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Angus Cerini, Chapters from the Pandemic Angus Cerini, Chapters from the Pandemic
photo Marg Horwell
A NAKED ANGUS CERINI LIES PROSTRATE UPON A STAINLESS STEEL TABLE. BODY HAIR REMOVED, GENITALS STRAPPED IN A POLYESTER SACK THAT APPEARS TO MAKE HIS SCROTUM SWELL, CERINI INVOKES A NEUTERED MUTE ABOUT TO PUNCTURE THE WOMB AND UNLEASH HIS APOCALYPTIC PERSONA UPON A RUINED WORLD.

Resembling the bastard son of a thousand maniacs, his elevation from the table is accompanied by twitches and spasms that contrast nicely with the rustic sounds of a farmyard dawn. Beyond Cerini’s shattered form, the remnants of a vast white wall lay strewn across the space. A fissure in the wall opens out into a dark embrace, a cataclysmic world enveloped by eternal darkness. Nuclear winter, the lower cerebral cortex or a perverse vision of a tyrannised chicken staring outward from its recently cracked shell...Who knows? Chapters from the Pandemic invites contemplation. Through it, we come to know a tome that is the hidden recess of the human imagination.

Silent but deadly, Cerini’s paroxysms are heightened by sophisticated strobe lighting and high voltage digital imagery. His body becomes a telematic screen upon which is administered a kinetic impulse intermittently interrupted by a shock of pre-recorded sound. As if punished for daring to conceive of a thing so beastly, a sudden overhead snap releases a hidden trapdoor and down upon Cerini descends the plumage of a thousand debreasted chickens. Yet this could also be a snowstorm on a winter’s noon cast down upon the world in some Icelandic myth, or a snap-frozen, now shattered ocean harboring an inverted King Neptune.

Time passes... Day, night...Who can be sure ? Cerini pumps up the vibrato and emerges dripping wet from a movement riff with sweat illuminating his waxed, jerked-off form. Watching him, finger dancing in his mouth in a ballet miniature, we come to appreciate this creation in much the same way as a person might express great sympathy, yet conceal laughter, when confronted by the creature that might have been if Lynch had not scripted the killing of his mutant offspring in Eraserhead. Like that film, this performance momentarily steps beyond the cabal of its own grandiloquence. Most impressive is its subversion of a popular aesthetic form. Animation can make the fantastic appear actual, but Pandemic’s triumph is that it successfully links the actual with the fantastic, minus animation’s usual cute escapism. And even though Cerini’s persona is named Meatwise, we are never in doubt that Meatwise is anything other than an unsealed incarnation of Angus Cerini on a beguiling, disconcerting ride into the lost highway of his soul.

If there is one quibble about this alluring performance, it is that the theatrics are so refined, its effects so special, its production values so slick, that Cerini’s obsessions never quite slash their way into the poetic imagination. I’m enthralled, yes, but never completely moved.


Chapters from the Pandemic, performer, writer, director Angus Cerini, design Marg Horwell, lighting Rachel Burke, sound Kelly Ryall, video Michael Carmody; 45 Downstairs, Melbourne, Aug 11-19

RealTime issue #81 Oct-Nov 2007 pg. 38

© Tony Reck; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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