Artists: Jodie Rowe and Eugenie Arrowsmith
Reviewer: James Napleton
A one-night performance art show, Performancegate takes its audience into the strange realms of conceptual performance and returns them a little blustered.
The show is broken up into two parts. The first section is an autobiographical performance where Eugenie goes through an old suitcase full with some of her grandmothers’ possessions. She goes through each item individually, showing them to the audience, and describing her connections and associations of each object, with a candid and occasionally dry tone. There is a sort of tranquil bliss to the steady unpacking of objects, which can be suddenly interrupted by abstract episodes of the artist walking around the room standing in the corner and shouting or muttering something. Running to around 30 minutes the piece is a satisfactory exercise in preservation, in the recording and cataloguing of a life and a trip through nostalgic memories.
The second piece follows after a 20-minute interlude, and this one is dramatically more abstract from its beginning. A loud loop plays of seemingly white noise, what sounds like a cat’s purr and a racing car squeezed together. In the background a film plays of a woman cleaning a bathroom. This piece is called Brexit Means Hoovering, where clips of different political speeches from Boris Johnson to Nick Clegg are played. These are short clips played over and over with each politician or commentator mentioning cleaning in some sense. Both the recordings and speeches then stop and Jodie begins to attack one of the vacuum cleaners with a hammer, and the final 15 minutes sees her proceed to utterly destroy not one, but both of the household appliances.
This is a unique show, with the artistic performances if not something to be enjoyed then at least something to be experienced first-hand. There is a certain quality to the second performance that tapped into the rich vein of avant-garde theatre, the idea of having the audience at your mercy and thus having the ability to perform for them something provocative and strange. However, the simple and longwinded act of destruction does not seem to fulfill this artistic sentiment. Despite the several pages of supportive literature the ambitions of both performances seemed distant and ineffective. Overall the performance is curious and interesting, but little more.
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