Bitter-sweet

Teri Hoskin

para//elo, Stories from the Market Place

para//elo, Stories from the Market Place

para//elo, Stories from the Market Place

Central Market is probably the most diverse site in Adelaide; a rich array of cultural practices operate here. Para//elo has exploited its ambience and pace to make connections between migration experience, trade, exchange and consumption. Stories From the Market Place engages with performance, installation, testimony and tourism to think the place of home. Homelessness at home. “We all leave and arrive from somewhere.”

Drinking coffee or tea is the thing one does while waiting, meeting or simply sitting. Lucia’s is legendary for its consistently good brew. We are offered an espresso cup painted with ships, sea and sky. A waiter fills it with a dark brew and gives us crisp sweet bread. Customers (audience) and performers mingle amongst the (as usual) closely packed tables. Over there someone is writing her shopping list, it’s Susie, we say hello across the tables. A stranger sits at our table near the small door. His coffee hasn’t arrived yet, the waiter assures him it’s on its way. Lucia’s always works at its own pace. The operatic score swells behind us and the customers/audience laugh as waiters signal the switch to performance with slow accentuated movements, out of place in the bustle of 7.30am pre-work chat. I’m glad this doesn’t last for long—this place is too small to be displaced in.

The man sitting at our table (Juha Vanhakartano) lays out 4 sugar cubes in a neat line, pours the recently arrived coffee into the saucer, puts one cube between his lips and proceeds to drink via the sugar filter. In between he tells us this is a Finnish practice. “Finnish coffee is bitter…one is always falling onto ice.” In this way the performers talk to those at their tables, across tables, tell stories; waiters bustle, wipe, collect, as waiters do. It’s a bit like the real thing but we are in it and the performers are performing. Susie (Fraser) is performing too. Her movements slow as the music/mood shifts to something approaching disquiet. It works. The talking stops.

We (we are a group, from beginning to end) are bustled out of the cafe door by a beckoning tour guide (Jason Sweeney). It’s all rather garrulous, as tours are reputed to be. We are shuffled along Laneway #5. Performers weave in and out, carrying luggage. Do those who flee always have time to pack? We arrive at a place adjacent to the Korean sushi stall. Headsets dangle around 3 long rectangular slabs. Like good audience members we climb up to sit on the stools, don the headsets and gaze, stunned and a bit awkward. These seats are high. The tables turn out to be vitrines lined with newspaper clippings, marriage certificates, photos and cartoons. Iconic things arranged down the centre represent the interweaving of 3 traditions, Islamic, Christian and perhaps Buddhist.

The visual aesthetic stops one thinking about this mix of otherness. More successful is the audio (Scanner aka Robin Rimbaud with Jason Sweeney), an ambient and disturbing mix of market sounds and story fragments. These images don’t settle quickly. A man from Iraq and another from Afghanistan offer small sweet things and fragrant tea in gold rimmed glass tumblers. To eat, to serve and be served are perhaps the things we first have in common.

Stories From The Market Place, Para//elo, creative director Teresa Crea, performers Irena Dangov, Susie Fraser, Antonio Gorgone, Jason Sweeney, Juha Vanhakartano, Adelaide Central Market, Gouger Street, March 2-9.

RealTime issue #48 April-May 2002 pg. 5-6

© Teri Hoskin; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 April 2002