Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Forever the Motion

Kirin J. Callinan

Robyn Wilson

one helluva slinky

I first read the press release for Forever the Motion (held Sun night at the Black and Blue Gallery in Redfern) a couple of weeks ago and I’ll admit that I was a little skeptical. “An audio visual collaborative collision” was the tagline (padded out by some awfully nefarious sounding creative waffle), and I suspected that the show just may well be a lot of exquisitely packaged wank. Happily, I was proved to be a doubting Thomas.

Masterminded by Robyn Wilson, performance artist and director of creative studio View of Courage, Forever the Motion was more of an encounter for the audience than a show. The third floor warehouse gallery is a raw, intimate space (at capacity it holds just over 100 punters) and was, in itself, a part of the experience. High ceilings with open beams, clean walls, littered floor, random installation pieces (such as the collapsed yellow human-sized slinky in the hallway) and the resident cat taking a nap in the towel rack in the bathroom; to step into the gallery is to enter a curious world where the bizarre sits side by side with the ordinary in the most natural way (a natty foreshadowing of the performances to come).

First cab off the rank was Morning Stalker, a trio of musos wearing yellow rain ponchos and white masks. The visual was verging on comical at first (I’m guessing that wasn’t intended), but as the music began and images of rain on a foggy night and wraiths exploring the underworld were called forth, it was all eeriness. A crescendo of mournful, wailing vocals and noise brought the set to a close and, as every good warm up act ought, left the audience with its senses awakened and appetite whetted.

Probably better known as a member of Sydney indie-too-cool-for-school bands Mercy Arms, (now defunct apparently) and Fashion Launches Rocket Launches, Kirin J. Callinan was the second and, to my mind, the standout act. There those who, with their half-baked, contrived performances, fuel the popular misconception that “performance art” is the sport of lazy buggers and intellectual wankers - Callinan is not one them. His stunning musicianship is undeniable, his voice gnawing, soaring and poignant; he embodies some fantastical character as he two steps across the stage one moment and throws himself on his guitar with a violent spasm of noise the next. Perhaps what is most remarkable about Callinan as a performer is that he takes the odd, the utterly bizarre, and presents it with such ease and assuredness that one cannot help but find it all quite normal. A mystical, winged being singing of a teenage joyride; howling, writhing, attacking, and then breaking for some humorous banter with the audience; at once astonishing, delightful, accomplished and original.

And then finally Robyn Wilson. She doesn’t walk; she sways, she floats, and her eyelashes bat gently as if she’s allowing you insights into her soul one lingering glimpse at a time. In this fashion Wilson took to the stage to sweep us into her kaleidoscopic orbit, an audiovisual collision of shapes and patterns, whispers and wails, noise and harmony. Beset from early in the piece by technical difficulties, the performance fell short of conjuring the wonderment that it probably deserved, and it is to Wilson’s credit that she handled the interruptions with grace and composure. Technical issues aside, the audience was privy to beautifully crafted moments in time, each one unique, delicious, arresting.

All in all Forever the Motion was a marvelous piece of theatre, an array of sensory delights strung together with ingenuity and panache. A stunning evening - I look forward to the next one (keep tabs on www.viewofcourage.com for future performances).