- Really Actually Windy: On Environments, Technologies, and Dividual Performances
The space is cramped, a small chapel-like venue constructed out of white wooden planks. We sit huddled together. Yet the ceilings are high, giving us breathing room, and a Victorian armchair mysteriously rests up there on one of the cross timbers, a seat for angels to look down upon the crowd of fifty or sixty that have gathered for this evening of improvised dance and music. Our venue, I’Klectik Art-Lab, lies hidden under trees to one side of Archbishop’s Park, on the south bank of the Thames across from Westminster Parliament. In the courtyard we notice that artists-in-residence at this Art-Lab also tend to vegetables and flowers that grow in the yard. When the dance and music begin we are beckoned inside and for the next three hours become enveloped in this green social ecology—an environment of very diverse practitioners and international visitors drawn to experimental contemporary art that ranges across all genres and takes place in a working enclave, where members can rent space to develop projects. During intermissions between performances we are asked to go outside and linger in the garden. (See figure 1.) [End Page 633]
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Could we rethink technologies in a different way altogether? Do we hear too much about terror and violence, causing dizziness, vestibular disorders, tinnitus, and hyperacusis? Does this accelerated political “sensationism” (not quite foreseen by Fernando Pessoa’s claim that “ideas are sensations”) make us sick?1 And what is it about listening (the aural) that has obsessed me lately, turning me toward different somatic places of investment in acoustic embodiment, other contingent sites, and away from the recent paradigm of immersive theatre and participatory social works? Are we not listening to other forces of things now—climates, atmospheres, heterotopias? And how does renting space connect to growing vegetables?
The combination of herbs, planting, and performing hints at new hybrid materialities and interrelations. Perhaps the title of this evening of eclectic work, Really Actually Windy, points outside the common parameters of theatre and performance to other assemblages or “confederations,” as Jane Bennett calls them in her book Vibrant Matter. At one point Bennett mentions the strange concatenation of stuff she discovers in a storm drain—a glove, a bottle cap, a dead rat, a smooth stick of wood. . . .2 In this review essay I want to talk about such confederations.
The works I hear at I’Klectik are introduced by (two of the ten) performers themselves, Anita Konarska and Mirei Yazawa. The performers are also curators—a familiar trend in many alternative venues. When Macarena Ortuzar enters to the fine, almost inaudible sounds of Bruno Guastalla’s cello, we are instantly mesmerized by a quality of strength and fragility that she conveys through her slow-moving, contorted postures. We inhale [End Page 634] them as sensations. The tones of fragility also come from Guastalla’s strings—the sinewy mezzo, low-frequency overtones unleashed by bowing at the bridge. Two wooden sticks help Ortuzar to stand upright; they are her crutches and yet they become so many other things: branches of the wind, bones, walking sticks, lightning rods, spines, arrows. They are thin and smooth; one of them later seems attached to her chin, her face resting on it. A Chilean dancer who had worked on Min...