One night, three artists. SOLO Contemporary Performance Forum presented two nights of hand picked artists from the vast Bristol-talent pool to perform within the four walls of Trinity Centre, Bristol.
Picture the scene: there was a cold frost from the March evening which left the crowd eager to huddle into a packed dark room, a room lit up by one single spotlight. While I waited, I sat there asking myself a series of questions about anger, uncertainty, risk and identity. I wanted to know why Hannah Sullivan was angry. I wanted to know how Jo Hellier alluded to the future of the environment in “Flood plan”. I also wanted to know how Alessandro portrays lies and how raw emotion can be reflected through dance. The answers to these questions, I begun to find out as the spotlight switched onto Hannah who stared vacantly to the back of the room…
[custom_heading center=”true”]Anger & Risk[/custom_heading]
The sense of tension was unbearable as Hannah Sullivan spoke out loud to the audience, the audience played the role of therapist as she looked out and asked “When was I last angry?” – a question which almost instantly reverberated back into my mind as I asked myself the same thing. Hannah’s performance was an experiment in articulating anger.
The performance evolved like a course of therapy sessions as Hannah begun to talk of childhood memories, pre-supposing her 8 year old self as she used powerful imagery to describe the black silhouette of her mother raising her arms “up and down, up and down, up and down…” Hannah often questioned the audience, ‘Is that wrong?’… ‘No?’…’Good’. By questioning each and everything account she told, there was a desperate attempt to justify even the darkest of dreams of carving out the sky with long pointy nails. The contrast between the story and the story teller is immeasurable; the imagery of uncomfortable and unsettling childhood accounts and traumatic dreams are told by a collected and composed narrator.
The nervous tension intermittently jolted the artist with a paralysing jolt as her trembles awoke the bells tied to her. The close of the performance, in many way symbolised the peak of the performance as Alice turned away from the audience revealing a decadent display of bells tied silently to her back, tentatively ready to explode into a mass of sound. Given the silence, the atmosphere and Hannah’s vacant stare – the bells felt like the bomb waiting to detonate.
Alessandro Marzotto stood infront of the audience wearing an overgrown jacket with a rabbit mask. His piercing stare sliced above the audience’s heads as the spotlight shone harshly on his face. Without a musical cue, Alessandro began to dance with expressive gestures as he began a performance set to identify the lies we tell ourselves in order to conceal our true identity.
Suddenly a short snippet of classical music composed by Vivaldi made Alessandro strip off the jacket and the bunny ears to reveal a regal military jacket. As a soldier, Alessandro’s carefully constructed choreography adopted the persona of a fighter standing triumphant at a march, Alessandro points two fingers at an imaginary enemy, like a man risking life and limb fighting for his country. Vivaldi continued to intercept and Alessandro removed his jacket – at which point the dance feels daring as Alessandro challenges the viewer. Don’t forget the whole performance is silent, just the sounds of gasps, footfall and the thud of Alessandro’s sudden movements across the floor.
The performance was gripping and confronting, one man could assume the identity of over 7 different people by his clothes, movement and personality which he could switch at the drop of a hat, or in this case, the drop of bunny ears. The transformations hinted at the various faces we put on within various social situations and identified our personalities as mouldable and evolving entities.
Both Rabbit and With Force & Noise escalated the feeling of tension and made me feel aware of myself a member of the audience, Jo Hellier’s Flood Plans video and sound installation was no exception to this. Flood Plan’s explores the lifespan of a river, as Jo probes the theme of the environment as a point of investigation in her work.
The video footage was from the Brecon Beacons river which captured the rushing of water and currents distorted by a mesmerising kaleidoscope effect. The sound of muffled water echoed in my mind and reminded me of the sounds of going underwater in the sea. I was fooled temporarily by the sound and sight of the sea. Tension was built by the increasingly loud volume of the currents, the musical score came together towards the end as the volume became so loud it just felt like noise taking over my mind. The evolution of nature in 2015 is equally as explosive as stories of tsunami’s, flood warnings, storms and earthquakes continue threaten humanity across the world on a regular basis.
The SOLO Contemporary Forum curated a stunning selection of tenacious artist’s whose pieces leave you both instantly speechless but also reflecting on the performance hours after the applause has subsided. Keep an eye out for more events from SOLO because if it’s anything like this one, you won’t want to miss out.
Alessandro Marzotto ‘Rabbit’
Hannah Sullivan ‘With Force & Noise’
Jo Hellier ‘Flood Planes’
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The Trinity Centre is a fantastic hub of art, music and community action.