The new work includes “spoken and musical elements that looks at the abstracting tendencies of contemporary high finance” and is the final commission of 2017. Exploring an imaginary where “money no longer bears any relation to the production of useful goods or services,” the work also includes a doom metal cover of ABBA’s Money Money Money by London-based band Henge.
Alice Theobald is presenting solo exhibition The Next Step at Leicester’s Two Queens, opening October 7 running through November 19.
The press release includes a short script between a dog, a baby, and two men identified as ‘MAN A’ and ‘MAN B’. The four of them discuss feelings of abandonment and alienation. The title of the exhibition is taken from a new 3D film work produced for the show and centres around a “seemingly aimless sprawling conversation about relationships, aspirations and life decisions as a baby and a dog advance towards the audience”.
The conversation plays with language and image as Theobald explores “conflicted feelings about societal conventions, the repeated cycle of human existence” and the ways that “received wisdom about life, love, death, freedom and personal growth feed back into daily life through depictions in film, television and music”.
Theobald typically works using live performance, video and installation to explore the parallels between stage and life and the discrepancy between expression, appearance and feeling. She often works with a cast of non-professional actors and switches between the role of stage director, choreographer, narrator and performer.
The screening by the London-based artists will consist of “mixing artist films, snippets of TV, interjections from YouTube, and conversations exploring domesticity, conventionalism, aspiration and the absurdity of performance of the everyday”. Theobald will explore different characters and voices using 3D video and incorporate footage of local toddlers and dogs. While Olabarrieta will test ideas around how video can take a role within live performance.
The screening is part of Primary’s Back-to-front-spaceprogramme, a series of short residencies that “encourage artists to experiment with different ways of working –either testing out a speculative idea, or developing new collaborations”. Participants are to produce and present work to an audience in any format.
An evening of screenings, performances and short intervals called ‘Bubble Bath’ is on at London’s Assembly Point on May 19.
Organised by artists and frequent collaborators Lea Collet and Marios Stamatis, the event seeks to gather and present videos by a group of artists such as Paul Maheke, Alice Theobald, Cecilia Bengolea & Jeremy Deller, and Anna Zett, that each consider “performativity in relation to identity and production values”.
There will also be videos, performances and shorter (time-based) works featured throughout the evening pitched as ‘intervals’ by artists James Lowne, Richard Müller and Rebecca Loweth (among others) all responding to live by drummer Tassos Mesogitis, according to Collet.
‘Bubble Bath’ is a part of a wider programme called Tableuxthat incorporates several events delivered in relatively quick succession over the month of May.
The show is curated by France-Lise McGurn and Lucy Stein, who will also present work in the space. McGurn and Stein hold practices that share a similar soft and nervous aesthetic touch, which has a swirling energy around the work as much as it does in them.
The London artist joins ‘The Bear Pit‘, a purpose-built installation that operates as both studio and exhibition space, as part of a programme of events, exhibitions and residencies that each last three weeks. They’re curated by various artist-run spaces from around the UK invited to participate and for Theobald’s duration, the curator is Birmingham’s Grand Union.
Drawing from her research on ‘The Theatre of the Absurd’—a term coined by critic Martin Esslin in the 1960s and referencing a style of theatre that was consistent with Albert Camus’ existential view that “the human situation is essentially absurd in its struggle to find purpose and to control its fate”—Theobald will combine her interest in live performance, video, installation and music to explore the division between stage and life.
A recounted ghost story, they write, created a slippage between fiction and reality, a “part-believed, part-ridiculed ripple” that cast a shadow over not only their time at the Cambridge farmhouse but their post-residency work as well.
Leicester’s Two Queens is putting on the group exhibition Too Much which will be running at their gallery space from October 2 to October 25.
Taking up the topic of emotions and expression in the art world and in media at large, Too Much focuses in on the “emotive and affective properties of artistic expression”, featuring contemporary practices that work to respond to emotional stimuli, “replac[ing] cynicism, disillusion and apathy with rage, fear and love”. Based out of the gallery’s re-launch of Leicester’s collection of German Expressionist art, the exhibition aims to explore how the internet – and media or technology at large – has transformed how artists express themselves.
