[20060085] The Human Layer

The Human Layer

Polaroid Now @ a mystery venue :)

7:30pm, Fri 17 Mar 2006

Attracted by the bizarre description in the Fringe Guide, I met up with about a dozen other punters outside CentrePoint on Pultney Street. On a Friday night. OK, maybe not the wisest choice for those adverse to crowds, but there you go.

We’re greeted outside Target by one of the Victoria-based Polaroid Now crew who, true to their name, take a Polaroid photo of our hands. And you sense this is going to be something a little bit off the beaten track. And so it – literally – is, as we’re led on a stroll down Pultney onto Pirie Street. Suddenly, we turn into a dead-end lane – construction on one side of us, car-park on the other.

There, from a pile of newspaper, rustles a man – grimy, gruntingly mute, looking like stereotypically homeless trash. He’s joined by a similarly themed woman; they grunt and moan, lock the audience in a large wire cage, and producing icky little avatar puppets.

The puppets laugh at, spit at, piss on us within the cage. It feels like an intentionally-subtle-yet-unintentionally-overt political statement, but the impact is heightened due to our own semi-cramped captivity. Eventually, the man and woman discard their avatars in disgust; they enter our cage, disappearing behind a previously disregarded screen before having their shadows cast upon it. The shadows mutilate each other, an avatar is devoured, before the screen drops, exposing the man and woman again. Out of a pile of rubbish they raise a huge newspaper puppet, at least seven feet tall; the two of them walk it to the end of the lane, lay it to rest, then burn it. As the embers of this once mighty creation drift in the air, the man and woman cower in a corner.

It’s an outdoors site-specific work and, on a somewhat cold, damp and dank night, the crew were a little worried about getting rained on. No precipitation eventuated, but what they did get, however, was a short visit from Chubb security, wondering what the fuck was going on. It was only a momentary diversion for the alert punter, though, and didn’t affect the overall enjoyment of the piece.

And, I have to say, I really enjoyed this. It was one of those performances where you get completely thrilled by someone else’s creative ability. Where you think “there’s no way I could come up with this.” Where you get completely immersed in another’s vision. Where you come away thankful that you took a chance. Where you feel like you’ve helped validate another’s existence.

Where you feel like you’ve witnessed art.

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