SPILL Festival of Performance, London

SPILL Festival of Performance, London

The SPILL Festival of Performance brings together some of the finest and most radical experimental theatre, live art and performances of today’s prominent artists from around the world. The lineup for the 2013 edition is a true delight thanks to the most eclectic performances of our days, all brought together under the theme of ‘contact’, exploring issues of connection, exchange and advocacy.

And what a way to launch the SPILL Festival this year! Opening to a sold-out audience at the Barbican is the Famous Laura Barri Holstein with her untamed (to say the least) performance of Splat!

Splat! is a tightly devised show that not only produces evocative images, but also tests the minds of the audience, as the performance weaves in and out of pleasure and total dismay. As the audience take in explicit nudity, dance, live video imagery, storytelling and singing, at the core of the show’s journey is the ride to fulfill the Superstar within The Famous Laura Barri Holstein. Impressions of aspiration, victimization and domestication are portrayed in unpredicted ways as Holstein strives to live up to her name.

The performance is full of numerous unearthly scenes. Highly provocative and uncensored, Holstein performs naked dance routines, while swinging around on a harness to pounding music. But that’s just the start! After admiring Holstein dancing on roller skates with a deer head whilst singing a Disney song ‘A Whole New World’, one will never look at Bambi in the same way! She continues the performance by being smothered in tomato puree with her body language reflecting both distaste and satisfaction, enlightened by the strong smell and the vivid images.

When not singing along to pop music, Holstein’s voice is a running commentary filled with long silent moments caused by simulated boredom, which contribute to slowly unravel Holstein’s journey to being famous. However, what really provides Holstein with a constant state of showmanship is her relationship with the predominant female cast (including Hrafnhildur Benediktsdóttir and Krista Vuori), who accept Holstein exercising her femininity with a great dry sense of humor, demanding nature and behaviour. By placing herself in a position where everything is under her direction and control and by using a direct, endearing, and humorous attitude towards her collaborators, Holstein cleverly depicts the victimizing of others, while she herself may well be the victim, as she slowly destructs her dreamlike world with hard-core enthusiasm.

Splat! Definitely represents the current state of live art that, while providing a great evening of pure entertainment, underlines real truths in expected ways. And this is just the beginning! The full programme of the SPILL Festival of Performance features 86 different shows over 2 weeks, including the influential Forced Entertainment (UK) with Quizoola!

Right now, London is the main stage for the most alternative performances in Live Art and Experimental Theatre. Although the festival is not heavily publicized, the originality of the work on show is a bold statement of what happens when artists test the boundaries of making Performance.

Frances Cooper

SPILL Festival of Performance, 3 – 14 April, London, www.spillfestival.com

Image: Wendy Bevan + Temper Temper (credit by sayaka maruyama) and SPILL