Monday, 19 March 2018

Slippage - Live Art Review

What: Slippage
When: 18 - 25 March 2018
Where: Main Hall Laneway, North Melbourne Town Hall
Created by: Louise Lavarack


The 2018 Festival of Live Art is basically a giant playground for adults. In particular, around Arts House in North Melbourne, there is a plethora of activities - many of them free - which invite the participant to observe and/or partake in the spirit of exploration, joy, and self-actualisation. Some are deeper and heavier than others, but there are plenty of light ones around which are a good in between snack as you wait for the next main course in your event itinerary. Slippage is one of those snacks.

The concept is quite simple really. A bunch of long, brightly coloured (and very light weight) sticks have been loaded into the goods and services laneway beside the Main Hall of North Melbourne Town Hall. Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to play with these sticks.

Using nothing but gravity and our ingenuity, we find ourselves gradually emboldened to hold a stick, look around, and then make a decision where to place it. Eventually something emerges. Is it a structure? It is art? Perhaps more importantly - will it stay up? Gravity tries its best, but on the first Sunday the wind was strong which turned our brief buildings into ephemeral butterflies before becoming a glorious pile of rubble to puzzle and tease at us once more.

Created by Louise Lavarack, Slippage continues her fascination with the poetic potentials of space and to activate our connection with our world. In this instance, working with collaborators Ellen Davis and Cobie Orger, Lavarack is not just inviting us to create ephemeral moments of joy, play, and interaction - she is also choreographing us.

The sticks are long so you have to reach to create and you have to manouver to avoid knocking people and other things. For short people like me, we have to collaborate with those who are height gifted so suddenly a solo routine becomes a pas de deux. Then someone else is needed to brace and a pas de trois is enacted. Amidst these corps routines ripple other dancers, wending between poles and people to find more batons or get a view from a different angle.

The delicacy of the routine, the reliance on gravity, and the necessary subjection to the wind and other elemental forces make the event an incredibly light and fragile experience. Peripheral awareness becomes a survival skill, delicacy of touch becomes the order of the day. Anything to heavy, too fast, or two flippant breaks everything.

Of course, just like building sandcastles by the sea, the very breaking of these structures is a part of the fun. In the demise of the moment is created the potential for new beginnings, new collaborations, new ideas.

The great thing about Slippage is its simplicity and the fact you can just leave and come back to it whenever. Each time you play there will be new kids in the playground and new ideas to become involved in.  I think about double the number of sticks would have been optimal because then it would be possible to play with colour and form density, but I am quite a fan of the line drawing, and it is the veritable fey nature of the insubstantial that perhaps makes this event work best.

2.5 Stars

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