Livio Casanova: U    O T  R V

20 minute presentation for AEROPONIC ACTS  - growing roots in air, DAI's 3 day marathon of lecture-perfomance acts, May 2019.

"Since they cannot elevate from flat land, once set down in an ordinary forest, say, they are doomed." Samuel R. Delany, The Tale of Dragons and Dreamers

Ana Teixeira Pinto, Rachel O’Reilly, Laura Harris and Hypatia Vourloumis responded to the question:

How to spread a clue?

Report by Ayesha Hameed:

Large green, blue and pink swaths of velour with white shapes stitched into them are spread across the floor. From the end of strings that extend from this tapestry to edges of the room and up over the railings, hang small, sparkly dragon figurines. The audience lies down, using the fabric as blankets. When people crawl under, the fabric becomes a hilly landscape, brightly coloured and evoking the piece’s sci-fi reference to Samuel Delaney on the perils of survival due to the inability to elevate from flat land. A rumbling sound emanates from the speakers and intensifies. The light dims. The crowd under the blanket move to a side of the room, then stand up and raise the fabric. Others pull at the strings looped onto the balcony. People run in and out from under the fabric without any obvious reason. Are there instructions? What are the hieroglyphs stitched onto the fabric? It seems that when someone is exposed by the raising of the fabric they have to leave. It is like Laputa, the flying island in Gulliver’s Travels. 

Rachel O’Reilly was struck by the transition of the fabric from inanimate to a jellylike substance, and noted the lack of clarity around what participants knew in advance, and which gave pleasure that those outside did not access. The colour and texture of the fabric shape how the audience engages with it, she said, in recognition of art historical precedents that centre on how form shapes engagement. 

Ana Texeira Pinto returned to the artist’s question taken from Delaney on how dragons can take on flight from land when they cannot fly, which caused her to ask: ‘What kind of order do we impose on fantasy?’ 

Laura Harris thought the clue here seemed to be an invitation: the music was suspenseful, Marx Brothers meets Lygia Clark. ‘What it forms is a collective body, another creature, a biological architecture,’ she said. ‘This was punctuated by laughter, so there was pleasure in watching it transform.’

Hypatia Vourloumis said it was hard to respond to the presentation because it was a mystery. ‘The doom of dragons who cannot fly is undercut by the bodies under the fabric who made it possible through undulation, creating a terrain like a tent,’ she said. She also appreciated the sound, which reminded her of dragons and the 3D texture of the velour.