Lilian Steiner and Leah Landau: Bunker

Margherita_Moscardini_Bunkers

1.

It happens not in a bunker but a basement. There is a narrow staircase. The floor is polished concrete. The plumbing is exposed. The walls are bare. At odd intervals you can hear the soft rush of water. There are no windows. But it isn’t a bunker. It’s an exapted interstitial space, an urban cavity appropriated as a gallery. True bunkers stolidly resist appropriation. Indeed, they stolidly resist every function except resistance itself.

2.

Bunker is an experimental assemblage, plugging together two contrasting dance temperaments in order to see what flows. It’s also a depiction – a strange word, but I think it’s the right one – of the way different natural forces work to overtake, breakdown, absorb and ultimately erase human interventions in the natural world.

3.

It begins with Lilian Steiner and a broken breezeblock. Here is a perfomer whose practice speaks directly to the telluric and the tectonic. She stands doubled over but rock-solid in her core on the two halves of the breezeblock. She seems to embody a thousand-year process. When the stone she is holding in her hand finally clunks to the ground, it is as if a slow but relentless force has passed through her: from the ground to the breezeblocks, from her toes, through her body and into the stone. Have we just witnessed, in a slippage of eons, the progress of erosion, the lithic dream? Continue reading “Lilian Steiner and Leah Landau: Bunker”

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Slown, Smallened & Son: This Is What’s Happening

John Brack_The Playground_1959_detail

1.

A spotlight. Three bodies: beige, prone. They begin to vibrate, a self-excitation, each with a hand tucked suggestively beneath the pelvis. Then they begin to explore their small circle of light, like motile bacteria or nervous flatworms, around and over one another. Structure emerges. Layers. The bodies stack vertically, vibrations synchronised. Then from simple to complex, the bodies separating, settling into recognisable postural habits, sitting with legs folded to the side, vibrations diminishing.

What happens next, when we’re all sitting here together, like this, legs folded to the side? Caroline Meaden reaches out to William McBride, touches, comforts. Alice Dixon reaches out to Meaden. Then blackout.

2.

Lights up. Caroline Meaden, a solo figure, downstage right. She suggests listlessness and boredom, her arms swaying and head drooping. Whatever life she has is all in her finger. The index finger. The smartphone finger. The finger controls of the figure. The finger gives Meaden her initiative. Her languid body follows in its wake. She pours herself into the finger. Inevitably, the smartphone finger leads her into voyeurism: watching Alice Dixon and William McBride, upstage left, folded together.

3.

Later, McBride lies on his side facing the wall. Dixon and Meaden are on the other side of the room. They’re together in their own spotlight. They begin to move their hips, slow, as if in roadhouse neon, as if wreathed in cigarette smoke. McBride stirs. Then, the blade of a butterfly knife, he is suddenly upright. He mimes running, then mimes sprinting, straining to get across the stage to where the two women stand watching him, swinging their hips. At last he reaches them. Now what? He doesn’t know what to do. And they don’t know what to do. They all twiddle thumbs, stare into the distance, wait, occasionally whisper, nothing. Continue reading “Slown, Smallened & Son: This Is What’s Happening”