Five relatively hairless men in tights. A man in a black hoody dancing the dance I imagine when someone says, "dancing". A smoke machine. A sleazy not-quite-loud-enough soundtrack. Simon Vincenzi's Luxuriant kept me at a distance and shoved me around (quite literally) at the same time. This was the kind of performance I imagine that a non-performer friend dreads that I will take them to if I invite them to a show. The way in to the piece was through the door and that was it. A woman on stage moved back and forth making sounds that were amplified. I wondered, again, about the difference between liking something because of what it does, or liking it because of what it is. I came to the conclusion that we always like things because of what they do, that this is how we learn what things are – through their effects. I spent as much time looking at the rest of the audience as I did looking at the performers and I spent just as much time trying to decide where to place myself in the space. Luxuriant was as much about my experience as it was about that of the performers but I got the sense that for them, the experience was much more profound and perhaps somewhat liberating: was I there to bear witness?
A utopian dystopia. Flyers strewn about too flat and too shiny to concede with the timelessness of the scene, bags of rubbish too plump and unsmelling, a working desk littered with Costa coffee cups and a bottle of something fizzy and other things to make a mess that looked a little too contrived – or am I just being unnecessarily cynical? – a hooded but trouser-less man loitering around the edges of the stage, in the alcove of a fire exit, his cock wrapped in god-knows-what that I couldn't make out between the darkness of the space and the darkness of his pubes. Mouths were covered, eyes were covered, heads were covered; people look so much more intense when only the eyes are visible and the brain struggles to create the rest of the face in the imagination. The revealing of things not usually revealed and the masking of things it is customary to have on show hinted at the sordid. The movements were fetishised by their repetition and the keenness of their delivery, as if their performance would transport the performer.
As I wondered around this living poem of flesh and TV screens I thought a lot. I thought about what matters, I thought about ageing, I thought about teenage angst, I thought about the Live Art scene and speaking in the same language, I thought about class and what might contemporary rituals might look like, I thought about the loneliness of watching and the togetherness of doing, I thought about what the security guard at the door (part of the troupe) would have done if he had searched me and found contraband, I thought about the audience becoming the performance; values, inevitable changes, boundaries, the human condition, the impossibility of communication and the law. I was more occupied with these things than with the betighted mouthless man beside me struggling on tiptoes, wrists snapped, fingers splayed, grasping at the man to his other side with his eyes, but maybe he set the perfect scene for my occupation.
See 'Luxuriant' on Saturday 23rd at 8pm at the People's Palace.
The final production of the quartet Operation Infinity – 'King Real Against the Guidelines' will be performed at Toynbee Studios on the 15th and 16th March.