Sloans Grand Ballroom, Glasgow
“The point for me is not to expect perfumery to take its place in some nice, reliable, rational world order, but to expect everything else to become like perfume.”
Brian Eno – Scents and Sensibility Details Magazine, July 1992.
Urlibido was a cabaret-style night, curated and produced by Sarah Lowndes with Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth and co-produced with Katie Nicoll for the Open Glasgow section of Glasgow International 2010.
This one–off event was staged in the evocative eighteenth century setting of Sloans Grand Ballroom. Live events included a new performance work by Shelly Nadashi, called Affectionate Still, built around a few still objects, a puppet and a live performer, which examined the possibility of investing still objects with a soul and a will, and how these objects may then affect the performer. There was also be a live performance by Susie Green inspired by the visions of Hildegard von Bingen, and new collaborative musical compositions by Cara Tolmie and Kimberley O’Neill using song, sampled sound and live performance. The ballroom was re-imagined through projected images of faces made up in 1920 and 30s period styles by make-up artist Morag Ross. Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth’s An Infusion of the Evening Air combined audience, performers, stage, seating, tables, curtains and lighting, rendering the mise-en-scène the material of the work. Live camera feeds heightened a sensual awareness of the staging of the event, re-framing the cabaret; a table acting as a stage, the stage performing as a spotlight, the spotlight functioning as ambient light, the performers and audience the subjects of a work created and re-presented live.
Kim Coleman and Jenny Hogarth’s collaborative work often uses video and light. They employ light specifically as a material to create immersive installations and sculptural objects. Their performances extend the collaborative relationship further, involving others who become essential to the execution of works, bringing spontaneity and improvisation to staged events.
Susie Green works in a variety of media, with a grounding in sculpture. She completed an MA at Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2008, and at the time of the project lived in Newcastle upon Tyne. ‘I am interested in the fantasy, glamour, and otherworldliness that can be found in, and added to, everyday life. I am intrigued by momentary transcendence and how we can get out of ourselves.’
Shelly Nadashi’s work is grounded in the live art practices she studied at The School for Visual Theatre in Israel, prior to moving to Glasgow in 2007 to live and work for a time. Her practice remains multi-disciplinary, and includes video making, live performances, sound design, puppetry and written texts.
The artist filmmaker Kimberley O’Neill was born in 1982 in Bellshill, Scotland and at the time of the project was based in London. Her practice spans film & video, sound and drawing. O’Neill says, ‘My work looks at the human desire to relate to the other, examining the individual within personal relationships, in social contexts and interacting with their environment. […] My video works and drawings focus on the body, and the space it inhabits, in moments of transformation and spectacle. Depicting individuals declaring themselves autonomous from society.’ O’Neill collaborated with Cara Tolmie to create new musical compositions for Urlibido.
Morag Ross is a leader in the field of on-screen make-up, who studied art and design at Glasgow School of Art and began her career working for BBC London. Her numerous credits include the classic Derek Jarman films Caravaggio (1986), Aria (1987) and Edward II (1991). Since she has affected many acclaimed make-up transformations, including the make up for Neil Jordan’s movie The Crying Game (1992) in which the male actor Jaye Davidson played someone who appeared to be female, and Sally Potter’s Orlando (1993), where Tilda Swinton plays a man for part of the movie. She also did the make-up and hair for Cate Blanchett to play Bob Dylan in Todd Haynes I’m Not There (2007). Her numerous other credits include Charlotte Gray (2001), The Aviator (2004) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007). In 2008 she was awarded a BAFTA Scotland Award for Craft (In Memory of Robert McCann) and in 2004 she won the BAFTA Film Make-Up and Hair Award.
Cara Tolmie works with video, performance, sound, text and object. From 2006 to 2008 she was Secretary and Committee Member of Glasgow’s artist-run Transmission Gallery. Her exhibitions include: The Boethian Slip, Generator Projects, Dundee (2008), Die show im Oktober Transmission Gallery, Glasgow (2009) and Grey Matter, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh (2009). Tolmie was selected as one of the eight LUX Associate Artists for its 2009/10 programme. Tolmie collaborated with Kimberley O’Neill to create new musical compositions for Urlibido.
