Wild card series at Sadler’s Wells aims to support and show experimental and multidisciplinary work. This time the night was curated by Stefan Jovanović, an artist that arrive to performance making with a background in architecture.
For this and more reasons, I was pretty excited at the very beginning of the night. Being welcomed by the performers in their fashionable crafted costumes, clowny makeup and extravagant, glittery high heels set up an intriguing prologue to the evening. Walking down as if entering a misty cave with a gorgeous background waltz played live by Domenico Angarano and sang by Bliss Carmxn.
Audience members were then asked to dance in the space and learn the choreography of the steps. The piece then unfolded by sections and the visual complexity increased as more and more elements were added to the pot. And I mean a lot: from masks to a wide range of music and singing, to the costume designer being onstage dress and makeup on, to big metal rocking wotsits and sculptures, to ironing a shirt while pretending to have a ‘post talk show’ or checking in with the performers…. and also a dog. I am not sure when it happened that my excitement started to dilute and began to transform in confusion and a pinch of disappointment. Somewhere between the simulation of a dance class, and the rumba duet between a masked performer and the costume set.
All these overlapped vignettes were distracting each other, and it’s not that we as spectators had the agency of choosing what to see and experience. Even though the whole evening had this idea of blurring the edges between acting and reality, between the performers and the spectators, the frame and restrictions were really solid. We were spectators, even if there were some moments where we were able, if we wanted, to learn some waltz steps, for the rest of the evening there was not other plausible option than to be seated on the edges of the space. So, in that sense, the performance was pretty conventional. My role as a spectator was passive; was to seat, watch and applaud.
At this point I feel I need to acknowledge all the artists and artisans involved in this project, whose work is certainly valuable. Especially the performers, whose backgrounds, skills and presences are as varied as interesting. Brave performers, doing I guess, what they were asked to do. But then, what do you do with all of that? How do you paste all that together? It is like all your ingredients were there for you to make a great meal. How do you make something out with all that potential? With all those possibilities?
There were beautiful moments, interesting ones that took my attention. Like when some of the performers were lying on the floor avoiding to be touched by an aesthetical sculpture. Or an energetic sensorial solo that surrounded the space. Unfortunately, those moments got eaten by everything else.
Following the logic of “less is more”, we can say that for Jovanović’s Constellations much more ended up being almost nothing. I see how this work can be filtered, edited, decanted and reach its full potential.
Reviewed at Sadler’s Wells on 6h of June