Everyone shows up on a bus from London – all genteel with takeout coffees and good manners, though they say it’s a different story at midnight when the party bus leaves Wysing Space-Time Festival for the city. The sun’s out, which is perfect and fortunate, and the setting’s idyllic: a proper modern-architectural art space in the middle of the Cambridge countryside. The program starts on the dot of 12 and I miss the first band because I’m sitting on a grass verge squinting in the sun and eating plums that fell out of a tree. It’s surreal and beautiful, and the various sculptural artworks scattered around the wooded space add to the sense of otherworldliness: a good level. People seem in the mood to get receptive – cider before lunch and avant-garde art feelings.
I make it on time for Ravioli Me Away, whose theatrical costumes, post-ironic 3D estate agent porn and smoke machine camp make me think I’m in for some knowingly artsy music hall moment until they start playing. They’re hard. And tight. And funny, and angry – though I can’t hear the lyrics very well, but what I make out sounds like pissed-off parafeminism with a dose of fuckit-whatever. Smashing out a hard beat on the tom and snare, Sian Dorrer – dressed in a silver hentai jumpsuit – can really sing, and does, all while holding down the rhythm with such a fierce energy it’s impossible to stay unmoved. Alice Theobald, a performance artist in her own right, is on the keyboard synth and second vocal, sardonically intoning half-spoken ripostes that provide a sort of affective texture to the narrative of the beat. Rosie Ridgway smacks out throbbing basslines like a frenetic punctuation of glottal stops, simultaneously soft and hard and round at the edges. Dance? I nearly died.
The day is blurred in places and the program was more or less constant, even relentless; if you wanted you could spend the whole day immersed in music of various kinds, but I didn’t have the stamina. There was Yola Fatoush – ostensibly an electroclash band of the post-punk persuasion, but perhaps also an alter-ego or some kind of performance art hologram? I’m confused by the Ken Burns effect photo experience playing in the background, which looks like a pretty white girl running around some late-summer idyll in a nightie thing and you can see her bum. Two people on stage walk around in printed t-shirts and one of them sings in a mic. It was okay.
Lucy Railton sat alone in a colored spotlight with a cello and some kind of mixing device while the audience, who started out standing, sank literally to their knees, one by one. A low bow across a single note and the sound was starkly eloquent; it seemed to go on and on. One didn’t watch this performance so much as feel it; there were many closed eyes and bowed heads in the room, among them, eventually, mine. The silence in between, a sound like thunder.
Elsewhere, in an art work reimagined as a tiny wooden theatre in the round, Sue Tompkins, best known for her stint in Life Without Buildings but now an artist working mainly in textual forms, performed a set-length poem, if poem is the right word. Her words were so juicy in her mouth that we all ate them up, kids in the front row and all, as she jumped around the stage like a child. It was an extraordinary performance, verging on the mediumistic – utterly affected and entirely authentic at once, like a religious rite.
Later on, Hannah Sawtell’s performance was an immersive and disorientating experience. Lit only by a powerful strobe light, she filled the room with dark synths and distorted drum hits, layering harsh waveforms to staggering effect. At times it was a dense attack on the senses, the sharp highs cutting through the rolling bass sequences. The modulators seemed to be running at multiples of the tempo of the strobe, making the performance encompassing and physical. As it ended after a brutal 30 minutes, one staff member muttered “thank fuck”. Long after the performance I was still mentally emerging from the experience – the outside world seemed to move with more fluidity, and to be a little quieter.
Later still, there was Nik Colk Void, who has been making noise in different forms for a while now (certain nerds might remember her from KaitO), but is possibly best known for being one third of Factory Floor. For the past few years she’s also been working with Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti of Throbbing Gristle to form Carter Tutti Void, as well as putting out solo releases. Her type of electronic industrialism, infiltrated by techno and ambient, set the evening’s dancers into motion. It was a hard driving set, minimal and effective, punctuated by moments of thundering noise. In front of a degraded video loop of an electric guitar she played her own, bowing the thing to add texture to an already robust sound. Some of the noise textures felt physically painful so close to the speaker. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I left before the night bus, and before Holly Herndon, whose cerebral, sensual soundscapes I was sad to miss. An all-female lineup in a festival subtitled The Future feels like a bold and necessary move right now, and the whole day was infused with this spirit of engagement and experimentation, subverting the hedonic festival spirit in all the right ways. **