22.2 - 3.3 2001

SHUNT arches, london

with Gaëlle Bona, Ant Hampton and Silvia Mercuriali.

Objects by Britt Hatzius

Costumes by Odelia Lavie

A sort of science fiction.

[ZEROVILLE] took as it's inspiration a book called THE PLATO PAPERS by Peter Ackroyd and the film ALPHAVILLE by Jean-Luc Godard. Ackroyd's book begins with some quotes from the "past" -

All fallen dark and quiet, all gone down. Collapsophe.
- Joseph P, Diaries, 2299

We who survive, we scoured ones, in depths of dark dismay, call out of the Night of our World, gone as we knew it, as we know it. - London Hymn, c. 2326

So, we imagined the piece to be set in the "scoured" period around 2326 with a political atmosphere similar to ALPHAVILLE - poets being exectuted etc...

The audience - at great risk to themselves - have congregated under this railway arch to watch one woman [Silvia Mercuriali] and her "robot" assistant [Gaëlle Bona] perform various acts that have been long forgotten, and which help to keep their spirits alive.

The first scene, for example, involves her simply cutting open a melon and devouring the contents. This is followed up by a scene reminding them of the word "glitter" which has recently been outlawed and is now in danger of extinction.

"The World of Science was collapsing, but the divine consciousness of humanity had not yet asserted itself. All her labours lay in recording the manifest signs of dismay and wonder."

All is going smoothly until there is a "raid" - a riot policeman enters [Ant Hampton]. He's an idiotic figure, though, and is quickly 'subdued' and then hypnotised.

He becomes an extra tool for her, part of the performance; first simply as a body mass to throw around, but increasingly as a kind of question machine. Their arguments turn full circle and she traps them on their way round and cages them into the "show". She treads a fine line. There is a tension. The audience need this - without it, they will die.

The policeman at one point puts himself to the task of "wondering". He wonders why the audience are risking their lives to be here, in this damp arch. What are they looking for? He looks them all in the eye, and starts to make assumptions:

"Some of them want to be invisible.
They want controversial material.
They want a kind of baby-sitting potential.
They want a single dazzling teacher.
They want to share time with each other
They want your programming to fulfill their entertainment needs while considering the political atmosphere from which it is emerging.
They want to get beyond technology's captivating capabilities but they are still in favour of gathering to listen to distant, "invisible" voices.
They want children.
They want you to disseminate true or false questions in a quick, efficient way.
They want a dramatic increase."
<< One of many objects "on display". A salvaged, otherwise "extinct" example of egg cartons and the vapour they give off when they get old. [by Britt Hatzius]

The Robot maintains a quiet presence to the side. She is a practical and devoted assistant who helps write many of the titles for the scenes. << "likely collapse"

her thoughts, though, transend robotics...

"I think that the spirit acts on the body, breathes through it, transfigures it, veils it to make it fairer than it is. For what is flesh alone? What ... is flesh ... alone? You may see it and feel only disgust. You may see it in the gutter, drunken, or in the coffin, dead. The world's as full of flesh as a grocer's counter is of candles at the start of winter. But not until you've brought a candle home and lit it can it give you comfort. "

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