OOPS. The festival is almost over and I haven't covered much of it. I've seen a lot (A LOT) but I've also been moving house and have no internet access. I reconciled myself to this and was going to save myself for a festival wrap-up but a post over at Matt C's Esoteric Rabbit (hi Matt! I sat in front of you at Euro House last night!) crystallised how my responses to this year's festival have been pretty much the opposite to those of everybody else on the web.
Firstly, my highlights have been European House and Hunger, both of which were disappointments to some, along with Shaun Parker's This Show is About People, which was just outstanding. I was largely unmoved by Kitson and Wilson, and Laurie Anderson was ok, but nothing special. Again, I don't seem to be in the majority here.
But what's really had me scratching me noggin is exactly what Matt pinpoints in the post linked above: not the problem of noisy, disrespectful audiences, but of audiences who find that so irksome. In what world is a Merce Cunningham piece set to John Cage's music supposed to be enjoyed in silence? This is the dude for whom incidental audience noise could be a composition in itself.
I know it's my hobby horse, but it's one I've pursued for years. The behaviour of audiences is tied to the process of socialisation - a "disciplined" and silent viewer is a recent historical construction that serves very particular purposes mirroring the larger demands of Western liberal capitalist ideology. Compare the behaviour of audiences for traveling Russian cinemas,
or 19th century American Shakespearean performances, or Indonesian music theatre (which is what riled me so much about Wilson's show last year). "Encore" once meant something - say, getting Hamlet to do his last soliloquy again, it was that good.
Anyway, my point is that if I want to absorb some wonderful art on my own, without being reminded of the presence of others, I stay home and watch TV.
And I don't watch much TV.