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Review: Experimentica Day #3 & George Barber's Akula Dream @ Chapter Arts Centre

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 18/11/2015 at 03:22
0 comments » - Tagged as Creative Writing, Dance, Festivals, Music, Stage

Experimentica Day #3
Chapter Arts Centre
Friday 6th November 2015

It would prove to be another racy day of experimental proceedings at Chapter. It is now half way through and even will all sorts going on, it's easy to fall into the variety of things.

As before, it was up to the Common Room to start off the day. Rebecca Green and Sian Robinson were sat on a sofa, deep in thought, ready for their show. Alternate allowed the two girls to speak a word or few words and each would take it in turns to develop the sentences, to discover what they internally could not own their own. With music from a movie clip page on YouTube, the piece reminded me of language games you would do as children or in a classroom. The unexpected sways and jolts of the talk cycle often proved funny and thought-provoking.

There appeared to be an interview with Thomas Goddard...only it was with himself. This curious premise would lure us into Media Point. Using random footage on a screen with an interviewer Thomas (not really him), the real Thomas arrived in the space, throwing paper money at the audience. Wearing black sun glasses and filled with a mighty ego, the real Thomas spoke as an artist would today: with displeasure to establishment, the defined self worth in his canon of work and a smug sense of all things.

Text on the screen detailed the interviewer Thomas' real thoughts, masking his spoken words, in a way Piers Morgan tends to do. Shaking the hands of every person in the room as he left, little impact from the piece was felt. The work would fit better in Cinema 2 (it was scheduled in there for Sunday) as Media Point, though perfect for Sarah Duffy the next before, was an uninteresting space for this.

On display for over a month now is Akula Dream by George Barber in the gallery at Chapter. His video works is various and eye bulging. Every time I used the toilets upstairs, I heard screaming. Thinking I was going mad, it was only until I sprang into the gallery did I realise it was in fact one of Barber's films.

In Shouting Matches, he has filmed participants in London, Tel Aviv, Bangalore and New Orleans. Each is seated on sliding planks and every time they shout at the person in front of them, they are propelled forward. Entering the small room to witness the four videos at the same time was an assault on the sense (mostly the ears), but it displays the power one has whilst angry and the retaliation of the other party in their own anger and rebellion.

Other video work is hit and miss. The Freestone Drone, is an odd piece about a drone with a conscience, who is fully aware of his bombings and the consequences to go with it. This drone would observe the washings lines of his victims, if full and with children's clothes he would move on, but if it appears to be just one person, it then becomes justifiable. The entrance and space around this films is covered with clothes hanging on lines. The drones final choice is to ignore orders and crash into a building a la 9/11.

The Very, Very End is a testimony in coping with the apocalypse on holiday. With his use of mixing adverts and other media, it's an appearance like many other contemporary artist, yet still with a distinct, vibrant flair. Akula Dream, is a trippy endeavour into the sea, as Russian sailors deal with mutiny and rationality. Rose petals feature heavily as the submarine has several American Beauty fantasies as Rachmaninov's Paganini Variations blasts out (billed wrongly in the credits as his 2nd Piano Concerto). The work needed headphones like the other film work. I didn't have much time to see Fences Make Sense, but shall endeavour to watch it again.

Poster Boy was all set up in the Caffi Bar, with large displays of dog drawings, or as I told a friend "the woof woofs". Kathryn Ashill is inspired by valour in popular culture, mostly Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights as a statement of masculinity. She arrived with her gang of men into the caffi, singing Adam Ant and all dancing in stiff, repeated poses. Though her passion was very much expressed through the words, the short piece lacked expected substance.

Anthropologies Imaginaires was next on the list, as Gabriel Dharmoo surprised everyone with his vocal gymnastics. A sort of spoof study of folk music from around the world, I was for the most part fooled into thinking this was "truth". Making sounds like a Luciano Berio piece, Donald Duck, beat boxing or boarding on a male soprano, Dharmoo was a singing sensation, as "academics" spoke in French of each culture's musical forms (the addition of a tribe singing 12 tone music was brilliant).

In ending the third day was Uro, displayed on the festival brochure. Anna Natt specialises in flamenco dancing and here has created a powerful statement about bullfighting. Becoming both man and bull, Natt uses expressive and deconstructed movements, giving both entities chances to justify and contradict the sport. At one point, arriving onstage in the toreador costume and stomping in loud shoes, this was the bullfighter as his most determined and proud. Her legs become their own animal, quivering like a bull and her buttocks on screen, gyrating many times. Her salivating and extended shaking off the bull fighter costume on the floor, captured animalistic movement very well. The footage of skin being pierced by needles, represented the multicoloured spears that penetrate the bull so often during the fight was not for the squeamish. As a whole: hard to watch, but also captivating.

The truth is emerging...


  • Alternate: 4 stars
  • An Interview With...: 2 stars
  • Poster Boy: 3 stars
  • Anthropologies Imaginaires: 4 stars
  • Uro: 4 stars
  • Akula Dream: 4 stars

George Barber's Akula Dream continues at the Chapter Gallery till Sunday, 10th January 2016.

James' experimental short film, Ogive will premier at Chapter Movie Maker on Monday 7th December 2015

Related Articles:

Our Cardiff Events Calendar

Article: Review: Experimentica Day #1 @ Chapter Arts Centre

Article: Review: Experimentica Day #2 @ Chapter Arts Centre

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