March 20, 2007

Breathing Space

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We jumped in the car and drove down to Bristol on Saturday 10th March, for Breathing Space, a day of what we affectionately call ‘Live Arse’ (Live Art). The event was a co-commission of Arnolfini’s,
which was the venue in Bristol we were headed for. It’s been recently refurbished, and is a great chunk of a building right on the dock side, with lots of very swish (if a little sterile) exhibition spaces. The staff were all very warm, helpful and smiley though, which made up for the clean whiteness of the place.

Here are the shows we caught:

Duncan Speakman – Sounds from Above the Ground
An audio walk around Bristol. In a group of 6 we follow a lone walker, who keeps his back to us, through the streets of the city. He speaks into a microphone, and we all pick up the radio signal on our headphones. Somehow he also mixes in soundscape, and repeats and mixes in live sounds. The story is intruiging, about him standing in the middle of the city and shouting last night, so that physical marks are left for us to find today. It doesn’t really go anywhere though, and to be honest I’m pretty distracted by the sunny weather, and all the artsy markets we’re walking through. I think we must look like a bunch of cyborgs: we’re all wearing earpieces, walking together without ever looking at each other or speaking to each other, and we all happen to be wearing smart suitish jackets.

Until Thursday – It’s a Question of Taste
This sounded a bit dire and totally inscrutable in the blurb on the flyer, but we booked anyway.
It took place in the theatre auditorium, and was actually rather wonderful. Clever, funny, political, silly, it was well performed and well received. It was presented in a lecture style, using a powerpoint presentation of occasional headings and loads of photos (mostly rubbish shots of horrible looking meals). The premise was that the 2 performers were contracted by a restaurant review website to visit New York and Brussels and write reviews on the food they ate there (hence the photos of meals). In actuality, this formed a small part of the show, with more of the emphasis on the pair’s relationship with each other, reflections on their travels, comment on America and its foreign policy, and a description of their visit to Ground Zero (which they both describe as "boring – there was nothing there, not even a candyfloss stall").
It inspired me and Jane to think that we might be able to use some of the material we collected from our Helsinki overground trip to make a show. We’d considered this before, but I hadn’t thought of using it as a jumping off point for making larger observations on ourselves/the countries we travelled through/politics etc.

Grace Surman
This was a video piece, animation. Quite surrealist.

Yara El-Sherbini – Pub Quiz
A themed quiz, with questions about other cultures, ethnic minorities, and their relationship with British culture.
Was a more interesting quiz than the ones I usually play (less about football and 80s one hit wonders), but didn’t seem to have anything particularly ‘performative’ about it. To be fair, we didn’t stay till the end, so maybe we missed something.

A good day overall. We really liked the Arnolfini, and were pleasantly surprised by the work we saw.

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