Summerhall this August is, as expected, host to the weird and wonderful of visual arts, music, theatre and dance. Bildraum (meaning image space) is but one part of this. This visual art performance has been devised by the artistic partners Steve Salembier and Charlotte Bouckaert, the duo making up the Flemish artistic collaboration Atelier Bildraum. The architect and photographer (relatively) describe themselves as “technicians of the imagination”, through their curation of lived in spaces using models and light.
The Old Lab venue holds a crowded audience that eagerly anticipates the start of the performance as curious eyes wander over the dolls-house like objects that scatter the floor in between sound equipment and studio lights. It is minimal and somewhat austere. The architect appears and, in perhaps a slightly awkward silence, begins to purposefully create a set out of these dolls house pieces. His hand trembles as the construction is pieced together. The horror that it might fall and increase this wait rises in the audience. However, the photographer appears with the start of atmospheric backing music to abate the uncomfortable start, as she allows the inner world of this scene to be projected before us.
For the following forty minutes, the pair creates a domestic world out of their miniature, make-shift props that become life-size on the screen with the aid of lights and a camera. The beauty of it is the poetic nature of the artist’s movements and the subtleties of their imagery, but this is at time ruined by sound effects that shatter the illusionary visual feast.
The aim seems to be for the audience to imagine different memories taking place within the seemingly ordinary scenes that develop before us: a dinner party, an outdoor swim, a table tennis game. Disappointingly, obviously ominous sound effects of echoing footsteps and heavy breathing paired with our voyeuristic position add too much of a detective novel spin. However, at other times, the surreal and artistic nature of the image making is proof of the incredible creativity of the artistic duo.
Although the performance begins with some insecurity, the poetry of the piece shines through in the end. The physicality in the movements that create (and destroy) the scenes is a pleasure to watch and feel when paired with the subtle, poetic imagery used. Focus on these aspects to find the imagined memories hidden in the austerity of the start.
The Old Lab, Summerhall, 16th – 28th August
Tickets available: http://festival16.summerhall.co.uk/event/bildraum/
Image Credit: Atelier Bildraum