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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The poet Hugo Ball once described his Dadaist movement thus: "I shall be reading poems that are meant to dispense with conventional language... For us, art is not an end in itself ... but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in." This dictum could very easily be applied toOpposition, the latest show from extraordinary Portsmouth-based performance artist Hannah Silva.

The hypnotic collage of words and phrases from David Cameron, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill and other sources including the weather forecast and, you feel certain, a manual for political spin-doctors might very well have come straight from the pen of a Dadaist.

Opposition has a powerful point to make about the artifice behind political debate in a TV- and Twitter-obsessed world. Just as insistent repetition is employed by advertisers and politicians to get their message across, Hannah Silva has subverted this technique brilliantly to create an astonishing neo-Dadaist performance for our times.

This work is radical, political, courageous. What is so especially remarkable is her linguistic and facial dexterity. And just for good measure, she suddenly dives off into the sound-world of Karlheinz Stockhausen, creating sounds with her mouth and then imitating them on her Irish tin whistle in a bizarre and no doubt unconscious recreation of that composer’s “Pole for two”. This is a virtuoso avant-garde performance of a virtuoso avant-garde text by a virtuoso avant-garde artist. Go to listen, marvel, participate. Go to be amazed. Just go.

- Craig Singer


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