrative as a visual catharsis.
I always wonder why ‘traditional’ theatre writers can’t seem to cope with new forms as these. Audiences seem to love it. It’s equally puzzling when all the elements of the convention are present, just managed in new ways, new styles. But then, I suppose traditional theatre writers are too busy sharpening their pen-knives to dissect traditional theatre to worry about turning up to something so unconventionally imagined as this. It’s definitely theatre, definitely modern, and definitely just a little bit ancient and primal, too. Well I for one; don’t mind if one less critic is in the audience. OJO was sold out, so more luck for the rest of us.
OJO: at the Underbelly Arts Festival, Cockatoo Island. Featuring Younes Bachir, Alejandro Rolandi, LeeAnne Litton, Dean Cross, Kathryn Puie, Angela Goh, Matt Cornell, Mark Hill, Kate Sherman, Carolyn Eccles, Gideon PG, Robbie Ho, Matt Rochford, Elisa Bryant, Charlie Shelly, Julia Landery, Victoria Waghorn, Cameron Lam, Craig Hull, Leanne Kelly.
A prologue / preview / preamble / preliminary post pre-empting a progressive persuasion, picking apart the preconceptions of popular culture, performance and post-Howard arts funding.
Part Zero: Survivor Season Twenty: Heroes vs Villains
I’m no friend to ‘reality’ TV but this has become one of my favourite shows of recent times. It’s pure-grilled American cheese, true; and after ten years and nineteen seasons you have to hand it to the folks behind this for keeping it real. Rarely have you seen characters of this complexity outside HBO; and for that, each self-contained series provides its own fascinating insight into the human condition.
in the face of marked media indifference to a vibrant arts scene this tiny chink of light we call 5thwall is born – to bring back proper arts discussion unhindered by marketing interests and call to account the insipid cultural gatekeeping of the media at large.