Reviewer: Steven Ireland
Situated among Manchester’s University buildings, the Contact, dedicates itself to providing a platform for artists who tend to follow less well-trodden paths. And so it welcomes visual artist Rachel Goodyear to create a performance installation incorporating light, dance, music and drawing. She is joined by sound technician Sam Weaver, a double-bassist, and a male and a female dancer.
In a work-in-progress performance lasting roughly an hour, Goodyear presents distortions and shadows; images that come from the edges of dreams. Music is interrupted by random sounds and out-of-tune notesbefore they get looped and become part of the soundtrack itself. The performance foregrounds matters that routinely exist outside of consciousness, in the blind spots. As a series of images and soundscapes, it keeps the interest but lacks a strong central thread to bring them together.
The performance mixes prepared elements with plenty of on-stage experimentation. It’s interesting to be party to the creation of the art, although there are elements that work better than others; and a sense pervades the piece that the artists at times are absorbed in exploring their ideas and the performance is not an end in and of itself. It’s nice to watch the process but it does at times feel unfinished.
The piece begins strongly with an electronic score to which Goodyear adds her own vocal sounds. They are looped into the music, creating an ethereal rhythm. The dancers appear in shadow behind a screen, creating images recalling a mating display. The shadow dancing creates issues with perspective, and the dancers are stronger in two elements in which they dance in front of the screen, instead of behind it. Goodyear manipulates spots of ink on an overhead projector, but it never quite forms into anything tangible or interesting.
The male dancer writhes beneath a sheer black cloth, contorting his body in a reptilian manner as shrieks and animal sounds pulsate with the music. When he departs the female dancer crawls onto the stage, backed by electronic sounds and disturbing strings from the double-bass. She makes particularly effective use of dexterity around her elbows and wrists to create a jittering dance that is part Japanese horror, part malfunctioning android. The two solo dances are the strongest elements of the performance.
The performance ends with Goodyear creating a drawing with two large pieces of charcoal on a large canvas on the floor of the performance space. She is attached to the dancers by two pieces of elastic around her wrists, and it is they who control the charcoal by pulling her hands around the canvas as they move. It’s an interesting representation of an artist being influenced by the unacknowledged elements that exist on the edge of conscious thought. By the end, all three performers have slashes of charcoal over their skin. It would have been interesting to see the same thing with them wearing white rather than black. Overall, as the title suggests, Blindspots leaves behind a sense that there’s something about it that’s not quite been fully revealed.
Reviewed on 24 September 2015 | Image: Contributed