I’ve already admitted that I don’t understand dance, but The Exorcism of Megan Clune and Angela Goh provided a way of exploring the idea of dance without relying heavily on the technicality and particulars of dance. That said, it is something of an endurance test — as the people who left during the performance will attest.
On one wall of the exhibition space, four screens are projected. Tucked away in a corner is a fifth. Clune and Goh are both accomplished performers. Megan Clune is a clarinetist, while Angela Goh is a dancer. In each of the four screens on the main wall, we see them performing the same movements over and over again for 45 minutes. Clune practices the same few notes; Goh does lunges. Each video is from a different part of the same day. Even though this is the way we’re taught to practice — repeat the same task over and over until we’ve mastered it — we see the opposite. Two accomplished performers become tired, frustrated, and sore. Instead of improving in skill, their performances break down. On the fifth screen, off to the side, there is a timelapse video of the whole day compressed into a 45 minute video. This screen gives you a time referent for the other screens and, to an extent, anchors you in their day. You can see the whole day pass by while you watch the grueling 45 minute tasks play out in real time.
I really enjoyed this performance and liked what they were trying to say about breaking down a performer. The task took a visible toll on their bodies as they struggled to keep going through the third and fourth 45 minute block. At times, the music and dance was in sync; at others, the timing was just perfectly off, causing action and sound to cascade across the screens. None of it was planned, it was just how the sand fell.
This was clearly not going to be to everybody’s taste — as the departed audience members will attest — but for the rest of us it was 45 minutes of something that was simultaneously soothing and chaotic.