Teresa Albor & Katherine Araniello created mayhem with input from a dozen or more artists for an immersive live art performance at the Southbank Centre’s Unlimited Festival. Dolly Sen was there for the crack…
A pig mask, a life guard costume, a plastic owl, a grey wig and a sewing machine are scattered around the stage area with other random paraphernalia of anarchy. On a stand is flip chart paper stating ‘Nothing you see here has been planned.’ Two large screens bookend the stage, showing a shopping trip to Ikea Katherine Araniello and Teresa Albor have undertaken. ‘How the Fuck’ is a 6-hour durational DIY live art workshop played out on the 5th floor of the Royal Festival Hall. I stepped into it at the beginning of their Saturday mayhem.
It starts like this: Teresa takes to the mike stand and tells us ‘How the Fuck’ is short for ‘How the fuck did we get this grant?’ Anarchy at the Southbank got a grant – woo! The definition of anarchy is: ‘a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority or other controlling systems’. But the one controlling system nobody can get out of is the health and safety lecture. Teresa and Katherine’s sum total of first aid readiness is a pack of dog and cat plasters. The plasters are tiny. The knife they have on the stage as one of the props is huge. They decide a demonstration is in order and Katherine is given a bloody nose and cut head with the help of a red lipstick.
The easy to peel plasters are not easy to peel as it turns out and poor Katherine would have bled to death had this been a situation. But good old Katherine, she insults Teresa as she does. Theresa’s phone rings. It’s an air BNB calling about a booking Teresa’s made. It gets sorted quickly. In this performance of subversive delightfulness, Teresa tells us their Southbank contacts have porn names.
Katherine chides her for the assumption that everybody in the audience watches porn and would know what a porn name is. Teresa also tells us she likes to wank. Katherine says this is oversharing. I wanted to put my hand up to support a fellow wanker. I decide not to. I also agree to myself that this is not a performance I would take the Women’s Institute to.
They move onto the food. The people in the audience are divided up into participants and members of the public. I am a member of the public. I am not allowed to eat any of the food they have due to the food hygiene rules of the Southbank Centre. One of the foodstuffs they had was a packet of nuts, which Katherine proceeded to crush with her wheelchair wheel. It felt like this performance could crush all sorts of nuts.
Teresa picked up the crushed and open bag of nuts and threw it into the audience, right in my direction! Nuts are attracted to me, that’s fair to say. I was showered with nut dust and nuts. I am the last person in the world that could have a nut allergy, which was handy at that moment.
When it was found out I was a member of the public and not a participant, the nuts were taken back from me as I wasn’t allowed them. I kept a few nuts back. I felt sad about being excluded. Teresa and Katherine wanted to sing to the members of the public that couldn’t eat their food, so we went up onto the stage and were serenaded with a plaintive song called ‘I’m Sorry’. It was beautiful but I still wanted my bag of nuts back.
Things moved away from the stage and the next part of the event was building Ikea furniture, which we saw they had purchased from their Ikea shopping films. This was my cue to leave.
‘How the Fuck’ is a 6 hour long immersive live art performance and I had other things to review. Flatpack furniture is also not my strong point, but if it had been how to have a better wank, I might have stuck around just a little bit longer.
However, I felt refreshed from some much-needed delicious pandemonium. It had to be delicious, because they took my nuts away. Food was obviously heavily featured throughout the day. This is what another participant said about the presence of Pringles later:
“Pringle-binging is the invitation to use the banal foodstuff as an identity formation methodology whereby the crisp is transformed into prop, body adornment, sculptural fetish object to create a faecal or menstrual body. Quotidian consumer culture is transvaluated into cathartic experience calling into question performativity.”
London Live recorded a piece on the performance, putting into context what they were doing. http://www.londonlive.co.uk/news/2018-09-07/unlimited-festival-at-the-southbank-centre-celebrates-disability