V/DA & MHz production In association with Feral
VOID reimagines JG Ballard’s cult novel Concrete Island through the lens of a black female protagonist - staged as a meshing of experimental dance and abstract glitch video landscapes
Choreographer/ performer Mele Broomes
Performance direction / Costumes Bex Anson
Av/Set/Sound/lx Dav Bernard
WINNER OF TOTAL THEATRE AWARD IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE PLACE
EDINBURGH FRINGE 2018
★★★★★ Broadway Baby
★★★★★ The Wee Review
★★★★ The Guardian
★★★★ British Theatre Guide
★★★★ Fest Mag
★★★★ The ListTrailer
Blending typically Ballardian themes of liminal spaces and urban paranoia with contemporary theories from radical identity studies, Mele Broomes performs risk taking choreography to the backdrop of an industrial soundscape
Although rooted in contemporary dance practice, the piece is a truly collaborative and interdisciplinary work co-created by Broomes alongside AV Designer Dav Bernard and Scenic Director Bex Anson. Focused on the interplay between acrobatic physical performance and reactive projected imagery, VOID is the boiling point of the collaborators' mutual interest in creating genre pushing work that intersects visual design, sonic art, dance and social politics in innovative ways.
The creative team utilised Ballard’s Concrete Island as a jumping off point to inform the choreographic and visual thematics of their collaboration. Ballard’s original novel charts the tale of an architect who crashes his jaguar off a motorway embankment and becomes stranded on a traffic island, subsequently having to fight for his survival with the doomed terrain as a mirror of his own psychosis.
Used as a parallel text, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (by F. Moten & S. Harney) -a manifesto for self organisation and non-compliance– is used to provide a new reading of Concrete Island's waste ground into a space of new possibilities and resistance, reflecting on Maroon communities throughout history.
AS WE DRIVE ACROSS A MOTORWAY INTERSECTION, WE GLIMPSE TRIANGLES OF WASTE GROUND SCREENED OFF BY A STEEP EMBANKMENTS. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF, BY SOME FREAK MISCHANCE, WE SUFFERED A BLOW-OUT AND PLUNGED OVER THE GUARD-RAIL ONTO A FORGOTTEN ISLAND OF RUBBLE AND WEEDS, OUT OF SIGHT OF THE SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS?
MAROONED ON A TRAFFIC ISLAND, WE CAN TYRANNISE OURSELVES, TEST OUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES, PERHAPS COME TO TERMS WITH ASPECTS OF OUR CHARACTERS TO WHICH WE HAVE ALWAYS CLOSED OUR EYES .”
CONCRETE ISLAND INTRODUCTION 
IN ORDER TO BRING COLONIALISM TO AN END, ONE DOES NOT SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER, ONE HAS TO INHABIT THE CRAZY, NONSENSICAL, RANTING LANGUAGE OF THE OTHER, THE OTHER WHO HAS BEEN RENDERED A NONENTITY BY COLONIALISM. INDEED, BLACKNESS, IS THE WILLINGNESS TO BE IN THE SPACE THAT HAS BEEN ABANDONED BY COLONIALISM, BY RULE, BY ORDER"
J. HALBERSTAM, S.HARNEY & F.MOTEN
FUGITIVE PLANNING & BLACK STUDY
Trained as a gymnast, Mele Broomes’ work experiments with the extremities of movement and voice whilst investigating contemporary practice of African Diasporic dance, notably as one of the lead artists of Project X. Her recent show GRIN inverts the continued colonial narratives of black bodies and Caribbean dance styles. VOID continues this exploration by subverting Ballard's cult classic with a performance that combines skillfully crafted choreography and physical feats.
For several years Dav Bernard (AV Designer) has been exploring reactive and immersive video environments through his visual arts practice and conceived a video system for VOID that produces constantly evolving (generative) video compositions which can be manipulated live to respond to the performer's choreography. The resulting visual grammar is stylish yet chaotic and echoes both the book's architectural landscape and the character's existential dilemma.
Ballard's writing style and its association with experimental literature, postmodernism and urban dystopia also inspired the approach to the piece's sonic palette which merges experimental noise, glitch and industrial, as well as softer naturalistic production methods (like field recordings) to create a cinematic atmosphere.
Site Specific Under the M74 Motorway
Part of Dance International Glasgow DIG
VOID was presented as a site-specific piece under the M74 in 2017, as were many of MHz previous projects, making a real life connection between the work and the collaborators' involvement with autonomous zonesThis unique interplay between experimental dance, AV design and social politics creates a multi-textured reimagining of Ballard’s novel which invites audiences to reconsider the parameters of contemporary dance
MORE INFO http://www.void.org.uk/