Saturday, 28 August 2010

I Believe

Red Velvet Curtain Cult is a great initiative founded by lili Spain and Sarah Grainger-Jones. They have curated and performed in live art events in many wonderful locations, Whitechapel Gallery included (see my next blog for a write up of Voyeur which took place in Dec 2009) Earlier this year Robin and I took part in their event I Believe, Tales from the Edge of Everything. We knew we'd be performing at the De La Warr Pavilion the Modernist utopian pleasuredome. The DLWP website says it was: 'Commissioned by the 9th Earl De La Warr in 1935 and designed by architects Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff, the De La Warr Pavilion was the UK‘s first public building built in the Modernist style.' After a traipse through dying town Bexhill, the site provides unexpected euphoria. Once past the unselfconscious charity shops and unconscious winos and care in the community fall out, you are confronted with an overwhelming expanse of sea and sky. The horizon is an anomaly to dried out London eyes. A brief period of aclimatisation and then you are fully ensconsed in the modernist vision.

We started thinking about work and since Rohmer's film I'd been fascinated by the Green Ray, although it was Jules Verne book of the same title that drew us in with his wide eyed tale of a magical green ray that might be seen on the horizon, just after the last moments of the sunset. So it is told, only faithful lovers can see the green ray. This led us to thinking about green lasers and rave culture and then on to Robin's idea that we should read out cut up rave anthem lyrics. In the final performance the insipid pronouncements of belief in Cher's 'Believe' or D:Ream's 'Things Can Only Get Better' are read out by a man and a woman holding green heart balloons.

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air

I know I can count on you

You can walk my path

You can wear my shoes

Cause I've had time to think it through

And maybe I'm too good for you, oh

And there's no turning back

I need time to move on

I need love to feel strong

Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in the air

Things can only get better

Can only get, can only get

We didn't decide which lines we'd read out before, so we were surprised by the story which seemed to develop, then unravel. It was a conversation between a couple, the push pull of belief in the romantic ideal and the sheer domesticity of relationships. It was also a stream of consciousness, the plurality of lovers' speak, the mundane and the indecipherable. It was funny too, we both looked quite a pair, Dadaist Mike Leigh.

This was set against a spectacular backdrop, the architectural drama of the building and our own set up: a green rave laser and a hazer. Even on a small scale the green light was bright and compelling. We created a smoky, enchanted, dense space to speak into, and Robin had made an amazing soundtrack of a distorted trance track, footsteps in a club toilet, toilets flushing.

At the end of the performance we went up onto the roof of the the DLWP and let the balloons go. To me the metallic green balloon is an envious heart and the embodiment of spectacle. Also the child's lost balloon, after a moment of distraction the child lets go. Or it's a gift to the sky, the night and the void, an offering; an allusion to something beyond. But once the balloon has disappeared out of sight, we are left. Sea and sky and magical rays illuminate our lives, but in the end we just have our selves, our corporeality.

There's an interview with me and Robin about the piece in East Magazine

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