-by Kelly Beneforti
City Walk and Gorman House Arts Centre
Friday and Sunday March 21 and 23
Amidst the You Are Here independent publishing fair, Somebody’s Aunt perform their processional work Carrying Capacity in the courtyard of Gorman House Arts Centre. The group of Canberra women who together form Somebody’s Aunt are known for their use of public space in performance. They also presented Carrying Capacity at City Walk earlier in the week.
Carrying Capacity reflects on the relationship between the planet’s capacity to support us and our capacity to support it. The work is not overbearing in tone, but suggests a collective act of caring for the world in which we live.
A large sphere is the centre point of the performance, plastered with newspaper articles on climate change. It is carried into the courtyard by a single performer, whose mouth is taped shut, implying a muted planet. Her calm but resolute stance catches the attention of an audience who assemble on the grass or watch from afar as the fair continues.
The rest of the women form a line behind the sphere and a rhythmic soundscape by Helen Way is performed. A march begins, with repeated gestures that are expressive without being too dramatic. Impressions of fear, cold, protection and hope can be found in this sequence, which references the work Four Seasons, by German dance artist Pina Bausch, and the film that was made as an homage to her life. As the women break out of unison into movements that increase in intensity, we sense that the structure that we are observing, and the greater organism of the planet, is fracturing.
Movement is the basis of the work and the women perform as an organic and connected group. Especially beautiful is a scene in which they create an alternatively orbiting and clustering group.
Somebody’s Aunt make use of the theatrical element of having newspaper headlines read aloud by one of the women, voicing opinions from both sides of the climate change argument. The remaining women are in pairs, struggling with one another, while the sphere is notably absent. It is returned to the performance but shunned, as each of the women refuse to hold or take responsibility for it. This is the most damning message conveyed in the work.
From here we follow the journey of the sphere as it is passed through the group who create fluid, sculptural forms to support its fragile weight. It continues on through the hands of the audience in a final testament to shared awareness and action.
Carrying Capacity relies on metaphors and symbolism translated into the medium of movement. The more literal representations in the work are softened by the energies and textures of the moving bodies. The result is a performance that quietly weaves a determined presence into the events of the afternoon.
A VCA Dance graduate and 2013 ArtStart recipient, Kelly Beneforti performs, teaches and choreographs in diverse contexts across the country. Originally from Darwin, she continues to spend time in urban and remote parts of the Northern Territory, notably with Tracks Dance Company. Kelly also maintains professional relationships in Tasmania and Melbourne. In Canberra, Kelly participated in the Soft Landing program with QL2 and last year performed in No Place, an immersive installation work by independent artist Adelina Larsson. This is Kelly’s first experience in review writing, however, she was involved in You Are Here in 2013 as a performer.