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17th October 2013


Matilda Roberts gives her account of live art festival ‘Emergency’.
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Live art is not a genre of art that I can pretend to know anything about. I also cannot deny that I hold some of the negative and common preconceptions often associated with live or performance art. However after reading Jasper Lewellen’s ‘What is Live Art?’ article last week I realised that it was not something that I had ever really given a chance or paid any real attention to.

Last Saturday’s ‘Emergency’ festival, I decided, would be the perfect place to broaden my mind and immerse myself in live art. Held over one day at the ‘art spaces’, Z-arts and Blankspace, this festival describes itself as an ‘eclectic performance lucky-dip’- and that it was. All free, meaning you could dip in and out as you wish, there was no way of knowing what it was you might stumble upon. And besides from Frances-Kay’s ‘Scaffold’ in which the artist lay on scaffold wrapped in bandages and writhed around for 3 hours, there was none of the clichés that are so often associated with this art form.

Zimmermann and Singh in their video and sound collaboration perfectly combined poetic imagery with an amazing soundtrack. Beatboxer and vocal sculptor Singh created the sound using his breath, voice and loop pedals in order to recreate sounds of instruments and nature.

Other pieces I saw included Chloe Smith’s ‘I’ve been dreaming of this…’ in which she retold the story of her time at Occupy St. Pauls while occupying the space she inhabited. At times it was difficult to grasp the point or the relevance of the point that she was making but, on the whole, the piece was interesting and entertaining to observe.

Lucy Hutson’s monologue, ‘Britney Spears custody battle vs…’ drew the biggest laughs of the day. Opening with chat up lines in order to ‘woo’ the crowd while pulling the heads off My Little Ponies™ and ending with getting naked and offering Macdonald’s burgers and Starbucks coffee to the audience, Hutson’s piece appeared to sporadically jump between her thoughts. Making jokes about Megabus, her charity shop aesthetic and lack of concern for factory shop workers, she managed to capture the audience’s attention using her dry irony and strange sense of humour. She was a great example of live art that was accessible, relevant and did not leave the audience feeling that something had just happened that they were meant to ‘get’ but weren’t quite ‘in the know’ enough. I’m already looking forward to Manchester’s next live art festival ‘Domestic’ this November.

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