Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sex, Death and a Cup of Tea

The Tasmanian Theatre Company
The Backspace
2-25 September

By Anica Boulanger-Mashberg

This program comprises Sue Smith’s The Seagull, Debra Oswald’s Bull Kelp, Adam Grossetti’s Sex, Death and Fly Fishing and Finegan Kruckemeyer’s The Exceptional Beauty of the First and the Last. The playwrights were commissioned for a week’s residence in remote Tasmanian towns, producing four plays describing (sometimes circumscribing) place as a way of framing narrative.

Monday, September 6, 2010

KP11: producing communities

The Academy Gallery at the School of Visual and Performing Arts is currently host to four outstanding exhibitions, one of which is KP11: producing communities. There is diversity here in both medium and message.
KP11 is deals with the cultural hearts beating within communities across mainland Australia. The work (some of which dates back to the inception of the project in 2007) has been realised by 11 Australian art and cultural development organisations.

Each of the pieces in this exhibition are as unique as the communities they came from; however, this isn’t a tourism showcase. The art has been developed to complement the work being done by the organisations themselves, developing artistic cultural exchanges. Evident in every community are the challenges facing the people who are creating it. The exhibition encompasses social issues surrounding youth, the elderly, disability, life, death and ethnic background – to name but a few.

A Map of a Dream of the Future

Imagine how climate change will affect our life eighty years in the future. What will happen? How will we deal with it?

In fact, the question needs to be asked, can we deal with it? Eighty years from now will see the issues being tackled by another generation. It is the children of today who will build upon ideas and formulate solutions to ensure our survival through a changing world. Having said that, how do our children feel about climate change?

A Map of a Dream of the Future will give you the answer.

In an incredibly immersive experience, artist Nicolas Low with the University of Tasmania’s School of Environment and Geography’s Associate Professor Elaine Stratford have brought together a contemporary art installation that represents data collected from one hundred Tasmanian students from grades five and six. The students were provided with an education kit and then given the opportunity to respond to questions about climate change.

Data of any kind can have a stigma attached: we expect dots on a page or numbers on a chart. The beautiful thing about this data is that it is represented in the form of a three-dimensional living graph suspended in space. A hanging garden made entirely from Tasmanian native species that accurately pinpoints the thinking of each individual child. Even the plants themselves have been specifically chosen based on their resilience and then assigned accordingly to the respective data.

As I moved through the dimly light space, treading carefully across the axis, it became clear how many of our children are optimistic, how many are pessimistic, how many will rely on technology and how many feel that the solutions lay in a return to nature.

Powerful, beautiful, surreal and factual.

A must-see.


Settling myself down on the pavement in the middle of Charles Street is not something I would normally do on a Friday afternoon but I felt I had a valid excuse. And so did the crowd gathering around me. We were there for Pane.
The large shopfront windows of established retailer Jessups Retravison became host to a delightful yet surprisingly complex performance. Set against the huge fifties-era photographic backdrops of Nicole Robson, seven middle-aged women began the first cycle of dance choreographed by Glen Murray.

What is so interesting about
Pane is that this is essentially a two part performance; one show during the day and one during the evening. Though catching one or the other will not lessen the experience, Pane addresses a different perception with both. During the day, reflection is everything. The onlooking crowd become aware of their own voyeurism through the transparent mirror of glass. The dancers move behind and while we can see them, they can see us and we can also see ourselves. Without being directly an interactive experience the audience are collaborators in this performance and add to the complexity of the piece. At one point I was looking at the reflection of myself when a shift in light allowed the dancer more illumination and she came to the fore. A look of agony trapped on a female face was superimposed over mine.

Expressions of pain, joy, and at times playfulness are all evident as the dancers move skilfully throughout their routine. A return to the evening performance will see the same thing, however the internal lighting and atmosphere - not to mention the stunning backdrops and costumes - become more apparent and the true sense of entrapment in a suburban domestic lifestyle resonates with music and movement. This piece disguises itself in an era, yet I feel the underlying emotions are still very present in contemporary times.

The shopfront provides the aspect of looking in. However this isn’t perhaps the idyllic lifestyle that one would normally associate with the marketing used by shopfront displays.
Pane is a clever, beautifully performed piece and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Both times!