‘Another Other’ by Chamber Made Opera is another foray into the realm of experimental art-making for which this Melbourne-based collective are renown. This show gives you a taste of what it might have felt to live in post-WWI Germany before the advent of Nazism. It feels as if you were at an original Bauhaus performance or in an early 20th century Dada happening.
A combination of opera, film, sound art and installation, all constructed before your eyes, ‘Another Other’ is based on a re-reading of Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona (which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016). You feel you could be in Berlin, New York, or Eastern Europe. There is a sense of the past haunting the present, the inevitability of social history constraining human encounters, and the power of nationalism to haunt private lives.
In the foyer, you pass by what seems like a garbage bag-encased cadaver, faceless and unknowable, with a loud ticking sound pulsating out of its mass, leading you into the central motif of the aural landscape to come – time, weather, man in nature, repetition, and constraint.
Entering the cavernous ‘dark box’ space of the Meat Market, you are plunged into a large rectangular space, edged with stall booths where meat wholesalers would formerly prepare their raw product for sale. Original Victorian cobblestones lie under your feet and add to the dark sense of history that this heritage space allows, reflecting the sense of an inescapable past communicated in the work.
A split audience of around 40, seated at opposite ends around a central laboratory incubator space. Sheathed in cream mesh, it houses the four musicians/artists who operate their instruments and technology to produce the sonic and visual output.
The compositions ranges from live spoken word, instrument amplification, screen sound samples, and everyday sound grabs, and is thrilling to watch being constructed for us live. The performance engenders a meditative trancelike state and audience members were engrossed.
With an overall aesthetic palette of black, white and grey, there is a dramatic sense of impending doom or confinement to the work, whether in the film relationship observed or the artists’ workspace. A sense of impossible escape emanated from both the venue and the heightened volume of the soundscape. There was a feeling of what it might have been like to be confined in a space like a military camp in a theatre of war.
With sonic saturation being a central premise, the audience experienced both pleasure in losing the conscious self to the aural authority of the soundscape, as well as terror and fear. This is the role art like this plays in taking us to such places.
This darkly creative theatrical experience is delivered by the hands of an assured, high art ensemble of international regard. It is an entertaining assemblage of live composition paying homage to the seminal avant- garde director, Bergman.
The expert aural meditation on the source material is electrifyingly conveyed through film, site and composition. It is a thrill to be exposed to work of such deep intent in our local setting.
Dancemindwork is a performing arts graduate who loves unique theatre in alternate spaces which builds community.