Margnification, by the conceptual art collective Akleriah, was a live street intervention that challenged the perception of the space in which the performance took place; as if the wind had blown away the sadness leaving nothing behind but the physical remnants of Margate.
Let’s change the rhythm of the clock! – Akleriah
Originally posted Aug 4, 2011 7:04 pm | view here
The airy mix of experimental and classical music represents the feeling of Margate; the sea with the seagulls and the half empty town, worn out cobbled streets and air of past glory, a decadent nostalgic feeling of what it might’ve been, of the ravishing past, of the emptiness now. As if the wind has blown away the sadness leaving nothing behind but the physical remnants, a monument to mankind’s triumphant moments.
Photographs by Bran Jones
The performers each read a book in English, translating as they recite, in their own language, sometimes singing traditional folk songs from their own country. The performers are tourists, reborn from another era, a happier time for Margate. In their flowery frocks and summer hats and English gentlemen attire, their abstracted sky-like makeup and hairstyles look particularly misplaced in modern Margate, however blending in well with the blue sky and the natural growth. Performers and musicians travel through the town, sightseeing, in their own world, as if they are still in the olden Margate, sometimes absorbed by their reading sometimes amused by the sights, sometimes they are brought into present by an odd passer-by.
The street performance ‘Margnification’ explores the decaying glory of Margate’s as a seaside resort, the less affluent area of Cliftonville and the facade-lift of the recent art gallery, Turner Contemporary.
The performance moves with the ‘tides of winds’ while it conceptually plays with high verses low paradigm of the street aura as its main premise of departure. Akleriah casts questions and interacts with instrumental mediums; be it foreign sounding voices, flute or violin accompanied with seagull calls or an unfamiliar radio station that challenges the perception and use of the space that it momentarily inhabits.
The piece uses notion of storytelling as a building block. Performers also relate to the objects already existent in local spaces as to the bearers of knowledge. As stories of past generations are communicated through word, sound or movement, bringing to life histories of places and its people. This knowledge is literally thrown as a ball in space, falling and waiting to bounce off a concrete surface and hence bring new possibilities or meanings for a translation for current generations to read, rediscover and rethink. Can an ‘Englishman’ become and feel as a ‘foreigner’ in their own land? How does a community react to ever-changing social-cultural-economic systems of places and spaces? Two lead performers translate William Shakespeare (Coriolanus) and Charles Darwin (On The Origin Of Species) into Czech and Russian languages and share this knowledge with locals and passer-bys. They evoke communal and general memory of possible lost times of past community or individuals that might, just subconsciously, be remembered from childhood or from the stories told by their grandparents, tales that survives generations.
As title itself suggests the performers are literally trying to look at the local area through a magnifying glass from above. To encourage people to see the hidden microscopic ‘invisible’ connections, endeavoring them to perceive and explore their surrounding environment anew, like never before. Maybe like a tourist or newcomer would, or perhaps, dwell back to the state between fantasy and reality, the time of childhood. To be magically transformed into its own reality of indefinite possibilities of their own selves.
Artist – Anna Kompaniets
We received some interesting reaction from the locals some spontaneously odd, some were intrigued and followed us on, some shocked, some amused. The more expecting audience met us at the Turner Contemporary gallery where the art-ready audience clustered and observed us more closely – the acoustics for music and singing were astonishing
My experience was like the experience of freedom that we feel on the seaside, the endless sea, the seagulls, the wind – this eternity of never-ending time, as if we are stuck in this second, as if the time stood still. It was very poetic and inspiring to connect with the locals, especially children, as they are innocent of the past history of their town. I really felt like a tourist who expected to see a beautiful seaside resort, instead accidentally travelling in a time machine and coming into another parallel world where things are upside down. I enjoyed how the music created by the performance got lost, mixed in with the music created by seagulls screaming and sounds of wind gusts and sea waves. Music became very natural, organic and own to Margate. The sound of Margate echoes in the video that was created of our performance.
I felt welcomed, challenged, inspired and touched while Margnificating. I will never forget the suspicious, almost serious wonder in the little girl’s eyes to who I knelt down to read in one of Clitonville’s more decaying streets. This coincided for me with the moment I had with an older gentleman sitting on a bench on the outskirts of Margate old town. He, as much as the little girl, did not understand a word I was saying but was answering me back with a joyful expression and laughing sparkly eyes while nodding his head to almost reassure me that he understands.
It was great performing and working with Akleriah -Anna, Lenka and Tony- on Saturday; their extravagance, excitement and confidence seemed contagious as we were released onto the streets of Cliftonville and Margate as strange, aristocratic alien-like creatures. We were, in a sense, an extreme type of tourist, testing the reactions of the public as we wondered the streets in awe: wide-eyed, made-up and dressed-up. Rather than communicating with the public through speech, I found that I answered dogs’ barks, children’s stares and pub heckles with my violin, with a placid stare and a strange confidence. As a generally quite shy person, I normally do not approach pub-goers in Margate or other strangers, but in the character of an Akleriah musician, I found that I was seeking out interactions with people on the street. I enjoyed the smiles of the people in shops as my alien self pressed its nose against windows and shuffled along, I enjoyed the strange looks and curious remarks, the car beeps and the numerous ‘why you dressed like that’s. The atmosphere of the performance was altered in the space of Turner Contemporary where an audience, in the traditional sense, seemed to form. I felt more like a performer and less like a ‘tourist’ in Turner and fulfilled an urge to make most of the acoustic and be watched in the centre of the space.
Although here I felt like a performer, my make-up and dress gave me a confidence different to the confidence I would normally feel in a classical music setting. Overall, an invigorating, fun and exciting experience through which the opportunity to interact with people I would not normally meet was presented to me in a playful and accessible way.
With the recent riots and disturbances around the U.K I felt a little apprehensive about being ‘exposed’ to the general public. I thought I would feel vulnerable walking around the streets playing my violin. In fact, I felt reassured and safe, together with the other performers, helpers and crew. The reactions I saw were all positive and most if not all smiled and took photos. I’ve never been involved in anything quite like Akleriah before and it was an utterly unique experience. The face makeup and costumes helped me to get into character and allowed me to relax and enjoy the public response. It was a great opportunity to be a part of moving sound art. Lovely day meeting lovely people.
Absolutely loved Saturday’s performance.
I started talking to one of the performers and received a blank response – As though in a state of hypnosis the performers were suddenly in character; sitting as if customers and complete strangers to each other, which was made all the more strange by their out of this world make-up and dress. The performance, starting this way, made me more aware of Moonbow’s true purpose; as a temporary intervention, where customers and audience become unwitting participants.
Entranced, we followed this strange melancholic troupe around some of the streets of Cliftonville to Margate and back. Cliftonville seems in the shadow of Margate at the moment and somehow the performance brought to Margate a little of its faded grandeur. The performance was something like a metaphysical band-aid gently stretched between the two places.
Back at Moonbow’s the performers came out of their hypnotic states but only once John had clapped his hands.
A truly beautiful performance.
Cast and Production
Anna Knompaniets & Lenka Horakova (Akleriah)
Kai Clear - Film
Jason Wen - Editor
Ginni Le Cook - Catering
Bill Cuthbertson - Security
Tony Birch by Kelvin Quinn
To learn more about Akleriah, visit www.akleriah.com