This is definitely NOT the Taste !
Sat night Princess Warf Shed (PW1)
Any ghosts of lingering commercial mundanity or residual chip frying odours were certainly expelled from the Princess Wharf Shed on Saturday night. Once again it became the vessel for what promises to be another series of wild, weird and exhilarating MONA FOMA festival performances over the next 2 weeks .
PURSUIT – a spectacle of sound, speed and light, is the baby of sound artist Robin Fox, composer John Rose, and makers Rod Cooper and Paul Bryant , who have been workshopping with community members all week towards this performance.
The large murmuring crowd swells and mills in the semi darkness, wandering in front of the giant screens or lazing upon hot pink bean bags before the stage decked with what appears to be an array of bicycle / instrument mutants. The skeleton of the shed hangs above like some giant reptilian bird waiting to be released.
A simple request comes from the stage to be silent ….to listen!
And so the ritual begins as the first lone rider moves off around the figure-eight track to loop through the audience, his electronic horn squealing into life like some wild baby creature crying out in the darkness. He is soon followed by another slower rider, its guitar sound more subdued, a small wheel turning to scrape its strings. And then another rider, and another; all bicycles alive with sound- making, looming out of the darkness, slower or faster. Guitars singing, self - playing drums beating, spinning and clunking ; a violin screeches ;a metal kitchen sink clatters past; children’s toys tinkle; balloons burst; chains and metal bars clank and click; garbage can lids become wheels upon wheels to scrape across more strings; human voices moan; a lone bagpiper on a trishaw howls into the night and a rider balances with one hand and plays his trumpet with the other.
The sound moves around you, past you. You can hear it coming over there, and then it’s here, moving through you, as the faces of the riders loom out of the darkness. All are focussed, driving forward to disappear again.
They come singly, in clutches, then whole flocks - their machines are alive, calling to you, to each other, looming, ever circling and its seems that I have stumbled into the migratory path of some surreal mechanical animals, an insane orchestra of bicycle beings.
And all the while on stage, composer John Rose and sound - artist Robin Fox, feed their complex compositions of string, piano and wind into the mix – layering and building the sound scape. Sometimes they twiddle knobs on black boxes or ride their own bicycle instrument contraptions while videos flash and flicker on the giant screens behind. Close-ups of individuals on wheeled instruments mingle with live black and white footage from the bike-camera that speeds around the track, like some 1960s floodlit speedway or Twighlight Zone Tour De France.
After an hour it reduces to the lone bicycle again, the sound of rubber wheels on concrete, and the ritual is complete.
We sit in silence, I’m not really sure what I just experienced and that’s fine.
Thank you Mona Foma, I realise I have been waiting with bated breath since last year , and now I’m breathing in the sheer joy ,lunacy and excitement of it all again.
Great! Still 12 days to go.
Gai Anderson is a writer and performer based near Cygnet.