Fast establishing itself on the web-waves as a bastion of modern theatre writing, online magazine Exeunt is a paper unfriendly publication ready to shake things up. Here, Exeunt editor Daniel B. Yates dishes out his top tips for live performance in London in 2012. Love life. Live live!
Every time you appear somewhere social, like a pin-prick in a vein, performance comes into play. It’s not necessarily a self-conscious thing, a matter of drah-mah, as the best social performance is like inspiration summoned in a well-turned spontaneous pose – a camera flash that illuminates something critical against brickwork and sky, conveying to all present often without words, something crucial to the situation.
Over at Exeunt, we’re always asking in what ways contemporary theatre can be collapsed into performance. That’s why we’re relaunching our performance section in the near future, trying to capture what is at the heart of those pin-prick interactions, those moments of performative comment and disjuncture in our lives. When the walk of shame crosses the early trek of city cleaners. When the abject drunk guy on the tube trips over the brogues of the pinstripe. The feel of the protestors bare skin against the perspex riot shield. When your mascara is smeared down your cheek as your head hits cold tiles. When we collapse together into pillows. If it doesn’t speak to life it should remain silent. And so, dotted around the lit frontages and back lots of our cities, in theatres and galleries, pop-up spaces and bars, you can find performance events. Unexpected crystalline moments of art that can bore you senseless or literally change your life. Ideally for a round-up for the best of performance in 2012 we’d choose the whole city as we find it, all corners and all moments. But for the sake of specificity, here are some things to look out for over the coming year.
1. Tim Etchells: Live: In Silence
Etchells, along with his collective Forced Entertainment!, is an artist who has come to be synonymous with performance scene of the last decade. One of those unreasonable guys, that seeks to bend the scene to his own ideas, his upcoming event at Whitechapel Gallery will be coordinated discussions about the theme of silence with priests, scientists, and stand-ups. A sort of Club Silencio as salon. Because silence has a meaning too.
There are a number of venues that will be key next year. Having outbid Damien Hirst for a Palladian villa, The Serpentine is due to open its new Serpentine Sackler Gallery in 2012. Led by Director, Julia Peyton-Jones and Co-Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, design, fashion and film will collide with performance and technology for multiform magic and hybrid skill. Hackney Wick’s ark-like pop-up theatre The Yard is due to return, while Chelsea Theatre will be reinvigorating its Live Art programme. In addition, the B.A.C’s peeling civic jewel of a building in Clapham will be redeveloped, taking their renowned “scratch” approach this time to the architectural fabric of the building, in order to create some kind of 22nd century total performance environment with oaken panels.
3. The Olympiad
So while the Olympics itself might arguably be sucking this country’s already depleted cash reserves into a vortex of spandex and arcane equestrian saddle-tech – its cultural cousin The Olympiad is throwing up some interesting stuff. Chief amongst them a re-run of the late great choreographer Pina Bausch’s World Cities cycle from her company Tanztheatre Wupperthal, who continue to make stark, grimy, transcendent bodies-in-cities dance. The German artist Tino Seghal, who always wanted to “dance into the art academy”, will be moving into the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern for his art without objects – art which happens purely between people. That or the nine man cross-country badminton slalom, your choice.
Eat Your Heart Out are a London-based collective which mix glitter and drug-casualty surrealism with sharp politics. 2011 was an excellent year for them, their dark piece Violence beating anything else produced on the febrile contingencies of the riots. The collective’s artistic director Scottee (longtime i-D friend and sitter for Nick Knight’s epic portrait shoot in last year’s The 30th Birthday Issue) is also worth keeping tabs on as he develops his conception of “light art”, fusing pop-trash with critical engagement in post-post-modern austerity.
As acts undertaken live in space, performance routinely offers experiences that re-translate objects and screen-time. Fleur Elise Noble is sure to be a big player next year, with her piece “2 Dimensional Life of Her” premiering in London in January. Her work focuses on introversions of linearity, taking giant interactive screen fields and peeling them back, revealing their limitations with visual poetry, puppetry, and paper. Also in this vein look out for Coney, “an agency of adventure and play” whose digi-flesh line of live gaming and apps continue to point a nose into the live future.
Text: Daniel B. Yates