Sunday, 29 January 2012

thecityandthecityandthecity mbOdied (or back on Bedford Way)

thecityandthecityandthecity - UCL UrbanLab 2012

It was access all areas at 26 Bedford Way for Carolyn Deby's performance of  thecityandthecityandthecity mbOdied as UCL UrbanLab's artist in residence presented her choreographed piece. Over three days in late January 2012 the site-specific work saw thirty audience members/participants/witnesses gather for each show in the foyer of the UCL building. The large group was split up into three smaller groups, each with their own coloured wristbands. The group followed was the yellow wristband group led by Swedish dancer Pia Nordin, who made a dictatorial allegience gesture with her fist to summon her followers. We piled into the lift and filed down to the Map Room where Carolyn briefed us on the performance 'no talking and take it all in'. After donning feather-light angel mesh waistcoats we filed into the study area, where the theses are kept. Pitch black and facing the rear windows from the far wall we could make out bodies moving amongst the desks. We progressed through the building, using spaces significant by their room numbering (113, 311 etc) and content, we were led into these transformed spaces of film, text, soil/dead flora, or visual platforms. We also ventured out of the building and into the busy Friday commuter traffic to trace shadows with chalk. Shadows of trees, shrubs or street furniture projected onto the pavements by streetlights. Then back into the (much warmer|) building and up to the top floor to look over the slither of ground between UCL and the residences of Woburn Square where performers placed lights illuminating this space. Of personal interest was the session in the Maconochie Room where a video was playing of a river wade we conducted in November with the current ESS students down along the Ravensbourne in Ladywell.

The performance highlighted the 'layers of human existence' and the metabolic ebbs and flows between nature and architecture with humans as the connecting fibres. Perceptions of space were intercepted by these texts, spoken words or flashes of movement, the normal function of each room now cast aside. Old and new territories paraded side by side either in contrast or harmony.One was reminded of the site-specific work of choreographer Charlie Hooker who, in his time, has presented work in multi-story car parks, the Regents Canal and Hyde Park. Such work is always challenging, always exciting and a real joy to behold. The other dancers were Alexandra Baybutt and Jia-Yu Corti.

Carolyn Deby is an artist/choreographer whose site-based, performance work examines the lived experience of humans—situating the human body/psyche within landscape—investigating how humans and the ‘urban’ are implicated in systems/reconstitutions of ‘nature’. Carolyn works internationally as sirenscrossing.
UCL Urban Laboratory — 2011 Leverhulme Trust Artist-in-residence