Domestica

Sleepwalk Collective. Picture: Alessia Bombaci

Domestica

Birmingham Rep

***

SLEEPWALK Collective are a live-theatre and performance company from Spain. Their work explores the meaning of art and how we view it from the modern mind.

In Domestica, they show the dynamic of how the world and its people are influenced and why we are so compelled to create art in the first place. Drawing upon artists and figures throughout history, they react to the legacies of art from the past in an attempt to leave their mark in the present.

Sleepwalk use a mix of media that presents the accessibility of art in the modern day. They have a clever and poetic script, which has been developed since 2012 to present their imaginative observations about the obsession we have to leave behind a legacy. In the most creative and experimental way possible, they make us think that art is merely collection of objects placed around the world over a period of time.

Their message is a deep and metaphoric exploration into the main themes of art through the ages. Through their detailed description, we see a representation of the form evolving from the early civilisations. With feminist undertones and a talent for description, Sleepwalk leave it up to the audience to decide the hidden meaning behind each point.

Their script is an item of poetry in its own right. All dialogue is performed via a microphone, creating an eerie atmosphere with melancholy sounds and echoes. Upstage, there is a screen with a live feed depicting footnotes, giving the audience a further description about the scene in hand. Their words are imaginative and playful and yet they maintain a dark and slow atmosphere throughout, which creates an uncertain change in the future of art.

The performances from the artists make for an interesting show. Gloria March Chulvi, Iara Solano Arana and Malla Sofia Pessi are fearless in their delivery. They even state at the beginning of the piece that they don’t mind if we find it boring. Their presence is striking and bold, with fascinating effects. The intensity of the show builds up until a climactic end, where we see a collection from the past congregated into one.

The ladies use a mismatched set to portray different styles of art over the years. With the help of the on screen commentary, they place placards that show numbers all over the stage. Each number represents an image or item, so that in the end the stage is filled with imaginary pieces of art through the ages.

We also see a long banquet table which they sit behind for most of the performance as they recite the poetic script, much like news readers at a desk. Some particular items are used to spark the audience’s imagination, such as a sculpture of a deer, a broken chandelier and television screens with flashing images.

They create a world without a timeline, where all art thrives. Dry ice is also a key feature to their black and dark setting. The overall atmosphere is ethereal and perhaps a spooky portrayal of how we perceive classical art.

Sleepwalk Collective are exciting and new. They explore not only the themes of life but show the main crux of art with a unique vision and dynamic execution. Its slow and ghostly atmosphere takes a look into history and delves into how we as an audience view art in the modern world of today.

Elizabeth Halpin

17-10-16 

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