By Cristina Balma Tivola
The show is not over. It is simply at its second edition, and – as Laurent says – ready to hit Tokyo next year. With this news he greets everybody at the end of the performance Friday night. The last two days of the week represented the public restitution of the work that both visual artists and musicians had created and developed during week, each on their side. And it was also a chance for them to eventually discover if the final performance would result in an analogy or in a contrast.
Thursday evening Ericailcane, DEM and Will Barras met at the Stolen Space gallery in Brick Lane where their previous works had been exhibited over the last month as part of an exhibition concurrent to the main event. Three wood panels were leaned against the gallery’s external wall. I entered the gallery and saw the exhibition for the first time. For different reasons, I realised I appreciate all three of them – as each style resonates with something familiar to my interests, my attitudes or my life.
If I had begun my relationship with the project by visiting the exhibition, I would have been very surprised by the idea of making these visual artists work together. Their works are definitely far away from each other – in terms of subject, in terms of drawing, in terms of technique and material. Still, I saw them working together first and can therefore understand better how well they suit each other, smoothing their personal style to reach a final collective harmony. So I see in the visual work what Om Unit told me about the work they were doing with the music.
Back to the gallery, people are gathering and visiting the exhibition, having a beer, talking with the three guys. It’s incredibly cold outside, but despite this the number of visitors grows. At about 7, DEM begins his painting on the central panel, followed by Ericailcane, on his left, and Will Barras on his right. They do not work together at the same time: one paints a small sketch, and then takes a pause, and in the meantime another one paints a small sketch of his panel, and takes a pause and so on. The final work will show three different subjects – one for each artist and panel – but mutually connected, resulting in, again, a sort of dance in which they alternate for two hours.
I see them again on Friday, the last day. They worked quite late all evening to finish the animations for the showcase as well as the details of how they would be controlled and blended with Hiraki’s own work which is more image/video based. They talk relaxed with friends, have drinks and wait for the people to enter the venue, a rather big bar/club at the back of the Truman Brewery. On the walls on the right side of the club hang three huge white cut outs, each a silhouette that hints at the animations they will soon host.
At 9, about a hundred people gather to watch the performance. Tatsuki begins playing, soon followed by Om Unit and then Tayone. It’s time for images to start as well, and animations flow onto the cut out screens sometimes with a white background, sometimes with Hiraki’s videos as a background – the waves and the sea, birds over the water, burning embers. The effect is again fluid: music and images mix perfectly without any contrasts, as well as – most of the times – the same images among themselves.
People watch carefully and move, feeling the rhythm of the music and clearly willing to dance. A few of them do. No expression is better than the one of ‘experience of flow’ created by Csíkszentmihályi to describe “the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity” and that, in collective terms, can be applied to both performers and audience whilst the performance take place.
45 minutes end in a second, and then Tayone goes one mixing the music, and freeing people to dance – now that the showcase is over and the little tension melts in open smiles among artists, friends and audience. Laurent softly greets everybody as he did at the beginning of the show, and then voices gets loud again, commenting the success of the work, and followed by hugs and laughs. You could think this is a reunion among friends who happen to also be artists from different countries and with different competences and means of expression – more then an art event, as it also is. Probably both and one is the alibi for the other…
But… Wait! Doesn’t all this lie in the introduction and the aim of Original Cultures?