Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Melbourne International Arts Festival (3)


Deborah Hay has done it again! The renowned US choreographer is back up to her old tricks in this hilarious, madcap romp that veers between outrageous satire and chin-stroking lecture like an out-of-control dune buggy piloted by a blindfolded hula girl being attacked by pigeons. There's dinosaur suits, animated store dummies, a melancholy interlude featuring the captain from the Flight Centre commercials and cranberries - so many cranberries! Plus it's all set to the driving beat of Imagination's 1982 disco hit Just An Illusion.

Wait a minute! That's not If I Sing To You! It would be great, sure, but so is If I Sing To You. Problem is, I can't really think of a way of describing this show without making it sound boring (or at least boring to me). Huge empty stage, six dancers doing Deb Hay stuff, often not doing much at all. It's brilliant and I felt glad I finally got to see the choreographer's work first hand. Still, if you were a newcomer to performance it would probably be the sort of thing to turn you off for life. So thick, so dense, so ethereal and snow-flakey that even the act of watching it causes it to begin to crumble. So imagine what describing it on this here blog would do to it!

I did have a bit during the performance where I began thinking of a performance that includes the audience being taken on an airplane. How rad would that be? You unsuspectingly turn up to Tullamarine
and part of the performance is on the plane and then some of it occurs at your destination and then back again. A bit of an IRAA piece. I do know that there is a work coming up that includes a section on a boat (a real boat) in Williamstown. That'll have to do for now.

An aside: here is a video of Bjork explaining how her television works (sort of). It is wonderful. "You shouldn't let poets lie to you."

Another aside: here are some reimagined book covers. Excellent.

The Children's Choice Awards are a great MIAF initiative. A bunch of kids are attending and reviewing the MIAF program. Go to the blog where they're keeping a running commentary. It's great. It also had me thinking once again about how critics, audiences and artists are always so eager to a) talk about kids and b) talk about the need for "dialogue" and "discussion" in the arts world but almost never listen to children. Children's voices are far more interesting than most adults as they're not filled with cliches and increasingly empty terms (see "dialogue" and "discussion"). This was what I was thinking about during the whole Bill Henson dialogue/discussion.


This sound installation at Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces is worth checking out if you've got a free minute (or 1000 free minutes). It's 100 sets of headphones playing 100 different works ranging from familiar avant-artists (Sonic Youth, Chicks on Speed, Sun O)))) to really, really out-there stuff (Japanese artist Junko's extended a cappella screaming track). A lot of the pieces come from Japan, Germany, Australia or the US, not surprisingly, but the range overall is huge. That's probably the only problem - there must be thousands of hours of sound in this one space, so your experience will be a bit of a chance operation game. It's beautifully presented, though, and the one-way mirror onto Gertrude St means you can stare at passing Fitzroy traffic while listening to some amazing sounds.


Alison Croggon said...

Hi Born Dancin' - good to read about Deborah Hay, another show I won't see. Funny that dilemma of how to write about performance. I felt very similar about Jerome Bel (and by no means solved the problem) - to describe it made it sound empty and banal, yet it was so much the reverse of that in effect. Actually this ongoing problem is probably one of the challenges that keeps me blogging...

Alison Croggon said...

PS I always listen to children, mainly because they give me no choice.

Born Dancin' said...

"that dilemma of how to write about performance" - Ha! That's putting it mildly. Writing about performance is performance itself, in a way.

"Who claims Truth, Truth abandons. History is hir'd, or coerc'd, only in Interests that must ever prove base. She is too innocent, to be left within the reach of anyone in Power,- who need but touch her, and all her Credit is in the instant vanish'd, as if it had never been. She needs rather to be tended lovingly and honorably by fabulists and counterfeiters, Ballad-Mongers and Cranks of ev'ry Radius, Masters of Disguise to provide her the Costume, Toilette, and Bearing, and Speech nimble enough to keep her beyond the Desires, or even the Curiosity, of Government." Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon

Alison Croggon said...

Writing about performance is performance itself, in a way.

I reckon.

Great quote, too.

Anonymous said...

okay. but why did the pretty girl in the harlequin vest have a moustache and goatee?