Interviews

31/10/2013

UK premiere of Hofesh Shechter's Sun


Right from the faux naive start, Hofesh Shechter's latest production Sun is funny, stomping gracefully along the confusing line between funny-ha-ha and funny-funny. It reminds me of the surreal humour of artist David Shrigley, and the intense excruciating cringe comedy of Todd Solondz or Julia Davis. It’s one massive joke with no punchline.

For me, the running joke is representation. The impossibility of being able to speak for another group of people, that any one genre/style/race is superior to another, that to compare them or segregate everything to a simplistic, singular definition or interpretation is doomed to surreal hilarity, beautiful farce and at one point, horrible, maniacal laughter. Just before you can make a sweeping generalisation about imperialism, Shechter pulls the oriental rug from under your feet.

As an audience, we are mocked relentlessly (particularly the fourth wall shattering screams from the front row), as Sun frequently flicks two fingers at anyone searching for explicit coherent meaning. We’re given some very loaded imagery - the big bad wolf, the British colonial hunter, the hoodie - all in two dimensional form, handled both elegantly and deliberately clumsily. Then there’s musically abrupt changes between classical pomp and circumstance, white noise, middle eastern ‘dum tek ka’ rhythms and the teenage kicks of Rage Against The Machine. And then on top of all this there is a melange of dancing styles and costumes. I don't know enough about contemporary (or classical, no one is safe) dance to able to pin-point all the subtle pastiches or parodies but it doesn't matter - it’s all Hofeshesque if that’s a word yet.

I loved it, in all it's confusing, messy glory. I left feeling elated and drained, after being emotionally toyed with for so long. The final sequence climaxes with a split second hanging; you have barely enough time to see if it's a young hooded artist or a native american, representing genocide or Shechter’s own career suicide. Who knows. At the reception afterwards, the person who does know was being mobbed by adorers and patrons. Someone remarked that the UK audience didn’t seem to get it. “It’s just a dance piece, it doesn’t mean anything…” Hofesh joked.