The name Moira Finucane comes labelled with many superlatives – world renowned, multi award winning, even national treasure. Her performance in her latest work, The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction, leaves you in no doubt that these labels are well justified.
Continuing the conversation started a couple of years ago in The Rapture, this is a treatise examining man's capacity for destruction, against the planet and one another. The question is asked, how can the power of art restore hope and enact change?
Performed in her spiritual home of fortyfivedownstairs the space is at once a setting for a Gothic fairytale with soft hazy light, dreamy suspended icicles and draping greenery. Filling the centre, anchoring this space is a long raised walkway. A catwalk where Moira struts, floats, thunders and roar, where she prowls and sometimes dances with pure joy. The audience is transported to a place of other and at no time permitted to disengage. The intimacy of proximity invites judgement and enquiry.
To be in a state of rapture is to be carried away, transferred from one point to another in a heightened state of exhalation. From the moment she explodes onto her runway Moira's intent is clear. She has been the observer, these are her revelations, these are ours to understand.
Visually, the high art of costume suggests the seductive idealised female glamour of Golden Hollywood through to the grotesque evocation of fantastical creature in feather and fur – not human, not quite beast – personas of womanhood that are both imposing and vulnerable. When Moira strips down, discards the fabulous garbs and stands naked before all this is not an act of shock and confrontation but of honest engagement. It's a gesture of trust which is humbling and beautiful.
This exuberant piece trolls the depths of despair over the global state of environmental dessismation, of patriarchal perpetuation of violence against women and against conquered people. Her recent journey to Antarctica was both exhilarating and astonishing. Her time with the Mudburra people of the NT has her honoured by the sharing of sacred stories around disturbing acts of violence perpetrated by colonial invaders. She is left horrified after witnessing he artistic evocation of female victims of violence in the darkness of a Danish forest, left feeling helpless and incredulous. When she speaks directly of these experiences, having stripped away artifice of costumes and role play you are receptive to the message.
Supporting her intentions are the superb voices of Mama Alto and Piera Dennerstein. On the stage or on the side lines their presence contributes to the raptorous intent. Introducing Ray Dimakarri Dixon, elder and musician of the Mudburra people created a poignant, powerful act of connection. Through song and story there is an understanding of one from another.
Towards the end of the performance the question is asked, "what can I do?" The answer from the "young ones" is one of hope. A heavy rock when it lands in the water creates far reaching ripples. On leaving, each audience member is given a piece of paper, a "Roadmap of Hope, 8 things you can do ....to help save the world." Simple suggestions to make meaningful change. The more rocks that land, further and longer reaching are those ripples. Though there is darkness there is always hope. Moira asks us to ask for the truth. Only in truth can come positive change.
This show is a delight but this is not passive entertainment. You will be thrilled, compelled and dragged away from cosy indifference but you are not left abandoned or without hope. Can art be a means to make a difference?... Most definitely!
Finucane & Smith presents
The Rapture Chapter II: Art vs Extinction
Directors Jackie Smith and Moira Finucane
Venue: fortyfivedownstairs | 45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC
Dates: 4 – 29 September 2019
Tickets: $25 – $98