Rituals, beauty in extremis, pain and futility weaved their way through day 2 of Spill Festival, oh and there was lots of blood too!
[official Spill TV video which features Amy Kingsmill, Robert Hardaker, Priya Saujani and Kate Spence and Daniel Oliver]
One of the things about festivals is you hardly have time to draw breath before moving from one piece to the next. That’s often exhilarating, but sometimes it can be a little too much. I left Amy Kingsmill’s Journey gob smacked, contemplating both the swan like beauty of her journey, the pain and its ludicrous futility. Why? Why? Why? I wonder into Lauren Jane Williams The boudoir but my thoughts are still with Journey and I have to leave.
The almost voyeuristic nature of futility was also evident in Robert Hardaker’s Plough Your Own Furrow, as Hardaker attempts to stuff a seemingly insurmountable mass of grass into what appears to be some kind of sheet like costume. Watching his efforts is almost painful and I fought the urge to offer assistance.
There was nothing voyeuristic about Project O’s SWAGGA which fair screamed ‘look at me, I’m fat and I’m proud’. Deliberately appropriating traditional erotica, concepts of dance and beauty the show was both an angry howl, and a celebration of FAT. Ready or not, performers Charlotte Cooper and Kay Hyatt, were out to make their audience love them for who they were.
There was a more traditional use of imagery in Priya Saujani and Kate Spence’s Visions a mystical, wordless conversation between the Goddess and the Whore. Quietly, respectfully the whore leads audience members up to the Goddess for a ritualistic blessing. In a way the work explores the similarities between the two ‘icons’ and almost ends with the Goddess launching into a pole dance, where previously the whore had cast long and dramatic shadows on the heg wall. Instead the final image builds on the opening exchange of a garland suggesting (perhaps) the two of them are one and the same.
Much of Spill’s Jerwood supported National Platform (which all these works are part of) was being housed in Ipswich’s recently vacated Police Station. The building reeks of its old use, long corridors lead to rooms like ‘crime management’ or dingy basements, car park sign commemorate former officers, health and safety posters fade quietly on the wall. Several pieces responded to this unique, almost brutal environment. I wish I had had more time to spend with Gorizazmarkaz’s Meridian Rhubarb which evoked both present day and past interrogations. Moving through the audience Tara Fatehi read words inscribed on her flesh, a litany of historical costs for keeping the peace in Suffolk.
More playful (and often utterly hilarious) was Daniel Oliver’s Séance which recreated the day in October 2014 when a mad axe man murdered his audience effectively putting an end to Spill. The police station ball room (yes it has a ballroom) becoming a crime scene. Ten years on the charlatan spiritualist Oliver is here to bring healing and reclaim the space. It’s silly, crude and very funny! As instructed, I spilled out to heaven.
But the image that will haunt me from the day is that of Amy Kingsmill, her white dress revealing her bare back into which are driven steel pins that take the weight of a heavy fence she drags behind her whilst tottering on impossible heels. As the audience leaves she is left bowed but still, the dying swan.
[unless credited as such videos and images are not from spill festival]