Dancing to a new ditty
Having done a bit of hip-hop and contemporary dance in his younger days, it’s perhaps no surprise that London-based artist Eddie Peake’s new commission to fill the the Barbican’s Curve Gallery is full of movement. Tunnels, stairs and sudden corners draw you ever onwards and there’s a constant sense of things happening elsewhere.
Even the static objects scattered amidst the maze are redolent of propulsion – gaudily painted whalebones shaped like propellers and lots of cut-out perspex bears in various walking and playing states. Furthermore, some of the walls have holes smashed through them as though Hulk had come to view and got really angry at what he saw.
What ties all the disparate, sexually suggestive elements together though are two naked (apart from cutesy white trainers) male dancers. They stretch, they preen, they drill themselves through a repeated half-hour loop of movement that makes full use of the elongated gallery space. Often they’re aping what’s happening on monitors around the installation, at other times they’re staring longingly into spectators’ eyes as they caress themselves. It’s in turns funny and uncomfortable but it’s never predictable.
They’re reflecting the tone of the whole exhibition. It’s playful in its bright colours and blatant sexuality but there’s also an underlying pain displayed in the long graffiti scrawl that stretches the entire gallery relaying the tale of a woman who did her own caesarean section.
Rather like a fish in an aquarium that won’t come out from behind its rock, there’s also a female roller skater who is usually found hiding behind partitions from where she cautiously watches spectators. I don’t why she’s watching us but then why are we watching her? Likewise, the whole exhibition calls into question exactly who’s in charge here. The artist,, the audience or the performers?
The Forever Loop is not a pretty aesthetic. It’s deliberately ramshackle in its approach but it keeps you guessing and is never dull. It’s also free and runs until 10 January 2016. So, as long as you don’t mind the sound of willies flapping about, it’s definitely worth popping in if you’re in the area.