The Magical Music of Harry Potter

Art Review: Lou Lou Sainsbury at Nottingham Contemporary

22 August 19 words: Adrian Shaw
photos: Lou Lou Sainsbury, 1667: Not Alive Just Living

She presented her new live performance and video work 1667: Not Alive, Just Living.

This was a multi-media, only once occurring, performance-art piece. It had an electronic assembly, plus Rosa, a strings musician on a ‘Gut Bucket’ (an electro-T-chest ‘base’ with single string, and Cedric on drums. The stage was arranged with a background white furry rug plus a similar one at the front. The artist was wearing a boar’s head while a second boar’s head lies on the front rug.

A song about a young boy who is disturbed/mentally ill, was performed in the English Folk tradition. The boy is ‘cured’ by an injection of lamb’s blood, representing innocence, perhaps a spiritual/Christian reference, potentially to ‘the Blood of the Lamb’. The volume and dissonance of the performance increased, with overlapping verbal/musical strands, a cacophony overlaying and underpinning the visualisation and noise of strife. In the background, to one side of the performance-space, a video film played (with the sound and visual ‘interference’ of a person walking in continuous circle talking) of the cycles of nature and the background existence of our fellow creatures on Planet Earth.

The artist - representing humankind both male and female - rolled over the landscape in brutish fashion (here Boar-like), writhing as the soundtrack increases in volume, complexity and density, in total rejection of care and love for our planet. On the screen, the words of destruction and recovery clashed in turn. The crescendo reached as the artist - humankind personified with male dominating the female/nature - beat the ground/earth with their staff and assaulted the animal (skins), writing on and tearing at it. The blood poured forth from out of the ‘Earth’, covering the attacker’s body as they collapsed. 

The message of the performance was clear. We cannot keep ignoring our suicide and murder of ourselves and our fellow life-forms on our only home. We will push and destroy until there is no recovery one day. Like the performers only got one crack at their performance, so might we in reality.

Lou Lou Sainsbury performed on Thursday 8 August 2019