Photo – Tristan Still
The banal is made dangerous in this one man DIY circus.
Branch Nebula give us a perfect display of real time, real effort. We watch Lee Wilson craft his own circus rig, tight rope, jungle gym and more out of nothing more than cardboard, plastic and of course packing tape.
Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters have made interesting work in the past. Work that brings art to spaces, often public ones where new audiences get to see it. This piece however brings the art to a space we have all been before. An everyday space of boxes, tape and work. This time it's re imagined as an adult playground. Or perhaps it was always this and we just needed the perspective of some artists. The work has a delicious voyeuristic feeling at times. Like you are watching a rogue circus performer who broke into a factory and decided to put on a show.
There was 4 different soundscapes in play during this piece.
1. The live and amplified sound of packaging tape being applied and a man attempting some impressive feats with at least 7 live microphones in the space.
2. The prerecorded and also live mixed sounds of the world being played back with a rhythmic underscore by sound designer Phil Downing.
3. Involuntary sounds and gasps from the audience between continually repeating phrases like "are you serious" "he's joking" and "oh my god".
4. Silence. That kind of silence when a large group of people are holding their breath and all watching the one ridiculous thing.
A true personal highlight was the rhythmic gymnastic ribbon routine which involved Wilson cutting sick with a metallic tape measure and bubble wrap suit.
Lovers of circus and physical performance will find this work very enjoyable. Strong sound and lighting, with even stronger feats of physical skill and daring. The only weak thing in this work are the materials Wilson uses to support his physical well being and safety.
High Performance Packing Tape kicked off the Melbourne International Arts Festival and is a perfect example of the caliber of performance we can expect from this year's festival. There is a lot to see this year with many shows running a short season. So jump on this quickly and grab a ticket before it closes on the 6th of October. Although the set looks like a giant sticky mess this is one very well packaged show.
Warnings: Contains full frontal nudity, onstage smoke effects, strobe lighting, loud music or very loud effects.
2019 Melbourne International Arts Festival
High Performance Packing Tape
Venue: Meat Market | 3 Blackwood St, North Melbourne VIC
Dates: 2 – 6 October 2019
Presented with Arts House