It was an instinct of “can’t-miss” this, that lead me to abandon my village setting in the southern Peloponnesus (and the five-hour bus ride into Athens) for the Institute for Experimental Arts and Void Network event (Greece), two nights of ‘wonder and awe’ idiomatic, and the 7th International Video Poetry Festival free -zone ‘dark side of the instinct’ at Theatre Empros.
The first evening was comprised of International short films / hybrid media screenings. Each of the films, satisfyingly complex and powerful through their semiotics. The films struck me as indelible installations with high aesthetic value. What seemed to connect them successfully, was the re-working of the themes of identity, hedonism, migration, urbanity
What happened in the second night of Live Poetry Performances can be best described by comparing it to what usually occurs in the middle stages of a mystic self-transcendence and ritual trance- state. Each poet took to the microphone for their set. Through personal layered-accounts, memory-trips, and montage overlays, the audience was drawn into a hypnotic visual and aerial world. The poet’s experiences with cornerstone – Greek heteronormative ‘stabilities’ and its pathology, punctuated in staccato bursts and bounces of indignation and then measured rage. Between observations of the cruel social rejection of the homeless to the Nazi-taunted refugees, the poetry and music brought the House ‘down’, again and again. The momentum and impetus of the audience were insane. A point of entrance was definitely ‘cracked’ for an emergent experience and the
When the mayhem finally settled, Sissy Disoutsou (Thespian), guided the audience into more ‘hyper mapping’ into unpredictability. The experimental art performance directed by Sissy Doutsiou (in the upstairs wing of the Theatre) felt more like a complex mathematical system that was planned for us, or lab. experiment, rather than a theatre piece. The audience was allowed into the upstairs space in groups of ten and chose the route of their wandering through the darkened space, aided only by their phone lights. It contained for me elements of both Kalakathi dance and Artaudian Theatre of Cruelty and a delicate balance or pervading ‘harmony over chaos’ which Sissy Disoutsou’s rare kind of auteur vision reveals. Apparent (downstairs) with her two poem epic readings, ΑΝΕΥ ΟΡΩΝ ΑΝΕΥ ΟΡΙΩΝ (Without Terms Without Limits) and Paid Rape, and then in the theatre installation (upstairs) entitled: Ecstasy # 1.
The upstairs pieces were executed with both a delicacy and a total commitment by the eight Theatre students Dimosthenis Halkias, John Voulgaris, Panagiotis Ber, Konstantina Baka-Fili, LU, Ifigeneia Antonidou, Evagelia Papantoniou, Nikolas Papoulias directed by Doutsiou. A personal text (taped to A3 paper on the floor) accompanied each actor’s stylized performative actions and helped to express for each their intuitive and creative innovation choices. I found the upstairs happening a kind of needed meta-conceptual dénouement for what the audience had experienced in the main space i.e. the intense interweaving tropes of subjectivity with the impetus of protest. An ephemeral theatre experience it was indeed and felt it could last forever.
Ecstasy #1 by the Institute for Experimental Arts
More than 150 people visited the space of the performance: Ecstasy #1. The 8 performers offered us an astonishing experience with a performance that took place in the dark room of the upper floor for more than two hours in a very deep, intense and ritualistic atmosphere. Combining hard-action body performance with written poetry and distraction of taboos the performers created a strong existential experience for the amazed audience.