There’s a gap in the circumference of the space, an outside we can feel but can’t see. The sound shifts and external lights reveal undulating, brilliantly green grass rising upwards. Five strange figures teeter downhill, lurch into the space.
We’re at Brink, a Bonemap performance—dance, installation, projection and sound mesh to create an environment of potent imagery and atmospheric experience. Rebecca Youdell and Russell Milledge of the Bonemap intermedia art collective have collaborated with DJ Olive and an eclectic team of performers: Brian Fuata, Su Hayes, Jess Jones, Amanda Le Bon and David Williams.
A shaft of light appears in the distance and we follow. A naked woman sits mutely, a globe of the world for a head. Her globe inclines, begins to bleed from the top axis. Blood runs onto her hands, onto the floor. Her image is projected onto the dark oily walls, a bleeding world/woman in multiple. One long note reverberates around the space.
Another shift in attention: to a woman frocked up in tourist tea towels and turban, her oven mitts outstretched. Balancing atop high heels, she walks unsteadily along a huge industrial chain...a retro cocktail party hostess walking a tightrope that could fell forests. A man in camouflage gear moves erratically, erotically across the space. Switching between languid and jolting vocabularies of movement, he’s simultaneously a tortured contemporary figure and an echo of another era when this site was military infrastructure for another war.
A bizarre messiah, pursued by his followers, climbs over a car, balancing with a long staff as though traversing a river. Is he crossing the River of Lethe? The followers have shed their clothes as though useless memories of a past long gone. A man in a dinner suit lies down in the headlights of the car, he speaks from his prone position, surrounded by the detritus of performance. He keeps on, keeps on talking as the performers move toward him, walk over him, leave him behind talking, talking on.
Two men in a tug-of-war over a shirt are suddenly dwarfed by an extended mirror image outside—2 women in a tug-of-war over a long line of fire in the distance. Spectacular and strangely moving.
These and many other images cross-fade one into another across the space. The audience follows, and becomes part of the action in a joyous pack. Movements repeat, motifs recur. Delicate, vulnerable bodies in landscapes of our making. The permeability twixt inside and out, present and past, fragile and forceful creates a series of powerful currents flowing through the work.
The relationship between the body and the environment is at the heart of Bonemap’s practice. In Brink, they revive a number of images from previous performances made for this and other spaces. While each of the components is strong, the success of this piece lies in the dynamic relationships between the large and small-scale choreographies across space—the movements of performers, audience members, objects, light and image. And the sense of being held by the big sound—stretching time, interrupting action and driving pace.
The performers are a mix of North Queensland dancers, fire artists and theatre-makers and Sydney-based performance makers. Their vocabularies are diverse, but Milledge and Youdell as director and choreographer have capitalised on those differences to build a sense of ensemble that’s both idiosyncratic and impressive. Sometimes I had the overwhelming sense that the punch had been spiked—simultaneously pleasurable and terrifying. The teetering, about-to-fall feeling evoking that physical sensation of being on the brink. Of darkness. Of profound change. Of returning to dust.
Bonemap, Brink, director Russell Milledge, choreographer Rebecca Youdell, sound DJ Olive, Tanks Art Centre, July 15, www.bonemap.com
Fiona Winning is the Artistic Director of Performance Space, Sydney.
RealTime issue #69 Oct-Nov 2005 pg. 8
© Fiona Winning; for permission to reproduce apply to email@example.com