All That Is Wrong (Plymouth)
Belgian youngsters Ontroerend Goed are that in-your-face, push-the-boundaries group who, love ‘em or hate ‘em, leave a little something in the audience psyche – even in their last, completely different, breathtaking piece A History Of Everything.
But not with their latest performance art-like offering All That Is Wrong.
Writer and performer Koba Ryckewaert is a talented but typical 18-year-old, full of angst and outrage at the world’s wrongness but her outpourings can be suffered at home - with the comfort of a g&t and squishy cushions – by each of us with our own teenagers rather than pay some £13.00 for a hard seat.
I do not want to knock the worthiness of that naïve awakening to all that is wrong about our existence and the connections between the mundane and the global but really do not need to spend an hour in darkness watching almost mute chalk scribblings (although very impressive upside down writing particularly in a second language).
A plain set with black floor cloth and backdrop boasts only a laptop, projectors and lights plus a large number of blackboards which, presumably to break the monotony, are fixed together in front of us rather than being put in place before the start.
Starting out with projected images of protests around the world, Ryckewaert then takes centre stage and, in the semi darkness and with the odd prompt from companion Zach Hatch (is that a wry nod to the fact that at 18 ideas are not necessarily fully formed and need direction?), she begins to write, in a studied stream of consciousness, a word association ‘mind map’.
At the centre, of course is ‘I’ and links to her family members and notes about herself: ie skinny not anorexic; and that expands to encompass the whole world and its ills broken only by occasional soundbites from stock market traders, torture victims and the like or Hatch picking out, for some obscure reason, in metal letters what he seemingly chooses to be the key words – war, power etc.
Hoisted aloft, photographed and printed as keepsakes for the dozing audience, the graffiti-like work of art is then considered by Ryckewaert in the piece’s most poignant moments as she ticks the boycotts that she can manage – Nike, Shell and Starbucks and just maybe Apple – in her gallant efforts to make a change.
Too self-indulgent and banal for my liking, and nothing fresh to take home with me – I’ve got three of my own having the same crises and pedestrian outrages.