|Martin del Amo with Gail Priest, Under Attack|
photo Heidrun Löhr
Under Attack is a show of half-finished explanations and associated demonstrations. Del Amo traverses the stage in a white suit, occasionally breaking out into sudden cartoonish bursts of movement before hesitantly addressing the audience. Each time he speaks to the auditorium it’s to tell an unfinished story of a body somehow incomplete: Jacob’s biblical wrestling match with an angel (which del Amo later links to Paul Virilio’s theory that Jacob was wrestling himself); a forensic report on a post-mortem; the tale of a dancer employed to provide the movements for an animated dragon via a motion-capture session. These are incomplete bodies either in the literal sense (delivering the forensic report, del Amo intones a list of body parts that were “not identified”) or because they exist tethered to some other consideration...as in the case of the dancer who—we are told—“couldn’t get a job” because her movements too closely resembled that of the cartoon dragon she’d created.
Del Amo illustrates each of these tales, sometimes directly, sometimes obliquely. He interacts with Priest’s sound score of loops and screeches which at first mirrors the broader, animation-like aspects of his movement and dress, with heartbeat organic tones and swooping snatches of treated violin; before shifting into electronic distortions as del Amo sheds his clothes and becomes more human in dimension, less reflective and angular. The looped nature of the soundscape also helps to emphasise another important aspect of Under Attack in that the samples’ fixed parameters strengthen the perception that del Amo is always performing within a ‘box.’ In one sense this is the literal box of the theatre (where he paces back and forth like a worried, frazzled tiger in a cage) but more importantly, it is the box of human dimensions, Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Del Amo’s body is constantly pushing at the edges of this frame, slapping and prodding at its limits, jumping into the air repeatedly and obsessively in an attempt to defeat gravity. At one point he performs what can only be described as the dance of a man trying to escape his own hips.
|Miguel Pereira, Top 10 Bristol|
The structure of the Top Ten [Bristol] is focussed on a nameless pop star created by Pereira over the course of performances dating from 2000. It seems this persona has come to a natural conclusion and tonight he’s killing the character off, enlisting the aid of 10 collaborators from Portugal and the UK. Each has choreographed an ‘exit’ for the protagonist, most of which are in keeping with the overblown, karaoke milieu the pop star has so far inhabited. A contrast to this tatty bombast is provided by the collaborators themselves, appearing as talking heads on projections displayed between ‘deaths.’ These are personal, semi-confessional reflections upon mortality and make a strange emotional see-saw of the evening.
Sometimes the enactment of a pantomime death following these vignettes sits uncomfortably alongside the sensitive issues upon which the speakers ruminate.
And so the star dies, over and over again: shot by his father like Marvin Gaye; suffering a heart attack during a bad stand-up comedy set; stabbed with a poisoned umbrella by an anthropomorphic street lamp (yes, really.) But it’s the final, 10th death which reveals most about Pereira’s intentions. In a fit of bodily desire and ineptitude resembling del Amo’s ‘wrestling with himself’ sequence in Under Attack, Pereira rips the rock star apparel from his body to reveal everyday clothing which he then tears apart in a series of unlikely angry twists and spasms about the stage floor. Not content with disposing just of his clothes, he then pulls at his skin uselessly before collapsing in a gasping mess centrestage, the lights fading to black. It’s an obvious reflection by the artist upon his own practice, his own creative impulses in creating and destroying this character. Whilst Under Attack seeks to describe how far a given body can be pushed, Top Ten asks the same questions of a body of work.
Martin del Amo is a Sydney-based dance artist and movement trainer, originally from Germany. He mainly works solo but has also collaborated with numerous artists of various genres and styles both in Europe and Australia.
Miguel Pereria trained in Portugal and has worked with leading choreographers including Francisco Camicho, Vera Mantero and Jerome Bel, has won prizes for his own choreography and teaches in Portugal and London.
Under Attack, Martin del Amo with Gail Priest, Arnolfini, February 2; Top Ten [Bristol, Miguel Pereira, The Cube Cinema, Feb 2
Tim Atack is a musician, performer and writer living and working in Bristol. His band angel tech can be found at www.angeltech.co.uk
© Tim Atack; for permission to reproduce apply to email@example.com