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Sunday, 3 March 2013

In Between Times 2013

 In February I journeyed down to Bristol for an escapist thrill to witness In Between Times 2013 International live art festival. Although I had read the programme before I went down I really wasn’t prepared for the experience that I was thrown into and felt like Alice exploring wonderland.

Parts of the trip had such an impact that I feel like certain elements are tattooed across my vision and embedded in my mind forever. I spent a lot of time with my hands covering my face to shield me as I peered through my fingers in disbelief; I spent a lot of time thinking (wtf!) and blankly trying to absorb and make sense of it all.

I walked to the college green to see the raising of the Fake Moon lifting to the sky with the actual moon behind, it marked the beginning my flirtation with the strange and new.  It all kicked off at the Arnolfini, where I saw was String Section by Reckless Sleepers. Four ladies sat on four individual chairs, well made up dignified ladies dressed in black, with nice make up, good hair and nice heels, oh and saws…

They proceeded to saw the legs of their stable perch one at a time, in a kind of crazy melodic symphony, there were moments when they individually paused to judge their surroundings and stare challengingly at the audience. Then they carried on hacking away at another leg with exotic and aggressive thrusts from the saw as their repeated motions took a little away from the chair. It was in equal parts hilarious and thought provoking; seeing four, glamorous, adult women randomly attacking the chairs with hair flailing about and legs trying to reposition themselves to become more balanced position to further demolish their personal island. 
(Reckless Sleepers at the launch party)

So that was the first night, I had a great time talking to other festival goers which resulted in a fuzzy morning and needing something lovely and comforting. Enter The Famous Lauren Barri Holstein with How to Become a Cupcake. 

(The after math from How to Become a Cupcake)

It took me quite a while to recover from this performance, I felt I needed counselling, hugs and someone to tell me it was going to be alright. I should have known better; entering the space to see a lady bouncing on a trampoline in her underwear whilst holding an ice-cream cone. I should have been more cautious and realised the risk I was putting myself in as I was herded along with the army of people, trying to squeeze into the theatre space as The Famous was singing Britney Spears in a purple wig and tiara.

I can’t really bring myself to go into too much detail (this article is better); it was certainily a live experience. Highlights included the famous peeing on a pile of popping candy amplified by microphone hooked up so everyone could hear her urine reacting with the sweet mound. Another scaring moment was when the famous laid on her back with no clothing spread eagle with a twister ice lolly tugged into her lady parts. She then got a hair dryer and we all watched her melt it to nothing but a runny pool that oozed down her legs and body.  It was cringing enough to watch from a distance, but to ensure the audience got a full view; a full screen projection screen gave us a blown up live feed.  I felt guilty, dirty and wrong for watching the whole thing through but there was something about the layers of the twister revealing a red nub that collapsed in on itself like magma, it was like taking mushrooms and becoming hypnotized by a lavalamp. I loved Disney’s Pinchonio’s and the song When you Wish Upon a Star but I don’t think I can watch the movie for a while now after they recreated their own real boy.

The whole performance was very much the flavour of Paul McCathy and Hole in my heart. I liked how bored and indifferent the other performers were. There were witty interactions and slap stick moments between the performers which lifted me from inconsolable disrepair. I felt torn between I see your point and ‘Please everybody, just stop, you’re all throwing your post-feminist view point in my face, it’s all very clever but really now my terribly prudish and English nature is struggling with this, please stop, seriously please?!’

Next was a pit stop to the Worktable by Kate McIntosh, an audience participation piece within four shipping containers redressed inside as rooms. The first room was the waiting room with shelves of objects to choose from. I was immediately drawn to a pink umbrella (obvs); there was a variety of objects which bared no relation to each other, though the collection did resemble a well-dressed charity shop.

The next room contained the worktable, whereby I was invited to destroy the umbrella.  I felt like a naughty child being destructive and loud as I smashed and shredded my selected item. Once I had finished, I looked at my efforts with a sense of guilt, I had killed my chosen umbrella, shredded it into something unrecognisable. The third room lifted this guilt with a sense of creativity and hope, as I chose another person’s deconstruction and set to repair it. The final room displayed everyone’s final works, a wonderful chaotic assortment of newly formed monuments. 

 (My reconstruction)

I managed to venture over to Circo Media, for Motus and their performance Too Late! I simple loved how experimental their practice is. This was a two person act taking on themes of anarchy, state control and civil disobedience, two very watchable performers, both had me transfixed throughout the entire show. 

(Vincent drawing in the crowd before the performance)
Finally the last piece which I managed to see was Kein Applaus for Scheisse by   Florentina Holzinger and Vincent Riebeek. The experience is a bit of a blur however certain striking moments stain my memory including Riebeek sat in an embrace with Holzinger and then jabbing his fingers down his own throat until brilliant blue vomit cascaded down his partner.  There was some dancing between this as Riebeek removed items of his clothing, peed on the floor and Holzinger slid through his legs and held a pose in his pool of wee. She then sang ‘The greatest Love of all’ still covered in Riebeek’s bodily fluid as he proceeds to hack off clumps of her blonde wig. Weirdly this was a crowning moment for me, as she shrieked out the words 

‘I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadow
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity’

I strangely identified with this idea of no matter what other people to do you; you can still have your own sense of dignity and pride. This was one of the more shocking moments within the performance there was some great Aerial Acrobats circus work by Holzinger and witty duets about being a struggling artist.

I was able to reflect on these bizarre experiences in the safety and comfort of We See Fireworks by Helen Cole who happens to also be Artistic Director and Chief Executive of In Between Time Festival. The work takes place in a pitch black room with individual lightsbulbs which illuminate parts of the room and reveal voices who retell stories of incredible performances. The piece made me consider what I had seen and how it had truly tested me, entertained me and challenged how I felt about performance, art and people. 

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and I wished I was able to stay for the whole thing. Unfortunately I saw a fragment of everything that was on because the shows were fully booked and I thought I was booking early! So be warned if you want to experience the whole thing next year, get booked up in advance because you’ll miss out!

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