Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Discourse on where we are now – and where we are going, unfolds in a powerful wordless narrative.
‘No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth’s diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.’
So wrote William Wordsworth in his Lyrical Ballads.
These evocative words came to mind after leaving this extraordinary show put together by Steve Salembier and photographer Charlotte Bouckaert and beautifully lit and technically produced by Christoph Donse with sound by Duncan Speakman.
Architectural models and black and white photography – save for some wonderful moments of green – are projected on a large screen to evoke our urban civilisation. The echoing of steps in soulless buildings; the wind whipping around the tower blocks, the babbling of people going about their business are all artfully conjured by the soundscape. The images are documented by Bouckaert’s probing camera. What a photographer Bouckaert is – she pulls out all the f-stops. These images are straight from the pages of Architectural Review. The models mean she can access all areas. There are angles and perspectives that a real building would never allow – so we are treated to the familiar becoming unfamiliar. She moves well too, like a dancer she vogues as she lies on the floor or crouches to get the perfect shot. Steve, the architect, adjusts and arranges the models, sets up new photo shoots and plays an evocative electric guitar in his down time. The photos seem so authentic, you start to understand why conspiracy theorists thought those moon shots were faked.
As the narrative unfolds, a sinister tone develops. Is Bouckaert working for the Stasi? Destruction follows. A sophisticated version of building a sandcastle and then wrecking it. 9:11, Syria – a rubble strewn, dust covered empty pool tells it all. The soundtrack takes us inside the devil.
When the dust settles, nature, as it surely will, takes hold. Our civilisation will fall and it will be buried. The photos, now use sand and grit to magically transport us to marshlands, grey still beaches at low tide, glaciers and clouds. Hence Wordsworth. Lyrical work. Astounding.
The packed audience gave the architects of this mesmerising work two curtain calls and cheers of delight. We might have stood if we hadn’t been knocked back in our seats by the sheer beauty of it all. A metaphysical magic show for grown-ups. Serious play. Made with compassion and love. Snap it up.