Friday, January 29, 2010

New Documentation

While reading through Tim EtchellsCertain Fragments I came to realise that its title did in all ways reflect its contents and style. It is a fragmented bundle of essays, writings and ideas. Basically the ideal book for me, as it allows you to choose from a lot of material easily and quickly without going into too much of academic issues for fifty pages that don't give any satisfaction as it's all about an ongoing research.

'That documentation of live events is an attempt at capture, a dragging down of the ephemeral into the fossilising mud of all that is fixed and fixing'

While strongly agreeing to that concept, recognising the ephemeral qualities of live performance, I consider it necessary to keep track of one's work, and when one's work has to do with images, its documentation must be, at least partially, made of images. The documentation of work may be a starting point of collaborations and discussion and in no way does it actually represent a piece of performance.

So here are some photos taken yesterday, that document 'What you see is what you get?'. Some fragments of the show were 'replayed' live so as to get more quality stills than what was possible during the performances in December. 
Thanks to Jeanne Mirodatos, who was extremely dextrous at shining six torches at a time and to Giacomo Natali, who had worked with me for the performance, producing its soundtrack and assisting in technical matters.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mannequin - Dress me up!

My next project involves the audience in a different way. I am asking them to bring clothes for me to perform in and the pieace will evolve around the indirect and yet very personal participation of spectators. Their clothes will be exhibited on stage, revealing each spectator's tastes, behaviour and ideas. After all, clothing always says something about us.

Butoh and miscellaneous

The Mime Festival London is an annual event that brings together performers from different backgrounds and practice. However, as the name suggests, it is not exactly theatre or performance that the festival deals with. Looking through their site while getting informed on what was on and what could possibly interest me, I got the feeling that this initiative was very close to the art of circus, which I did admire as a child. Of course with the fusion of different arts together it is difficult to define a piece by a single term, but when an element seems to take over by far more than the others, then we are bound to tag it as such and such.

One of the works that caught my attention (and mind you, it was probably the only one on the internet site that did not include a video trailer) was Kitt Johnson's Rankefod. One of the reasons why I went to see it was that the performance was a solo work and since I have been doing solos so far, I considered it useful to see how she handled it. Also I am fascinated by the Japanese Butoh dance and although I have just received some basic training in that field so far, there is much to learn by watching. 

Kitt Johnson gave a stunning Butoh performance, yet very personal. Rankefod explored the origins of species and the dancer's body went though a series of transitions, which, combined with fairly simple but effective lighting, created images that were somehow awkward in appereance and yet familiar in their organicism. The exploration of species, translated into by the body of the dancer, was certainly given more weight by the nudity of the body, which revealed all muscles and therefore the smallest movements were sensed by just perceiving the breathing of veins. Butoh dance is often performed without clothing, tending to concentrate the spectators' attention solely on the body, which is the protagonist of the piece. The body of the dancer assumes such a strong role that it would overshadow any other static objects or set design which are part of the performative space. 

But however empty the scene looked to us, certain light effects revealed the presence of a panel at the back of the stage. Although its texture permitted some versatility in the visual play of light I found that it did not fit with the blunt and powerful presence of the body, the white and homogenous texture of its skin. The fakeness of the panel was reveled at the end of the show when lights were switched on and it triumphed in all its kitch and heaviness. It became the backdrop for the after show discussion. I didn't ask 'Why this panel?' because  the interviewer annoyingly paraphrased the audiences' questions for the official recording of the talk. 

It was a very good dance performance despite the fact that stage settings did not quite work for my understanding of the relationship body-space. Kitt Johnson's long plait, even though understandably there for practical reasons, seemed very much like those magic tails in Avatar, which gave the sense of species in a broader context, making this small detail more meaningful than the crafty and cumbersome panel.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ideas Progressing

As work is developing towards my next performance, here is a little construction I made at the wood  workshop yeasterday. By tomorrow it will become a container, another step of involving the audience in an unintrusive way.

dimensions: 90x40x80

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Some of the first images from my photography work depicting objects lid by a torch. This project is part of my project proposal  submitted in January.
Torches come from my last performance 'What you see is wht you get?'

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Art in a Van

Last weekend I enjoyed a nice day at Brixton Market in South London. Every place we go to has an aim to it and visiting a market usually implies shopping or dining, and if Brixton is the place, then dining would most probably include African and Caribbean cuisine. Well my aim for going there does indeed expresses my Italian side as I came to discover that the best pizza in London can only be found at the entrance of the market, precisely under the banner 'Franco Manca', but you won't miss it, queues are just as massive as the ones in the best pizzerias in Naples.

