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Press

VOID re-imagines

JG Ballard’s cult novel Concrete Island through the lens of

a black female protagonist

/ staged as a meshing of

experimental dance and

abstract glitch video landscapes

 

V/DA & MHz in association with FERAL present:

“As we drive across a motorway intersection,  we glimpse triangles of waste ground screened off by a steep embankments. What would happen if, by some freak mischance, we suffered a blow-out and plunged over the guard-rail onto a forgotten island of rubble and weeds, out of sight of the surveillance cameras?

 

MAROONED ON A TRAFFIC ISLAND, WE CAN TYRANNISE OURSELVES, TEST OUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES, PERHAPS COME TO TERMS WITH ASPECTS OF OUR CHARACTERS TO WHICH WE HAVE ALWAYS CLOSED OUR EYES .”

 

‘J.G BALLARD

CONCRETE ISLAND INTRODUCTION [1974]

"IN ORDER TO BRING COLONIALISM TO AN END, ONE DOES NOT SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER, ONE HAS TO INHABIT THE CRAZY, NONSENSICAL, RANTING LANGUAGE OF THE OTHER, THE OTHER WHO HAS BEEN RENDERED A NONENTITY BY COLONIALISM. INDEED, BLACKNESS, IS THE WILLINGNESS TO BE IN THE SPACE THAT HAS BEEN ABANDONED BY COLONIALISM, BY RULE, BY ORDER"

 

J. HALBERSTAM, S.HARNEY

& F.MOTEN

THE UNDERCOMMONS:
FUGITIVE PLANNING & BLACK STUDY

[2013]

★  ★  ★  ★  ★

An absolutely remarkable display of physicality; a terrifying, chaotic, controlled performance that is as beautiful as it is disturbing.”

Broadway Baby

★  ★  ★  ★  ★

"Intelligent, thought-provoking dance reflects on what we have made of our world."

The Wee Review

★  ★  ★  ★

"Powerful multimedia dance-theatre disturbs the senses and the status quo...VOID is an inescapably powerful piece of work, both in its message and its sense-jangling form."

Fest Magazine

★  ★  ★  ★

"Dangerous, despairing experimental dance, where ragdoll weakness tries to find a riotous way up and out, towards resilience."

 The List

★  ★  ★  ★

"VOID assails you, unnerves you on many levels with Broomes at the heart of the risk-taking"

The Herald

 

"an intense, Artaudian theatre of the senses, that reaches out through the bombardment of eye-boggling images and bone-juddering sounds to our intellect and imagination."

 Total Theatre Magazine

 

Total Theatre Awards 2018

★  ★  ★  ★  ★

"Strikes at the heart of the most cherished and celebrated foundations of our unbalanced society."

Mumble Cirque

★  ★  ★  ★

"Punchy, intimate dance...Broomes has taken Ballard’s modern-day Robinson Crusoe and replaced him with a black woman, whose desperate attempts to adjust to terrifying and alien circumstances are revealed as a metaphor for the immigrant experience."

 The Guardian

★  ★  ★  ★

"Broomes turns herself upside down, literally and figuratively, to articulate the emergence of new ways of be- ing, grounded in authentic experience."

British Theatre Guide

★  ★  ★  ★

"Spiky show of arms and legs, draped with video projections both powerful and desperate."

The Skinny

★  ★  ★  ★

"a scream of feminine rage and is both visually stunning and uncomfortable, using projection and glitch art to support Broomes in some of the most original and stark dance performance I’ve ever come across."

 Ed Fest Magazine

 

"VOID has never been more timely. the combined talents of this trio have created a twitchy, compelling and dark look at ballardian themes which time and again have been proved worryingly prescient.”

 Tempohouse

Thanks to our contributing music artists:

NAME_CONSTANT, HLASKO, JESS COBLE and KATAJAMÄKI

other soundtrack artists include:

Philip Cohran and the artistic heritage ensemble (Malcom X tribute)

Indlela Yababi (Extreme music from Africa)

LOGOS/Shapenoise - Ketev - Swarm_Intelligence - Lumisokea

ESSAYS:

  • VOID and The Undercommons - By Ashanti Harris

    re-imagine : to re-interpret, imaginatively : to imagine again or anew; especially : to form a new conception of : re-create

     

    In the case of Void, to re-imagine is to re-frame, re-present, re-tell, re-peat; a process of repetition with a critical difference. Void is a re-imagining of J.G. Ballard’s Concrete Island, re-told from the perspective of a black female protagonist [Click for full text]

    Drawing parallels from Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s The Undercommons, a study of fugitivity and blackness, Void is a re-imagining of critical consciousness and a radical intervention in the discourse of race and representation.

