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JH

Rock My Religion

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Nathan Gray, The Shakers. Nathan Gray, The Shakers. Nathan Gray, The Shakers. Nathan Gray, The Shakers.

Watching the three energised performers here from different angles is surprisingly engrossing for, because it is not disjointed but continuous, you become fascinated with the spatial tensions: particularly those between horizontal and vertical. There is a tension between the different screen-section shapes, and the differences between the performers' bodily (parallel) relation to the walls and floor.

Auckland

 

Nathan Gray
The Shakes

 

7 July - 30 July 2016

In this video installation Sydney-based experimental film-maker Nathan Gray, along with fellow performers Rebecca Jensen (dancer, choreographer) and Tarquin Manek (musician), presents a musical /contemporary dance work that uses 4-5 cameras to split the screen up into different interlocking rectangles and bars, often with the recording camera flipped sideways or inverted. The improv performance gradually varies its pace and moods, sometimes with frenetic saxophone, other times with percussion, or repeated soundless movement.

The divided screen, with its simultaneous (shuffled around) viewpoints and sequencing of activities, easily holds your attention. You could argue that its complicated spatial structure as a projection makes it into a form of ‘painting’ - via its structure, anyway.

Watching the three energised performers from different angles is surprisingly engrossing for, because it is not disjointed but continuous, you become fascinated with the spatial tensions: particularly those between horizontal and vertical. There is a tension between the different screen-section shapes, and the differences between the performers’ bodily relation to the (parallel) walls and floor. These two aspects are nicely interwoven and help make the viewing via multiple perspectives deeply satisfying.

The title of this work, The Shakers, obviously refers to the section near the end when the three performers are lying on the floor, twitching or ‘vibrating’. The Shakers are a well known Christian community in the States that originally broke away from the Quakers and who are much admired for their elegant and austere furniture, but the name was originally a derisive term much like ‘Holy Rollers‘ is for Pentecostals. This title seems like a fascinating (coincidental) offshoot of Andre Breton’s phrase that ‘beauty is convulsive’, and in the context of contemporary dance, is unquestionably accurate.

The complexity of this film, with its different butted together vistas and actions (mischievously muddled further when the performers swap their loose fitting clothes) is what keeps it exciting. A treat.

John Hurrell

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