(R)eply, (E)rase, (C)opy
Solo performance by Jessica Levy, film/video by Nick Tandavanitj
Plus preceding Video Lecture "The Body Immersion" and After Show Discussion
Sunday 5 July 1998, 7pm
Scheduled for 7pm, the video lecture didn't start until around 20 minutes later. Supported by projected video excepts, Ghislaine Boddington gave an informed talk on the subject of how the body is being used in conjunction with digital media in live performance. The interplay of organic, flesh-and-blood human being with manufactured, metal-and-silicon electronic machine is an important theme for electronic performance artists. At the end of the talk, we were told to return to the bar.
After a delay due to technical problems, the 20 or so audience members were ushered in to the theatre a second time. The theme of "The Body" was announced loud and clear as we took our seats, with Jessica standing naked in the middle of the performance space, arms outstretched, her hands holding two ropes connected to the ceiling.
A cacophony of sounds, voices and random projected images ensued, while she stood, seemingly trapped, as if suspended in an isolation tank, body and imagination set free.
This section complete, she let go of the ropes and dressed in a nurse's outfit. With the deranged nature of the imagery, there was a symbolism in the main protagonist playing the role of both nurse and patient.
Retention of memory became the issue as she engaged in a loud repetitive question and answer dialogue with film/video operator Nick Tandavanitj on the subject of "What did you have for breakfast?" With continued repetition, the words seemed to lose their meaning, and memories became confused.
She did a style of dance and body movement which she later described as "panic choreography", expressing turmoil and confusion. More random images, conversations and sounds followed. She had a dialogue with her own recorded voice - like an exchange between psychiatrist and patient. She couldn't keep up with the tape and improvised.
Random and confusing actions, projections and sounds continued - too many to take in all at once. Captured by a video camera, we saw a live close-up of her kissing a toy frog. Later she crouched in a Wendy house, while film excerpts flashed on the screen. At all times the performance was full of sound, movement and animation. Jessica Levy has a powerful physical and dramatic presence.
The ending was sudden - a smile and a bowing posture told us the performance had finished. The tiny audience clapped enthusiastically.
Afterwards, the Jessica and Nick came onto the stage for a post-performance discussion, moderated by Ghislaine. It was interesting to hear the perspective of Jessica herself. (R)ecord (E)rase (C)opy had evolved from a summer school at Dartington College of Arts and is the product of a long evolution. It was inspired by a feeling of discord from Internet chatrooms "I'm presenting what I'm taking in from the chatroom, how it's fed into me", she said. In the Wendy house, she should have used an infra-red mini-cam to project herself onto the screen, but it wasn't working. She got up and gave a quick demonstration.
You don't normally get the opportunity of talking to the stars after a film or play, this gave an element of intimacy and a feeling of being one of a privileged few. As various bits of the performance were talked about, I felt like I wanted to see it "again, again", Teletubbies-style, but I'll have to wait until the 19th of September 1998 at the ARNOLFINI, Bristol for the next performance.
It's a pity that so few people were here to witness something so stimulating, in every sense, and like all the Green Room events, it was free. It looked fun, and I wanted to have a go at it myself, though if I ever do, I won't be taking my clothes off!