     

    In this re-telling, Concrete Island’s protagonist Maitland – a white male architect, intent on breaking out of the real world – is re-imagined as Angela – a black female architect, desperately trying and failing to break in. Privileged, patriarchal, supremacy is re-placed with the internalised, suppressed trauma of a black woman. The trauma of making void her subjectivity. A trauma which The Undercommons identifies as, “being asked, more and more, to do without thinking, to feel without emotion, to move without friction, to adapt without question, to translate without pause, to desire without purpose, to connect without interruption.” The trauma which fuels the ‘Break.’

     

    Ballard’s ‘Crash’, becomes the ambiguously decisive ‘Break’; a moment of lunacy, possessed by Angela’s unconscious and unformed understanding of the ways in which her experiences of the world unknowingly negate her own value; a consequence of what bell hooks understands as the internalising white supremacist values. The ‘Break’, disguised as mania, is the assertion of Angela’s own agency, fuelled by the depths of pain, rage and anger which have no voice. Without words there is only action. The ‘Break’ becomes a chaotic assertion of freedom and power; articulating in the extremities of movement; in the distortion; in the visual jazz and the cacophonies of chaos.

     

    Marooned on a traffic island, we can tyrannise ourselves, test our strengths and weaknesses, perhaps come to terms with aspects of our characters to which we have always closed our eyes.

    – J.G. Ballard, Concrete Island introduction [1974]

     

    Marooned on a traffic island, the architect discovers the true meaning of marronage, not as a passive circumstance but a forceful act of fugitive survival. As the condition of possibility; what Moten and Harney call “an undercommons of enlightenment, where the work gets done, where the work gets subverted, where the revolution is still black, still strong.”

     

    This contrapuntal island, where we are marooned in search of marronage, where we linger in stateless emergency, in our lysed cell and held dislocation.

    – Stefano Harney & Fred Moten, The Undercommons [2013]

     

    Like The Undercommons, The Void is a place where “we already are. We’re already here, moving.[…] We ask and we tell and we cast the spell that we are under, which tells us what to do and how we shall be moved, here, where we dance the war of apposition. We’re in a trance that’s under and around us. We move through it and it moves with us, out beyond the settlements, out beyond the redevelopment, where black night is falling.” The Void is a concrete island, a fugitive space of violent surrender. A place of ‘disruption and consent to disruption.’ Of possession, dispossession and re-possession. A place of consciousness. An unknown and cathartic, empty space. (Once you get empty, you can get full again). A place where fantasy is contiguous with nothingness. A place of transubstantial silence. A place not of resolution but of endless re-imagining in the periphery of what is and can be known. A place of transformation; of inhabiting/becoming the Void.

     

    It ends as it begins, in motion, in between various modes of being and belonging, and on the way to new economies of giving, taking, being with and for […], on the way to another place altogether.

    The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study [2013]

     

    ---

    Ashanti Harris, 2018.

  • VOID and Concrete Island - By Pete Sach

    The stories that make up JG Ballard’s ‘Urban Disaster’ trilogy confront their readers with palpable horrors. Horrors in such close proximity to the practice of everyday life that even when penned in the 1970s they did not exist in a future yet to be realised, but in a recognisable reading of the present. Forty years later, the horrors in Crash, Concrete Island, and High Rise remain prescient, dwelling in the ordinary realm of numerous urban spaces now home to much of the world’s population. [Click for full text]

     

     

    In Concrete Island, the second book of the trilogy, Ballard’s protagonist Maitland is a wealthy architect - an esteemed designer of urban life who crafts the spatial experiences of countless citizens. After an abrupt crash on a motorway flyover, Maitland finds himself marooned on the uncontested, negative space of an embankment between the flyover’s tarmacked arteries. It is this space, marginal and overlooked by the planned city and its inhabitants, which ultimately lays siege to Maitland’s psyche.

     

    * * * * *

     

    An allegory of alienation in the urban realm, a violent telling of adapting to new environments, Concrete Island lays bare the relationship between bodies and space and how quickly that relationship can devastate the mind. We city dwellers of today give little thought to the interplay between our selves and the streets we travel, the routes we take, and perhaps more importantly, those we do not. How easy would it be for any one of us embedded in daily life as urban citizens to turn or slip from our own reading of the city’s master plan? To be forced to confront the fear and alienation we suppress daily by simply taking a different turn?

     

    When considering these realms of possibility Glasgow is privileged. In regards to UK cities, none more so than here are we able to view the stark contrast of dormant space persistently intersecting a lived urban centre. A lively, sprawling city in cahoots with desolate urban scrubland, networked by Goliath motorways and a wide, quiet waterway. Glasgow could today afford any of its inhabitants the ‘Ballard experience’. We need not look far.

     

    In Concrete Island, Ballard ficitonalised a theory popular among geographers and social scientists of the time: that what surrounds us is constructed not only by architects and designers, but also by the individual consciousness we each possess. Maitland may well have been privileged enough to design the concrete thoroughfares and barracks we traverse and inhabit, but as he learns himself in horror, it is often the unplanned contact we have with the margins of both constructed space and our selves that emancipates us.