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The Shape Of Things To Come: a tangled up mess?

2 Sep

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A beautiful and strange smell reaches your nostrils, as you walk into gallery 6 at The Saatchi Gallery. But looking around you definitely feel as though you ought not to like it. And that’s what the entire exhibition feels like.

Beauty in the absurd, the tragic and the disturbing, ‘The Shape of Things to Come’, is a tangled up mess, capturing the chaos we’re feeling as a society. Car crashes, toppling monuments and rubble tell a narrative of post-modern art.

My Highlights:

Peter Buggenhout, The Blind Leading The Blind #21 (2007)

Tragic, beautiful, perception.

David Altmejd, The New North (2007)

Metamorphosis, boundaries, spirtual.

Sterling Ruby, Headless Dick, Deth Till (2008)

Chaos, riot, bleak.


Not your average band: British Sea Power

27 Jul

British Sea Power is not your average band. They’ve played in museums, floating on the Thames and in libraries, then they brought they’re indie grot to Exeter Phoenix.

And as for your average warm up, they had a drunk man, dressed in a kilt and tartan hat, who ‘stretched out’ on stage before reciting poetry. Nonsensical rhymes, ending with this bite of ‘wisdom’, “I once woke up in a ditch clutching a packet of Sugar Puffs.”

But back to the main event.

To dress the stage they adorned the speakers, mics, and instruments with trees and foliage (some from Exeter Phoenix’s terrace), a fox mask and had rainbow lights. They opened with ‘Waving Flags’ from their 2008 album ‘Do you like rock music’, and played for 2 hours. If you’ve listened to their music, you’ll know it’s varied from when they began, but they have kept the selection of instruments. Their antics onstage made it memorable for me. They crowd surfed, threw their guitars in the air (and dropped one) and, told us to “shush” – with success.

I’d give them a fantastically original 4/5

Process, Personality And Human Error is All Part Of The Show

3 Jul

The Improsarios

I’m now Marketing Officer extraordinaire at the best-connected arts centre in town, so I’ve been hopping from show, to performance, to gig a lot recently (hence, ahem, my brief hiatus from blog entries). But from my overview, over the past couple months…

Bryony Kimmings, Sex Idiot – sexy, participatory, glam, revealing.
EDge (contemporary dance) – fast paced, slow paced, deconstructed, relaxed toes.
Acoustica – dancing amongst the trees by Exeter Castle to singers on a camouflaged stage, it felt every inch the Acoustic music fest that Devon does best.
Spacex talk: Making Is Connecting – (illustrated by gardening lego men), the talk placed web 2.0’s trend, for makers to connect over their creations, in the context of art history.
The Improsarios – audience lead comedy, where the cock-ups were as hilarious as the on cue and in-sync acting, but which lead the story to come together perfectly – somehow – in the end.
How To Climb a Mountain – can be summed up by this; two men, one a photocopier the other a man, re-enacted a photocopier breaking so precisely, accurately and comedically, that they didn’t need props, sounds or lighting.]

…where was I? Ah yes. Trends, current observances and general shifting in performances / shows / whatever you want to call them.

Performances are bring undone, deconstructed, improvised and transparent – and I don’t mean Most Haunted style – by that I mean, if a mistake happens it becomes part of the routine; the costume change becomes part of the narrative, audience contributions welcomed, nay, encouraged! Process, personality, human error are part of the show.

Although all this might seem gloriously simple, and deconstructed sounds a lot simpler than constructed (but, think IKEA furniture), I cannot imagine turning up for a performance and having no idea who the characters will be, where the scenes take place or what the climax of the plot will be (like The Improsarios) or sing, dance act solo, whilst reliving (possibly) painful personal memories (like Bryony Kimmings). This is why I salute this approach to performance, and I’m looking forward to whatever is next.

p.s. If you missed Acoustica In The Park in June, the Acoustica Festival is coming up on 17 & 18 September, in Exeter.
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