a flurry of activity

even though the thesis was at the printers and most of the hard work was done, this weekend was unconveniently full of stuff to look at. in fact, i went to about 12 performances/exhibitions in 4 days – it was like i was travelling in europe again (except i also had to squeeze in a list of things to do).

here’s a little about them all:

peter greenaway’s the last supper

i went in on thursday afternoon, a little sceptical and expecting to not have to pay for the work. i grumbled a bit at the non-student prices, not to mention my initial comparison to the amazing bill viola works at venice biennale that i fell in love with. but as the light, video, painting work unfolded, i was captured. the way he manipulated that image and unlocked the narrative in the original painting was, actually, captivating. it was a subtle unfurling of rapture and i found myself thinking about it again and again – which is always a good sign for me. my criticisms are: that it needed to finish 2-3 minutes earlier than it did. that sounds like i’m being picky, but you start to anti-climax and that’s not a good way to leave a theatre, or whatever; and lose the entry fee – bill viola at NGV is free and it’s comparable to that. i know – i’m a bit all over the place with my sense of worth about things, but hey.

the french and free choice duo at craft vic:

nathan gray ended his excellent exhibition, attack decay sustain release with an evening of experimental music performance. it was a really exciting evening and lovely to see a whole bunch of peeps who had also been at electrofringe.

the french: nathan, julie burleigh and bianca hester, are an emerging collaboration that combine trad pop rhythms with electronic and other wacky sounds (air horn, anyone?). they really play on the mixture of rhythm and sound structure – which of course blissed me out to no end.
surprise of the night was the free choice duo: jarrod zlatic and jess mc elhinney, who do a great, hypnotic electronic ‘fabric’ of sound, with a performance style reminiscent of gilbert and george’s living sculptures. i’m excited about seeing these guys again – they push the audience’s sense of anticipation for all things traditionally musical: the pitch change, the bass drop, the rise and fall of the rhythm, whilst maintain this sense of utter control over the whole shebang. looking forward to seeing them again.

alex bennett at kings ARI:

brother of the fabulous suffragette city gal, victoria bennett, alex is investigating sound, performance, behaviour stuff that is complimentary to my stuff – except he’s coming at it from a musician/electro production angle. his repeat performance, using his hand-made pneumatic instruments, stagpipes and wheezebox, was absolutely amazing and i’m glad i went (despite being delirious with tiredness).

the dwelling at ACCA

while there have been better group shows at ACCA, this is still a pretty rad themed exhibition. absolute highlight of the show is the work by janet cardiff and george beures miller. i first saw their work in the silenzio exhibition at the fondazione sandretto re rebaudengo, but seeing it again here was wonderful. and then their amazing opus: opera for a small room, is almost inexplicable. it was such an overwhelming joy for me to watch/listen to/experience that i think i don’t have the words to be describe it. it’s a narrative work, played out through the sound/light-based behaviours of a hermit-type. it’s constructed through a series of animatronic responses, all enveloped in a surrounding soundtrack of opera, applause and a freight-train. it’s just amazing – so perfectly executed. it made me want to work as their assistant.

it has similarities to work by the kienholzes and a bit like the not-quite-as-engaging mike nelson work in altermodern at the tate triennial ealier this year. But that comparison is only for the purpose of giving you an idea of its scale and scope, rather than as a derogatory way of undermining the work.

just go and see it.

dictionary of imaginary places at the meat market

i was originally intrigued by the source material: sound recordings of conversations on the train and have been keen to see more work at the meat market. thankfully i had no expectations of the work, because it quite a confronting performance – the performers seated and facing the audience in a row of tiered seating – and then acting out a stream-of-consciousness barrage of monologues collaged together. it was almost a dada performance, quite insane in some parts. and i loved it. i enjoyed seeing the bizarre costumes and the random acts of shoving shoes up leotards and copies of mx into bras. wacky. and utterly enjoyable. it gave me a new appreciation for the absurd – as an artform and a phenomenon that presents itself regularly on public transport.

my disco at the forum (becks’ rumpus room)

after the drama of DIP, the ernest intensity of the first band, your animal, was way too much for me and i just had to sit up the back and chatter. it’s far from my usual way of engaging with music, but i just couldn’t take it in, and there’s no real break-out area at the forum with a gig like this.

beaches are a band who do the wall of sound like it ain’t no thing – a band of 5 gorgeous ladies, who bob mould would be prouda. but, like the vivian girls at TINA, my main criticism is that, it feels like they’re riding on the ‘novelty’ value of that gender thing a little too much. their stage presence is pretty uncompelling and i would love to see the vocal element of their work either tightened or dropped altogether – it just undermined the amazing musicianship that the band has.

my disco, on the other hand, are just a 3 piece and take up the stage like they’re movin’ in. they were mesmerising in their perfomance and their sound is hypnotic. liam resembles ian curtis in the memetic intensity of his movements and between the 3 of them, their ability to turn trad instruments into pulsating electronic waves is amazing.

pornography – deutsches schauspielhaus von hamburg

i almost didn’t buy a ticket to this ‘cos i had pretty much spent my festival budget in the first day, but i’m so glad i took the risk. it was a fantastic production.
the sets were amazing – in that they were well-integrated into the dialogue and performance, they were changeable, yet consistent, meaningful as metaphor and abstract enough to be ‘furniture’.
watching a play in german was great and i surprised myself with the level of understanding i had (i only partially referred to the surtitles for bits i didn’t know) and it was quite amusing sometime seeing the different timings of audience reaction between those who understood german, and those who were reading the english translation. sometimes the actor wouldn’t have finished the sentence and the audience were laughing and other times there was a quiet laughter – followed about a minute later by a louder response.
it was confronting, heartwarming, tragic, entertaining and enlightening all at once. and i didn’t even get bored. the ensemble approach to the casting and 8 stories was ace and made for a tight production. definitely would go and see it again, given the chance.

phew! what a weekend, huh. satisfying, though. and i’m looking forward to seeing more stuff over the next few weeks.

image credits: all images from the melbourne international arts festival are from the festival website: http://melbournefestival.com.au.
alex bennett’s images is from the kings ari site
the image of the free choice duo and nathan gray is from craft victoria‘s facebook page

update: the thesis is now in. w00t! i now only have to present my research next week and it’s all done. huzzah!

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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