After a delicious Margherita I strolled around the market, looking at some of the peculiar products offered on sale; markets are always full of new and amazing things to get to know. And they are all there to explore without obligation to buy them and stuff your home with things in boxes, beacuse very often, that is where great bargains end up.

I came across an art initiative called Art in a Van. The installation on show that day was a small camera obscura, in which audience was invited and from where one of the shops could be spied on, with the upside projection of its image. 

What I liked about the work set up in that particular place was the drastic contrast between colours, movement and light outside and the dark room from which one could see the outside. Although the image could have been reinverted in order to look at it correctly, in my opinion, it was left upside down not only becasue of the poor materials and little space at disposal, but also to underline the fact that it is a 'mechanism' we looked through to see the shop infront of us. Once we came out the same view became (or just went back to) a completely different reality.

If you are interested to go and see it, it's on till the 11th of March and must be open the same hours as the market. I would advise that you don't leave the market without trying the pizza...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Versatile for Versatility's Sake

Recently a multidisciplinary performance with the curious name of 'Room Temperature Romance' was presented at the Barbican Pit Theatre. It was performed by two young dancer-coreographers and I considered it could be interesting for me mainly from a technical point of view.

What struck me as an audience member was the fact that everyone around me was eating and drinking prior to the show and when the performance started the noise of munching and slurping was transformed into giggles and laughter. Well it's great to be around happy people, but it almost felt like a little ritual to cover 'funny moments' rather than a natural reaction.

The performance was very stage centred, and there was the typical 'theatre' presence which drew the audiences' attention fully, for a whole seventy minutes, no interval. Eleni Edipidi and Bethanie Harrison showed off for spectators, keeping an eccentric behaviour on stage. Two girls lived in their fancy world of fashion and dreams on stage, thus making the barrier between performer and audience an important aspect of the piece, despite the performers' original statement, found on the leaflets outside the theatre, that said 'We encourage an intimate exchange between audience and performer'.

Fancy dresses, talking about boys, swinging on ropes, digital projections that somehow resembled MTV music videos and little IKEA lights that were randomly turned on and off were all part of a set design in motion that probably wanted to say too much and so couldn't keep a story running throughout. The Frida Kahlo-like painted eyebrows of the two performers immediately granted them more character, but after a while they didn't seem to have any meaning except underlining the constant presence of the performers on stage. The performance was based on appearances, and it was very narcissistic altogether, which is probably why I did not find it particularly original.

There were surely lots of ideas there , but they were scattered in a pattern that did not put them together to make a good whole, and even if the aim was to present a dispersive world of various aesthetic realities, it was not done with a consistency that justified its length. The final video projection was a documentation of the work in progress, which showed the performers trying on their fancy dresses and giggling for another five minutes, with subtitles and names, which seemed more of an excuse to have a video work on the wall rather than part of the piece.

Whoever may have the opportunity of seeing this award winning piece I wouldn't want to ruin them the ending, although this notion probably comes from watching cinema and not theatre. So I might as well go on by saying that the storming in on stage of dozens of soft toy pigs, with their own mechanism of moving legs and wagging curly tails was most probably the most interesting part of the whole piece and could have been a starting point for a new performance. As the audience got up to leave and was naturally drawn to go and see the litte pigs from closer, they were immediately stopped by staff as if they were attacking the dancers...intimate exchange?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year...Old Story? London and Snow

Happy New Year 2010!

I haven't updated my blog not due to the Christmas holidays (although they are always a nice break), but due to the fact that they coincided with writing our first term essays. It's been good to put together my ideas in a more formal context, so I am looking forward to feedback now.

As we are also preparing our portfolio to present on the 15th of January, right on Monday I started my normal school life. To my surprise, I soon found out that England is not in fact a country that can be found on a world map within the range of Northern Europe. Here, snow is a phenomenon that everyone fears, and  when it comes, people prepare for war. In fact, Wimbledon College of Art was closed its doors today, with no previous notice, and it seemed like a ghost building that has been empty for over 20 years. You could give the same judgement if you had the pleasure of staying in the MA studio the last couple of days and realised that the temperature was probably lower in there than outside. 

Well, let's see how this year goes! I am very satisfied with my work so far and also happen to have extremely creative and supportive colleagues. For the rest I haven't got mastercard, but we will make it work!