|Antony Gormley ‘Lever II’|
Sadly I wish I’d had the idea of going to see the new show by Akram Khan myself, though alas that privilege has to go to a friend of mine who works at The Lowry. Being ‘in-the-know’ she told me it was one of the shows I just had to go to. I’m also not one for performance art but seen as it was part of an art exhibition where the dancers lead you around the pieces and ‘interact’ with them I was undeniably curious about going to see it. Plus I absolutely love the remarkable yet eerie works by Antony Gormley and Anish Kapoor so it was a bit of a no-brainer going to see it.
Unsure as to what to expect, we were greeted by a large electronic board called a ‘Bahok Machine’ that ticked over the words need to introduce the show and that we needed to take off our shoes. Unsurprisingly they didn’t want clomping boots to distract from the sound and performance by the dancers. As you wander through led by a little girl, she takes you from room to room as you encounter a piece or several pieces of art that the performers then narrate, dance or ‘hang’ around (literally, from the ceiling). All about death and rebirth, light and dark, the spiritual and the grounded. It was an exhilarating and fascinating exhibition to attend. Not only do the works of art, particularly the sculpture pieces, appear even more haunting as the lights, sound and performance mimic their shape, form and ‘being’. The dancers are exceptional. They do the works justice by enhancing the stories aligned to them. I have never seen anything like it.
My favourite part of the exhibition was a completely blacked out space where you couldn’t see anything and as I settled on the floor, sensing a couple of people had sat down near to me, the lights in front started to flicker. As they got brighter and more feverish, dance music came on and a figure in black started dancing in front of the lights that kept on moving, flashing on and off in rhythm to the music. Absolutely astounding and a real privilege to watch.
Akram Khan is quoted as saying “Art has always been a great source of nourishment for my mind, my body and my heart. Its form is irrelevant, whether it be painting, dancing, singing, acting, because in the end, all forms of ‘art’ are primarily about connecting, communicating, telling stories, emotionally provoking the other. So even though I have predominantly invested my body in movement and my passion in the world of dance, I tend to find the most interesting movement in all other art-forms, away from dance.“
|Serena Smith ‘Hodegetria 2’ diptych|
I left the exhibition in complete awe of the dancers and how Akram has not only acted as curator but choreographer too. Intending to tap into your every sense particularly in terms of what you saw, heard, touched, and ultimately, felt. A raw, visceral sense of renewal conveyed within me too after seeing it. Such the powerful performance it is. And not to forget the art itself, there are some intriguing pieces especially Serena Smith’s stone lithographs of the landscape. Intertwined and symbolistic in their part to play within this mysterious, shadowy and veiled world…. the embodiment of transformation.
One Side to the Other’ is on until the end of January on Saturdays only, though with only one week left I believe its fully booked now.