Sunday, 26 May 2013

Re-purposing the streets: Figures Libres at the Brighton Festival

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A spotlight shines on a red haired woman in a white dress perched on a tiny ledge at the top of City College, high above Pelham Street. As she speaks over the PA system, a squad of backpacking projector-jockeys throw supersized faces from the crowd below onto surrounding buildings. Other images appear. A couple of video jockeys on Mad Max post-apocalyptic four wheelers are mixing tracks, booming the bass and shooting out more images.

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The woman in white faces the ground and walks down the outside of the building in an inverted abseil. Next, she reappears on a bus festooned with screens, lights, a sound system and electronica. Musicians play. The bus moves off. The crowd follows. The woman sings, chants, declaims. More images appear, some projected onto the brick cliffs of St Bartholomews Church. A giant naked woman runs above the fascia of Sainsbury’s. Locals appear at the windows as houses and apartment buildings become screens. A baby is born on video.
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Another baby is suddenly smiling on a huge white balloon. The crowd threads the New England Quarter. The traffic has gone, the streets have become theatre, an installation, an event.  It’s Figures Libres.  It’s a bit edgy. It’s spectacular, it’s impressive. What does it mean? What does it matter?

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