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Victoria Hunt, Copper Promises: Hinemihi Haka Victoria Hunt, Copper Promises: Hinemihi Haka
photo Heidrun Löhr
VICTORIA HUNT’S COPPER PROMISES: HINEMIHI HAKA IS A ‘THEN’ MADE ‘NOW,’ A PAST CONJURED IN A PRESENT THAT WALKS THROUGH PORTALS INTO ONGOINGNESS. IT IS EPISODIC, WITH EACH ACT DETERMINED BY DISTINCTIVE BUT MUTATING LIGHTING STATES THAT ARE BOTH SHARPLY AESTHETIC AND THICKLY ATMOSPHERIC, AND BY AUTOCONVOLUTED SOUND THAT SPEAKS, SHATTERS, RUMBLES, ROARS, GRATES, GRINDS AND TRICKLES.

At the same time Hunt’s body moves amidst light and sound as one of these elementals; sometimes swept along or drawn by light, sometimes tortured by compacted screeches, possessed of sound. But at other times it is her moving body that controls the skies.

Copper Promises: Hinemihi Haka is a condensation of Hunt’s journey back into her Maori ancestry. [Hinemihi is a female ancestor and a ceremonial house connected with Hunt’s cultural heritage. Eds] It is a lament of alienation and a celebration of repatriation. It is a finding, a gathering, a travelling, a wandering and a landing. It is a work built over “a decade of embodied research across three countries…collecting video imagery, recording sound and interviews and making a series of short dance works” (program notes).

So those voices and actions and images that elude specific understanding are still understood: clarity is born of heartfelt and rigorous research, stretching out across continents and generations and coming back to a body. Victoria Hunt’s body as the human centre of Copper Promises becomes a place, reconciling the apparent conundrum of a cultural emphasis on “collectivity” and “community” (program notes) with this very solo work by dancing with ancestors and giving voice to ghosts which hang behind and around Hunt’s fleshy contortions.

There were so many resonant moments: like the dust cloud that seemed at first like smoke but had the shape of a figure, haunting on invitation, or the ghostly bride who pads solemnly soft along an aisle of white, her hair gently steaming. But two crescendos screamed louder than them all.

After another train has rattled past Carriageworks’ Track 8, after the slow lateral stalking of the stage by a nearly invisible body with only half a face, after the ghosts have whispered softly then echoed loudly on top of rumbles that gently shake space, after Hinemihi body has pushed itself into becoming rock, metal and rubber, after this molten non-body has bent, opened, twisted and sunk, Hunt, her skin glistening with sweat, spits gorgeous globules of beautiful saliva into the air and her hands become ‘pois’ (Maori performative devices which are swung by hand. Eds) that flick and twitch into a madness-trapped claustrophobia in a sharp white box of asylum light hanging in a sea of black, until a cloudy sky greyness drifts her and her madness into near invisibility again.

Later. After disappearing into a chasm of nothingness, Hunt’s chin and mouth appear, tattooed and moving. Her mouth and the mouths of the soundtrack speak in strangled distortions that are electronic and ancient, now and then. Hunt is a mask made by light, speaking in tongues with the rhythms of sharpening breath and dog screams, a sonic mountain of intolerable cruelty that hurts with its disturbing and frantic energy. Then, it is gone.

Afterward, it took some time to leave the silences and roars of Copper Promises behind. The past had taken hold of the present, so the world became liminal, a neither here nor there, a then and a now.


Performance Space, Dimension Crossing: Copper Promises: Hinemihi Haka, concept, choreography, dance Victoria Hunt, lighting Clytie Smith, sound James Brown, producer Fiona Winning, Performance Space, Carriageworks, Sydney, May 4-12

RealTime issue #109 June-July 2012 pg. 6

© Pauline Manley; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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