Monday, 11 November 2013

Third time lucky?

Experimentica Day Three
Chapter Arts Centre
Friday 8th Nov

Today I could only briefly pop in to see Holly Davies’ If Only I Could Remember in which, over the course of the day, she tried to recall the ideas that were stolen from her when she was mugged in Buenos Aires. By the time I turned up there were scribblings and ideas posted all over the walls. I wish I could have seen more of the event through the day as it looked like a really interesting exploration of memory and inspiration. Please visit her website to see some of her other projects:

I also re-watched Nicholas McArthur and Robert Molly Vaughan’s The Dancing Plague of 1518, which second time round was even more manic and anarchic, they even got the audience dancing this time. Read my full review of them here:

I also found time to see some new pieces, here are my thoughts:

Matthew De Kersaint Giraudeau: Artworks That Didn’t Quite Work Out For One Reason Or Another

“Despite what you might have heard we don’t actually hate children.”

With the help of a projector and ex-girlfriend Eleanor Sikorski, the young artist wowed the audience with their (hopefully fictional) tale of setting up a ‘Radical Summer Camp’ at which they attempted to teach 11 year old children about politics, in particular anarchism – no big deal then.

With easy charm and seemingly casual narrative the pair offered us an understated alternative to the usual stand-up comedy gig. It felt like sitting in the living room with your quirky mates trying to impress you with a tall tale, it was friendly and warm and you certainly needed to take the account with a pinch of salt. 

As artists with a passion for radical politics they both joined Hackney Activists Group or H.A.G. for short. Here their odd style of flirting, involving political one-up-man-ship, eventually ended in them becoming a couple – they emphatically are no longer together.

As part for their work with H.A.G. they decided to plant the seeds of far left politics in the minds of young people, hence the summer camp. Obviously things didn’t work out quite as planned. During a session on writing manifestos all the children wanted to demand from the world were material goods – soon two factions arose, those for the PS3 and those for the Xbox360.

Things got worse during a dance session on police tactics during the riots. Whilst recreating riot scenes the children were soon inflicting torture on one another despite having been taught safe contact improvisation and lifting techniques. This all came to a disastrous conclusion when Matthew joined the session late, he had not been taught the same lifting techniques, when lifting one of the children, an unusually tall girl called Philomena, he dropped her on her head!

The anecdote quickly escalates and soon the whole group are in the middle of the riots that arose from the shooting of Mark Duggan. It seems the young delegates did learn something during their time at camp, utilising the knowledge of police behaviour they seized the opportunity to break into local shops and start looting with the help of their ‘bigger boy’ friends. As the pair so eloquently put it kids are perfect for looting, just plop them through the widow and their ‘clammy, little hands’ will do the rest.

Sadly our political friends also got arrested, charged with masterminding the looting. But they too are not as saintly as they seem, each accused the other of being behind the plot, thus saving their own skin. It’s pretty clear to see why they are no longer dating. 

This really well researched and executed piece proved that serious politics and performance can meet in a humorous and accessibly way.  A brilliantly funny and subtly clever piece that wove together the best parts of storytelling, stand-up and multimedia performance. 

Have a look at more of Matthew’s work (I recommend looking at his blog):

Pil and Galia Kollectiv: Terminal: A Miracle Play With Popular Music For The End Of The World

Through an innovative blend of film and live music the Kollectiv created a post-apocalyptic narrative that blended futuristic ideals with medieval themes of the miracle play. Between sections of the film they played their ‘music from the end of the world’ – a blend of folk, pop and futuristic melodies.

The group were highly talented musicians, playing a huge range of instruments, many of which I had never seen before. The songs, which seemed half improvised, were haunting and catchy at the same time.

The film work however was well below par, often the wind obscured the conversation and the deadpan acting, although hilarious, meant it was hard to take the narrative seriously. 

This seems to be a well researched theatrical project with interesting discussion of the breakdown of democracy and the rise of survivalist ideals at the end of the world. It also explores the very real possibility of nuclear or natural disaster, clearly interesting and engaging topics, but somehow it seemed unresolved, unfinished. Perhaps if the live performers had addressed the audience adding an interactive element, or making it feel more like a gig, this would have added that final piece to the jigsaw.  

With a bit more refinement this project could develop into a hugely enjoyable and entertaining cinematic event. 

Please have a look at the group’s website: it’s full of really interesting projects and more on Terminal.

Today politics ruled, will the weekend win my vote? (so sorry, I couldn’t help myself)

For a full line up, more info and tickets visit:
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