Martin Vincent, “Open Sea”, blog commissioned by Axisweb.org
For weeks it seems I’ve been seeing Shelly Nadashi carrying that table around. She brings it into the CCA, and then the next day I see her carrying it again along Sauchiehall Street. An insignificant table – oblong, smaller than coffee table sized, too thinly proportioned, somewhat fragile-looking.
Thursday night, and I’m about to find out what it is for. Sloans is an 18th century bar in Argyll Arcade – three floors of mahogany and marble topped off by the vaulted ceiling of the Grand Ballroom. Good for wedding receptions and evenings of decadent experimental high art cabaret entertainment, such as is happening this evening under the title ‘Urlibido – a Night of Magic’.
This is yet another occasion of multi-layered credits and overlapping performance. Part of the ‘Open Glasgow’ section of GI, curated and produced by Sarah Lowndes and Katie Nicoll (under the banner ‘Three Blows’) with Kim Coleman & Jenny Hogarth. The latter duo are largely responsible for projections, settings, curtains, lightings and the generally disconcerting sense that at any time the place you are standing can be transformed from quiet corner to spot-lit centre-stage.
We’ve queued up the stairs and had our hands stamped by the curator, performances begin with Cara Tolmie and Kimberley O’Neill…
I saw Cara Tolmie perform a week previously at the GI opening at Tramway. She had a microphone and one of those pedals that loops what you’ve just sung. Beginning with a simple low chant, she walked in a circle and pressed the pedal at each revolution, ‘The story we endure/knows nothing of us…’ the vocal layers built gently, melodies and harmonies overlaid, higher and higher up the range to an exhilarating soprano crescendo. Quite a vocal talent – which is not something you’re encouraged to expect in an art context. ‘The end is a tumultuous noise’ it was called.
…at the piano and various bells and percussion. There’s a big transparent curtain down the middle of the room, which you’re not supposed to disturb because there’ll be projections on it. But the place is rammed and hard to navigate, with some folk safely ensconced at round tables that the rest of us have to walk between and a circular stage that no one will perform on.
Susie Green takes a position in front of the central curtain and begins a routine of dramatic dance moves whose gestures follow (or seem to invoke) light projections – it’s inspired by the visions of Hildegard von Bingen and is, rather spookily, just as you would imagine this kind of thing would be.
Through the evening Tolmie and O’Neill pop up in different parts of the room, and even on the stairs – visible in the room on moving projections, it’s an all-singing all-dancing affair. Then there’s that table.
Now sat on top of another table, and with objects upon the top and a puppet standing behind it. The proportions make perfect sense now – it’s a scale model. Shelly Nadashi stands behind the puppet, and the performance is a revelation. After a series of gestural movements which draw our attention and allow a slight trance to descend upon the room, she holds the puppet by the back of its head and gives it voice as it disdainfully examines the objects laid out before it, which end up being flung across the room or swept onto the floor. It’s a bleak diatribe with lines I want to remember but which are themselves swept away as Nadashi’s malcontented marionette wrestles with corporeality, love and humanity in the context of twentieth century art and war. It’s relentless and pretty scary and funny too (especially when the artist cracks herself up with a topical line about cannibalism at the airport.)
Nadashi trained at the School for Visual Theatre in Israel, she knows exactly what she’s doing and we’re all a bit stunned at what we’ve witnessed.
All photographs of Urlibido by Gary Gordon.
Urlibido: A Night of Magic was funded by the Scottish Arts Council through the Open Glasgow initiative for Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art. ‘Open Glasgow’ is a new initiative for Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art which aims to discover ambitious and imaginative artists’ projects, conceived specifically for the city during Festival time.
With additional support from Schloss Bröllin and The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.