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Review: Edge and Shore – Acts of Doing.

Four stars. Dovecot Gallery, Edinburgh. By Mary Brennan

All last week, artist Helen Carnac and dance-maker Laila Diallo were in residence at Dovecot.

Each day a two-hour open sharing meant the public could come and watch them at serious, spontaneous play.

“Play” is a vast, free-and-far-ranging term for what this interaction – commissioned by the London-based Siobhan Davies Dance company – conjured out of found objects, simple tasks, hands-on curiosity and a willingness, on each artist’s part, to embrace the unpredictable and build on it.

Saturday, the last day of the project, had “collecting words – writing them on rolls of paper” as a designated starting point. Diallo roamed about the gallery, among suspended rolls of white paper – and their evidence of previous “acts of doing” – while streaming words for Carnac to write down.

Thereafter, paper was scrunched up, a sound unexpectedly like waves crashing to shore, and various objects – weaver’s bobbins, brown parcel tape, wooden building blocks – became the stuff of creative gamesplay.

At times, this looked competitive. More often than not, however, the “your move” challenge morphed into a sharing.

Structures were assembled, then – whether by chance or deliberate action – were destroyed only for their end to become the beginning of a new exploration.

Carnac responded by acts of making that created soundscores from wood and metal as well as impressing visual tracks on paper, Diallo’s movement sequences echoed those moments, tested balances and bucklings with her own physicality.

Connections were made, in the moment, then overtaken by forces of gravity or the sheer random waywardness of the objects themselves.

It was our own transience made evident, in acts of doing. And now, it’s gone.

What lingers is an incentive to look and listen with fresh awareness.

Images by Gorm.

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