A strong and daring performance, utterly refreshing after the slick production of Brisbane Festival. My favourite kind of art in fact, just off the street, in an unassuming Queenslander with a fab history of rebellion.
Kristian Šantić is a rising star in the contemporary arts scene in Australia. his name crops up everywhere, in collabs, dancing, acting, directing. And it is because he is creating such rebellious and fresh work that everyone wants a piece.
The opening spectre of a painted back, which slowly expanded with micro-movements, oh-so slowly, to a become an otherworldly creature.
Black paint on bare skin, slowly the paint travels up the walls and to all the unpainted parts of the body. The slow reveal of the performer. For a long while, all we have is back, and horns, and shadows from hands. Beautifully articulated hands, that begin to weave a dark story.
The first look, the first eye contact; so alien, so out of this world. The strength of that reveal in this tiny room, we are all breathing together, but for one torturous moment breath was held.
Bull is a fantastical creature. I am inspired by my brain’s capacity for narrative, by my imaginations fervered attempts to articulate the plural tales before me. The pure force driving the body gave rise to a thousand storylines. Mythological creatures patched themselves together. Pan was present, Orpheus climbing from Hades, the horror and the cruelty of the Roman pantheon, the cold heart of Shizmu. A man in a cage, climbing to get out. The body that is frail that keeps on climbing. A creature is becoming.
And yet, every other viewer would have had their own unique vision. This is work that is transcendent, in that the narrative for Kristian is incredibly clear, the surety of his movements demonstrates that. But each watcher takes for themselves their own meaning.
What does it mean to perform undressed in an overexposed world? There is nothing gratuitous about this choice. The baring of flesh here has a rawness, a paring back of convention. The body becomes neutralised and conversely politicised when it acts against convention. It disengages from the regular enforcement of gender. A body that is not used as a tool becomes a weapon against crass gratuity. It becomes, once again, otherworldly.
The lighting was quite excellent. Simple, and yet, the tri-colour has the effect of making it almost appear like a living film, the drama of 60’s style lighting, a touch of art nouveau.
Kristian performed to a bespoke musical soundscape created by the supremely talented Anna Whitaker, in just four weeks prior to performance. It is this fluid, soaring, articulate soundtrack that creates the world for the Bull to inhabit.
A curious, unique and satisfying performance, from an artist you ought to be keeping tabs on.
Kristian Šantić | performer & creator
Birnam Wood | photography
Anna Whitaker | sound design
Caitlin Armstrong | costume design
Bull was performed to an intimate audience on Friday 6th October 2017. It was developed as part of a residency at House Conspiracy