Creation (Pictures for Dorian)

Gob Squad

Wednesday 22nd May, 8pm

Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts

An ‘artist’ sketches a member of the audience. He shows us a triangle. This will be the organising motif of Creation, as it investigates the reflexive relationships within various triads: artist/artwork/audience; youth/maturity/old age; desire/power/illusion.

Drawing upon Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and displaying debts to Derek Jarman and the Italian auteur Pasolini in the use of anachronistic combinations of costume, of floral garlands (depicting innocence and idealised beauty) and of the imagery and postures of Renaissance painting, Gob Squad lead us through a conversational analysis of the conventions of beauty, the allure of youth, the vanity and compulsion driving artists to create works that reflect upon the human condition as they also satisfy the need to be ‘seen’ and, further, the need to see oneself being seen.

Some shows work better in the memory, and this is one. At times more of a lecture or a drama school workshop, Creation’s self-consciousness is sometimes obvious and degree-level ‘meta’, irritating and repetitive. At other times it delivers real pathos: an ‘artist’, surrounded by three semi-transparent mirrors (video cameras also project a palimpsest of faces on the back wall) interviews younger and older performers – projections of youth and old age – asking them what they fear most, what memories they hold dear. Realising that youth is gone, welcoming impending old age with a degree of serenity, the artist accepts that ‘now’ is all she has, and that while her desire to perform remains, she knows the vitality and vigour of the artistic impulse.

The last image is haunting. A ‘body’ who has hitherto been treated as an object speaks, invokes his own ‘memory of dance’ and leaves us imagining him as a younger man in a performance we will never witness. In that sign-off we recognise countless incommunicable memories of our own.

Reviewed by: Simon Murnau