Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Edinburgh 2009 Reviews


If you've ever heard a song on the radio that you feel you already know, or watched a film that seems familiar in its themes, then chances are that the idea has been appropriated from another source. If this is done without the consensus of the work's original author it could be termed plagiarism, though this is not always easy to prove. In this show Richard DeDomenici attempts to unravel the question of whether anything is original anymore whilst settling a few scores on his own thwarted ambitions. Not that revenge is a motivating factor in this shows premise, instead DeDomenici tries to ignite our senses in deriving what we recognise as familiar from other sources. This he does whilst providing conceptual/performance art with a gravitas that it often doesn’t - sometimes deservedly - receive.

Opening with DeDomenici singing the Spice Girls' ‘Mama’ over a backing track of The Human League’s ‘Human’, a convincing argument is offered as to the former's undisputed reliance on the latter. As conceptual art always benefits from having the artist on hand to explain the concept, DeDomenici runs the audience through a selection of his attempts to break into mainstream markets with what he considers his original ideas. Included in this are his belief that the only way that Britain could win Eurovision is with a boy-band consisting solely of immigrants. Meanwhile the footage of him appropriating the costume and torch of the Beijing torch runner, then running through the streets of London minutes ahead, is especially amusing and indicative of his subversive nature. Further highlights in this show - though it is not a show in any traditional sense - include his Unattended Baggage in Berlin performance, which reveals far more than the obvious reactions.

Plagiarismo! is a compelling work and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It resembles a sophisticated game of Trivial Pursuits and raises questions and issues that will stay with you long after its conclusion. Although it is more of a lecture than a show, it is one that will stimulate conversation and debate for days afterwards - as art should. In a cultural stasis where the waste of sperm and egg that is Peter Andre is lauded as an artist that people want to listen to, it is a crime that DeDomenici - whose persona hinges on the anti-star though he considers himself a brand - remains virtually unknown outside his own sphere. This is a show that comes highly recommended, so if you have a favourite song, band, book or film that you feel has been ripped off, only to languish in obscurity, whilst a more commercial, diluted version piles up the coffers, then let DeDomenici know. He can sympathise.

David Marren, All The Festivals

Plane Food Café 

Plane Food Café is that unusual concept a wacky idea that actually works due to being well conceived in its principles. Having no idea prior to my arrival what to expect I was mildly surprised to be ushered into the flight cabin of an aeroplane. Constructed from actual parts of a 1982 737 the journey was now set to begin.

After being seated in our chairs and adorned in our safety blanket the ritual of in-flight safety then proceeded to take place. These formalities out of the way, lunch orders were taken-for real - and we were then treated to an in-flight information film. Without giving too much away this was dryly humorous whilst highly informative. This work operates on one level as a conceptual style comedy and on another as a serious piece of work that draws attention to highly sensitive and important environmental issues. It does this successfully by never overstating any point to the stage where the audience feels it is brow-beaten.

The only thing that was lacking on this flight was a substantial number of other passengers but the premise indicates that on a busier schedule it has the possibility of really flying high. The audiences contributions being crucial and naturally drawn out, it is a relief there is no haranguing or lambasting to draw a response or garner a cheap laugh.

Plane Food Café then is a highly developed concept that succeeds in its objectives of making its audience ponder their own contribution to the decline of our environment. There are three flights daily and the half-hour passes without a hint of turbulence. Although you may not get to join the Mile High Club you will get food for thought as well as food to eat - not haute cuisine but as palatable as much fare passing muster in various cafes around town. So I suggest you grab some hand luggage, tender your boarding pass and step on board.

David Marren, All The Festivals.