Theatre – Apactalyptic

Venue: PACT Centre for Emerging Artists, Erskineville
Written By:
Directed By: Cloé Fournier (curator)

PACT held their second Salon for 2018, entitled Apactalyptic, a one-night mini-festival of performance, music and art, examining, exploring and reflecting on the ends of the world. Curated by French-born multi-disciplinary artist, Cloé Fournier, and showcasing early career performance, visual and media artists, the Salon encourages the boldly experimental.

Fournier describes her presentation as “a curious collection” – curious in the sense of strange, unusual, even bizarre – bringing to mind the “cabinet of curiosities” or “wunderkammers” popular in the 16th and 17th century. The cabinets reflected an interest in artifacts from places that were still off the edge of the map, arousing wonder and provoking questions. Apactalyptic literally takes the form of an interactive cabinet (with many mirrors) where rather than gaze at arrangements of objects, we are invited to look at human subjects emblematising fears that are at the edge of our daily lives.

The audience, arranged in touring groups, are led through a living display, each in its own “compartment”, and viewed separately. First, we looked down on a strange-limbed creature struggling to be free from coils of slithering plastic and, after a quick change of scene find ourselves close to a desperate-eyed girl, writhing in dry, unavailing soil. We move on to be confronted by an empty, dark space in which a pale solitary figure attempts greater and greater challenges of balance, and whom, it seems, will inevitably lose control. From there we are hurried into a very claustrophobic space, featuring an Attenborough documentary on climate change projected onto the back of a young woman. We change again to see a woman’s head against a starry background and pass on, finally, to an epochal memorial service.

Directed from display to display by a stern-voiced guide of the sort who would brook no touching of exhibits or overstepping a line, a group might find themselves climbing or descending a metal staircase, lined up against a curtained wall or shuffling their way along a dark corridor towards another unknown destination. Once there, they might be commanded to sit on the floor, on an unaccommodating milk crate or balance on a narrow bench, staring expectantly at a blank film screen or dazzled by an accusingly bright light. This mystery tour nicely complements the bell-jarred visions of each imagined end.

This unusual performance, introduced by Fournier attired in a fabulous costume, was preceded by a lovely musical interlude featuring Persian music played on ancient instruments, and an invitation to share the food set out in the courtyard. Thanks to the artists – Marian Aboud, Alex Apt, Omer Backley-Astrachan, Sharon Backley-Astrachan, Tom Christophersen, Eliza Cooper, Imogen Cranna, Marina DeBris, Skye Gellman, Joanna Joy, Allie Graham, Shannon Johnson, Emalyn Knight, Hamed Sadeghi and Vicki Van Hout –
for an exciting evening.

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