RAIR Experimental, Tympan

Review in Issue 13-3 | Autumn 2001

It is pretty rare to find an honest use of adjectives on a publicity flyer nowadays, but I can honestly confirm that this dance/video cross-form work is indeed as spectacular as it claims. The etymological root of the idea of a show as spectacle comes from the Latin verb specere, 'to look at', and in this durational event the activity of looking and being seen is at the very heart of the work. There are two performers in the piece – dancer Suna Imre improvises for nine hours starting at twelve noon, shifting through a personal movement vocabulary and a personal journey in the space; filmmaker Miles Chalcroft dances his own dance around her, as he videos and records her actions.

Each hour, the footage from the previous section is projected back into the studio, until finally eight projectors beam eight hours of time onto the walls, archiving the piece as part of its very presentation, and collapsing the spatial and temporal distinctions between now and then, here and there. Visiting the piece several times during the day, viewers see Imre caught from every angle, exposed for our contemplation, laid bare before our very eyes. The roughly circular layout of the Forge (the Anvil's studio/cinema space) adds to this panoptical effect, and for a piece named after an organ of hearing the density of seeing and being seen in this event is as dizzying as it is visually beautiful.

As the recorded sounds of the piece layer back over each other, and visual motifs skitter across the projected screens, only the hourly breaks to which Imre treats herself interrupt the strange temporal concertina of the work, and they leave a peculiar absence in the studio as her electronic avatars dance across the walls. It happened that on the day I saw this piece, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band were blowing their brasses in the main house, and many of their audience popped in to see the 'experimental stuff’ in the studio. That so many of them lingered and looked says a lot about the flexibility of those audience demographics we all so rely on, and attests to the burgeoning success of RAIR Experimental, in their mission to introduce contemporary performance to a diverse and different audience.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Jun 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-3
p. 24 - 25