Strange qualities

Julia Postle takes a virtual tour of Canberra

Peter Sheedy & Csaba Buday, II (two)		video capture

Peter Sheedy & Csaba Buday, II (two) video capture

Peter Sheedy and Csaba Buday have worked together before, but never like this. As the Choreographic Centre’s first Fellows for 1999, they had a few weeks to explore the national capital, workshop their ideas, and then bring it all back to the studio to create II.(two) New to Canberra, they brought a keen eye for the strange quality of the place—the beauty, the linear/circular nature, and even the sterility. Choosing sites of interest, they worked with composer Ben Walsh and video artist Bridget Lafferty.

Airport. A visitor’s first impression, the Canberra Airport is captured here by night in an opening video. From a static vantage point, the camera picks up the blurry lights of the runway and the distant trucks and cars as they move slowly across the screen.

Railway. They sit, backs to each other, on 2 standard railway platform benches, waiting, fidgeting, thinking, never making eye contact. When movement begins, it is small but rapid, startling in the scene. Balancing on the back rim of the chair, suspending the moment, before flying into each other. As they confront each other through increasingly daring eye contact and physical closeness, it’s athletic, aggressive even. Their heavy breathing carries through the tiny space, hanging over the stillnesses in between the energy.

Brickworks. The film projected on the back scrim shows one of the many caverns in the disused Canberra Brickworks. Buday and Sheedy appear, sweeping the sand with their feet. The pace escalates as they kick the sand and it goes flying, and they seem to jump up the walls. The score uses sounds of machinery, bells clanging and hollow rumblings, evoking a sense of the history and atmosphere of the site. Then they are in the space, in reality, with the projected image of the Brickworks hovering behind. They use contact work that progresses to visual contact only, with Buday’s shadow playfully exposing and covering Sheedy.

Sculpture Garden. Projections of the Fiona Hall garden in the National Gallery of Australia illuminate the space. Sheedy’s solo is first. He hangs from a crude set of monkey bars, one arm holding his limp body, feet dragging beneath him as he twists to spin himself from the structure. He climbs, jumps, and falls sharply; the momentum increasing and diminishing randomly. Buday uses the space differently, with sculptural movements between the shadows and projected images. Both men have an awareness of the quality of their every movement and how this relates to the performance environment.

Olympic Pool. Fully clothed, with goggles, Sheedy and Buday are filmed from within the Olympic Pool at the National Institute of Sport. It’s a playful, absurd moment: they run in a distorted slow motion, move about ridiculously, Sheedy checks the time on his wristwatch, and it all happens to a remix of Elvis’ Suspicious Minds. II (two) works well for these unique choreographers, in many ways thanks to the rare luxury of research and development provided by the Choreographic Fellowship.

Peter Sheedy and Csaba Buday, II (two), The Choreographic Centre, Canberra, March 18 – 20

RealTime issue #31 June-July 1999 pg. 35

© Julia Postle; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 June 1999