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Inbetween Time 2006

february 1-5 2006

 Da Contents H2

February 3 2006
Duncan Speakman: Echo Location

Gob Squad: Managing fear
Winnie Love

Gob Squad: What does it mean to be a Vampire?
Niki Russell at the Gob Squad lecture

John Gillies: A Geography of Longing and Belonging
Marie-Anne Mancio

John Gillies: Old land, new testament
Ruth Holdsworth

Rosie Dennis: One from the heart
Winnie Love in the Rosie Dennis loop

Uninvited Guests: The art of wounding
Marie-Anne Mancio faces up to Univited Guests

February 2 2006
AC Dickson: Rising up to the challenge of his rivals
Niki Russell on eBay selling as performance

Bodies in Flight: And the word was made flesh

Carolyn Wright: Conversational miscues
When Winnie Love met Carolyn Wright

Carolyn Wright: Pleased to meet you, again
Niki Russell

David Weber-Krebs: Beyond waiting
Winnie Love

David Weber-Krebs: More than it says it is…
Ruth Holdsworth

David Weber-Krebs: Risk realised
Virginia Baxter


Del Amo and Pereira: Working bodies

Tim Atack

Tim Atack is a musician, performer and writer living and working in Bristol. His band angel tech can be found at

Martin del Amo with Gail Priest, Under Attack Martin del Amo with Gail Priest, Under Attack
photo Heidrun Löhr
At first glance there are few similarities or points of connection between Martin del Amo and Gail Priest’s Under Attack and Miguel Pereira’s Top Ten [Bristol]. Each work focuses on its principal performer, and both are by artists working primarily in the field of movement. Superficially, the differences in construction could not be more marked: del Amo and Priest’s presentation is largely controlled, contained, rigorously choreographed and executed; Pereira’s, on the other hand, is a splurge of messy entrances, furious costume changes and technical glitches. But beneath the contrasting approaches, both works are concerned with the limits of the body, the distortions imposed upon it, and the stories you can tell about both.

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 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 Miguel Pereira, Top 10 Bristol
The distortions of Under Attack are those of compression, of a body pushed in from all sides, manipulated and squashed like putty, reduced to simple mass. Miguel Pereira’s Top Ten [Bristol] is also distorted, but in the way that distorted guitars operate within pop music: to give the impression that the content is simply far too big for the envelope. Pereira’s world is one where egos are all encompassing, but trousers tend to fall down. It’s a world where guns are deadly but have a habit of not working, where follow spots are blinding but...well...tend not to follow with much aplomb. It’s a universe held together with safety pins and gaffer tape, at constant risk of falling apart or falling offstage. The performance is chaotic, slapdash, even amateurish—but exactly how intentional this might be is largely a moot point. A central concern of the work is that Pereira wishes to address the notions of authorship: to a degree, he doesn’t want to be in complete control.

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

© Tim Atack; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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