Fringe Online 2022
Akiko Ono dances in three spaces with singular foci – we begin in an office with the title gestures as our physical guide takes us through some of the minute, yet significant gestures we may make in the context of a school/office style environment. We then find ourselves in a meditative state in a small carpet tiled black box as we have the inner monologues shown in physical presence. Finally, we have Beneath the Sea where Akiko Ono takes us on a very fluid piece in what appears like a modern office block entrance where we have that fluidity as our guide and our focus for the piece.
The three pieces have an unevenness about them only because the first piece – Gestures – is the least successful, partly because the soundscape is uneven and does tend to obscure the importance of some of the gestures being made. I particularly liked what I took to be a visual metaphor of our guide standing with their face to the wall, reminiscent of a naughty child within the confines of a restricted space where your every move may be judged. As such it is a clear piece of commentary upon Gibson’s affordance theory – that our behaviours and emotions are governed by the environment in which we find ourselves. Whilst it was trailed as a classroom, given the costume I therefore felt it more an office/secretary gestured piece but culturally I may have lost that significance.
The second piece – Medication – moves us into far more comfortably uncomfortable territory as the movements of the peace sought become the externalisation as I saw it, of the inner search for that peace. Here the setting and the soundscape took off. We were more engaged here and the piece knew what it was in terms of being filmed and within a very confined space. I loved the creative restrictions in which it was placed, and it led, I felt to a more rounded piece of work. The camera work was better, editing more in keeping with its medium and the message transcending the film it was.
It was the third piece – Beneath the Sea – which really did entrance and intrigue me. Here we seemed to be in the entrance of a modern office block with sculptures which may have seemed slightly out of place or part of a corporate push to acknowledge the place art plays in status, but Akiko Ono really worked their magic here. I watched it a few times just because the grace, poise and the fluidity of the movement abounded. I can forgive the reflection of the camera person at one point because it was not pretentious but cleverly affected by the environment and what it was. Again the soundscape and the filming added to its beauty.
What it was, was a lovely piece of theatre choreographed between Akiko Ono and Takako Segawa, with sculpture created by Tomoyo Hiraiwa. It pushed and I followed and given the global distance between audience and performer, that can be nothing but quite the achievement.