IETM held its annual plenary in Glasgow this year from the 4th-7th November. The focus was on performances conceived and executed by Scottish companies, artists and performers. The events were open to both the public and to the IETM delegates which came to Glasgow from various cities around the world. Unfortunately, from my point of view, there seemed to be very little publicity relating to the event – as studying at an art school I would have expected to hear a great deal more about it than I did.
Here's some of the events which stood out...
Parallel Lines - The Arches
Just in case the dark November weather was not enough, Parallel Lines offered its viewers the chance to immerse themselves in a room of darkness and an altogether haunting atmosphere.
On entering this mystical room, one found themselves walking in a maze created by stones which appeared to float above the ground. Strange, you may say but the overall effect was actually very moving. When you first enter the exhibition it was very confusing and hard to know what was going on. But, as you followed the maze slowly around the room things started to become clear. We were actually observing a love story. And a very sad love story to say the least. The tale was about a girl who had suddenly ran away from her boyfriend while in a restaurant and swam out to sea. She was never seen again. As you progress around the maze, certain items relating to the story are placed on the ground, all centered around the image of the sea. Throughout the room, audio from both boyfriend and girlfriend was played which added to the surreal-nature of the experience. The boyfriend, told his tale of loss and sadness while you were able to study the artifacts left by him at one corner of the maze. Whereas, she spoke to us from the future, the year 2030. In her detailed monologue she spoke from the afterlife, about her adventures of life and placed in front of the viewer here were clues to maps of her adventures, as well as pictures and letters from her life. Despite the disperate nature of the story between the couple, the inclusion of strands of the story past and future gave a striking cohesion to the narrative.
As an experience, Parallel Lines was moving, emotional, and one of inspiration. Despite the morbid and depressing subject matter, the audio, objects and atmosphere certainly evoked positive emotion in the observer and allowed one to enter into a private pilgrimage about what it really means to be alive.
Anna Krzystek- Figure This
CCA Jeni Allison
Whilst waiting in the queue for Anna Krzystek's Figure This I was surrounded by what I could only describe as an army of lanyards. It seemed that everyone here was a part of the IETM festival. I felt like a cheat being there, as if somehow this wasn't for me. Not Krystek's fault in the slightest, but the fault of lack of advertising straight to members of the public regarding the festival'. This lack of advertising is a massive shame, as actually the show was really interesting.
Figure This is a lesson in repetition. Krzystek executes a series of movements, then repeats, repeats and repeats. Far from being monotonous you begin to attune yourself to the game, and get lost in the movements. Your mind wanders, but you don't feel guilty, as you've learned what the movements. In this way Figure This acts much like a structuralist film – its a contest of duration, but which we cannot possibly be expected to endure. The audience are frequently brought back by the sound of applause (it's digital), at which Krzystek stands, hand on hip, soaking up the applause and looking accusingly at our (the real audience's) silence. It is brilliantly confrontational, and moare than slightly unnerving.
I have to admit, I am writing my dissertation on Avant-Garde dance, and therefore came to this event forewarned. Repetition in postmodern dance is a learning device, a way to teach the audience the language of the performance (as with dance the movement disappears the moment it is executed). Repetition is therefore a way of saving it. I saw Figure This with my flatmate, who is not doing her dissertation on Avant-Garde dance, and her reaction was less positive than mine. I suppose that perhaps this is a case of being involved in something that you can relate to with foreknowledge of the movement and as such it could be said that such an overly IETM membered audience was no bad thing.
Watch It! – Room2Manoeuvre
CCA Jeni Allison
Watch it! is a sensory overload of dance, video-montage, animation, set and lighting; detailing the love/hate relationship dancer Tony Mills (and by extension the public) has with television. You almost don't know where to look...which is exactly the point. While Mills' body makes sweeping gestures across the stage, a montage of sensationalist television clips play. You do desperately want to watch Mills, but the images of floods, terrorism and girls in short shorts exercising inevitably pulls your attention away. Mill's pleads, “mate?" but our attention is not, and could not be on him. I am reminded of that feeling you get in a pub, when you realise you haven't been listening and instead have been reading the rolling news headlines on the telly. Why is it that we are drawn to inane moving imagery rather than savouring the 'live' (and indeed life) that we have in front of us? Why watch unrelated images flash up on a screen when you've paid to see a dancer? Why leave the house just to watch the TV?
Mills continuously draws on both his breakdance background as well as pedestrian gestures to present work which is both visually stimulating and relatable. At one point he runs, on the spot, while a video projection simulates a (surreal) moving corridor of the inside of a television. Mills is updating a practice that began in the late 1960s, early 1970s when choreographers like Yvonne Rainer began introducing activities like walking and running into their dances. The mix of these 'ordinary' motional actions with video is used to further a narrative, albeit a fantastical one (where a man is inside a television in order to fix it.)
Watch It! Is massively enjoyable, and thought-provoking. It is also one of the few pieces of dance I've seen that has so successfully married dance with technological 'Las-Vegas style' theatricality into something that isn't cheesy. Definitely better than whatever was on the telly.