Yet to be Determined: Vulnerable violence

Yet to be determinedIt’s Gavin Krastin. We have no idea what to expect. What we have to see is Yet to be Determined.

Well no, that’s not quite true. We have some ideas: we know it’s likely to be just him. Probably naked, and likely to be uncomfortable. In a gently violent way.

Yet we still have no idea what it might be about. How disturbed we may be by watching someone make themselves so vulnerable. So vulnerable it hurts them. Physically.

We are to find out.

Framed from within the atrium of the Nun’s Chapel by the gothic arches of its main door, stands a thin man, a black bag over his head. His naked white flesh glares beneath an accusing light, skin goose pimpling in the midwinter cold, buttocks beginning to quiver.

But wait. Here’s something different. A man. In a suit. A tie. Wordlessly gives us instructions. Passes around the surgical gloves displayed on a tray. Not everyone accepts.

What proceeds from there is dependent on the surprisingly keen audience surrounding a naked body standing on black plastic sheeting and shivering under a hood.

The body is tarred and feathered by those who choose to wield power when given permission. There’s glitter involved, and loud noises. There is violence.

There are those who choose to be passive. But Gavin’s ahead of the game. In the situation he creates, withholding the exercise of the power he invites us to use is also a form of negative presence. Of spectatorship, its extreme end point being committing violence through neglect. Here positive violence, the choice to act, ensures the momentum he requires to act.

He’s also ahead of us in that whatever violence is likely to be inflicted on his body, he’s already done it, and far more imaginatively (and with far more care).

All permission is voided when the hood is removed, and the body becomes a person glittering in the sickly, sticky sparkling empty promises of materialism, of hedonism, of good times. He begins to dance, alone, flesh obscured, identity hidden beneath reflective detritus, and dances until he whirls, and whirls until he is giddy.

Once the needles are removed, the botox fails, the meds don’t work, the despair runs down his face in blood as he smiles angelically in the midst of this theatre of cruelty. We could even be mistaken in being persuaded its alright.

Yet to be Determined is on at the National Arts Festival tonight (Friday 6 July) at 6, and at 6 again tomorrow. Book HERE.

Credits: Conceived, directed and performed by Gavin Krastin, assisted by Jordan Pitt.

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