23-31 August, 10.55
Kooky and involving, this commentary on red tape society and governmental control uses the setting of East Germany to illustrate the evils of government surveillance and defence tactics based on fear.
The piece is visually striking, using strong imagery, militaristic uniform and very little lighting. Images are so clear they are almost iconic – the wall-high shelves of files, the grey and yellow uniforms, bare desks and cells. Dance moves are appropriately angular, yet expressive, often requiring strong body control and awareness.
The subject matter is tried and tested – 1984, Brave New World and myriad similar Kafkaesque commentaries since. No new philosophical angle is introduced, but concepts are illustrated highly effectively, and the subject matter is pertinent in this climate of ID cards and fear of terrorism. As the voiceover says: “…everyone must have their say…yes, there is only one path and we must make sure everyone follows that path…history repeating…the wall will protect us… to keep others out or to keep us in…”
Brilliant illustrative devices include the physical depiction of the social wrangling and wrestling behind simple conversations. All must empathise with a woman subjected to officious manipulation when requesting information on her missing husband –polite administrative clichés are accompanied by aggressive physical subjugation.
Files of information literally, physically oppress the performers at points and those in control are not accountable; their voices speak from behind walls of files. The motif of recording tape, trapping performers, is dominant, with the dancers becoming more and more entwined as they struggle to free themselves; a facile but effective method emphasising the imprisoning nature of surveillance culture.
The Kafkaesque subject matter is nothing new; however, this is a superbly executed and visually expressive interpretation of issues which are still pertinent today.