Sometimes I get fixated on a performance. Deep down I think it’s because I'm a fan of the live experience itself, and like any fan, I get riled by the object of my affection as much as I cherish it. I imagine this enthusiasm for ‘liveness’ derives from my teenage years spent going to gigs, being part of a shared social event, waiting to receive that adrenaline rush that occurs once the music starts.
A few weeks ago I got a similar rush from New Noveta’s feral performance NO NAHADOU with DJ Aridtrax during the opening of Sidsel Meineche Hansen’s show ‘No Right Way 2 Cum’ at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. Rather than set in a designated space or on a stage, their durational performance unfurled in the round. New Noveta are London-based Keira Fox and Ellen Freed and NO NAHADOU was a non-specific physical struggle between the two. They ran amok grappling with one another, carving out their own space in and amongst the crowd in Hansen’s exhibition. Like many of the onlookers, I was frequently pushed aside and indirectly screamed at. This didn’t feel aggressive or confrontational though, we were just in the way. At one point, a plastic sheath looking like a colostomy bag, attached to the back of one of their flesh-coloured costumes, was scissored and a rancid fish stew spilled out onto the floor causing the nearest audience members to flee. Within this chaos, Fox and Freed attempted a futile act with an unmitigated urgency: trying to suspend lengths of bamboo to the gallery walls with string. All the while, a propulsive soundtrack played in the background. The stink of fish hung in the gallery afterwards and followed me around the next day.
To experience this exhilarating rush of excitement, laced with a palpable sense of fear, is something I’ve not felt at a live art event for a long time. In recent years much performance has shifted to the choreographic, favouring script and rehearsal over improvisation. New Noveta stands in stark contrast to this, and I’m keen to find out what lies behind this need for catharsis. Could this viscerality, this hysteria, be political? Is it a letting-go, a loss of self-control in opposition to the pressure of conformity – to capital? For now, I can’t wait until their next event.