Buzzcut festival report
Performance festival returns to Pearce Institute, Govan
Glasgow's Buzzcut festival returned this past weekend with yet more cutting edge performance art. We sent two of our writers down on day two and four of the fest and report back on some of the highlights.
This year there is an ecological theme at Buzzcut, with recycling stands and pieces exploring identity and the impact of carbon footprints and ancestral voices.
Inbetween, a dance piece devised by Aby Watson and Ellie Dubois, explores the transitioning of girlhood to womanhood using a small group of teenagers and women. Tumbling, suggestive of childish freedom turns to self-conscious gestures imbued by an awareness of changing bodies. More sleek movement, augmented by counting, serves as a reminder of borrowed time and the ephemeral nature of innocence. It is at once uncomfortable, fragile and rather beautiful to watch.
Steven Anderson's The Sea and Growing is an elegiac mediation on letting go and deconstructing Anderson's own art. With an electric cello, folk songs and a low-droning, rumbling loop, he emerges from a suit, wrapping himself in a bed sheet which he wipes over a painting created in real time. Asking members of the audience to display his paintings, he then proceeds to dance delicately around the room and then destroy one piece of art by ripping it entirely from its frame.: although it appears sorrowful, the piece is resolute in intent.
Who Owns This? is a site-specific piece by Edward Crawley asking questions about land ownership and that which blocks our personal development in life. It is semi-autobiographical and ritualistic. Crawley, an amiable yet rabble rousing storyteller, stands at a patch of land, into which he has dug a heart, shape talking about Govan and asking about limitations, both in terms of legal rights and personal space. He confronts that which has blocked him in life and sets fire to the list, a cathartic gesture, before inciting others in the crowd to do the same. It becomes touching (one woman speaks of being blocked in a creative sense, another by disability) and surreal (a passer-by joins in and talks of Jesus saving him). An intense and very emotionally charged piece, with Crawley's humour and warmth ensuring it is nonetheless an enjoyable experience. (LI)
Buzzcut's distinctive identity is as much a matter of atmosphere as it is a consequence of its curation: with over sixty shows, it ranges from emergent artists testing a new concept through to established theatre-makers presenting pieces that could comfortably hold their own during the Edinburgh Fringe. Saturday's line-up reflects this eclecticism, with veterans like Diane Torr and Richard Layzell sharing the bill with FK Alexander (a recent graduate from the RCS) and a works-in-progress, like Louise Orwin's A Girl and A Gun.
Although Diane Torr is best known for her work as a drag-king (her workshops transform participants into 'a man for a day'), Donald Does Dusty is a deeply felt and personal production that explores her conspiratorial relationship with her older brother.
Using clips from Donald's time in a TV dancing troupe, and Torr's remarkable story-telling skills, Donald Does Dusty touches upon themes of gender identity, the troubled history of sexual difference in the UK and Torr's powerful bond with her glamorous brother – and his enthusiasm for Dusty Springfield.
Torr's sensitivity to history, and her own experiences growing up in 1950s Scotland, allows the performance to become a melancholic meditation on the impact of the political on the personal, leading towards a celebratory finale that asks the audience to remember those they have loved and lost.
With Indigenous Objects, Siriol Joyner, a classically trained dancer who is developing 'a practice which investigates the relation between thought and movement', attempts to explore Govan's identity through the filter of her own Welsh upbringing. Having selected various objects from the area, she uses these a foundation for a choreographic script, interpreting the pieces as symbols of Govan's mythology and history.
Performing outdoors, Joyner presents the challenges of finding meaning in a fragmented culture – some of the familiar, cast-off objects act as props for her choreography – and the struggle to make connections between her experiences and the environment of Govan.
Although it is hard to pin down Buzzcut to a broader theme – that would react against the open nature of the festival's curation – the mixture of approaches becomes, in itself, a defining identity. Certain ideas resurface – fragmentation, disorientation, the way that art can lend a personal experience a wider resonance, even fire as a spectacle – but diversity remains a consistent buzzword. (GVK)
Buzzcut festival took place in Glasgow, 18–21 Mar.