Artist Aideen Barry has long been interested in levitation and flight. Her best-known piece is the film, Vacuuming in a Vacuum, in which she dressed up as a hoover while floating in a zero-gravity compression chamber at the Kennedy Space Station. It’s an incredibly beautiful piece, one that captures the yearning to escape the domestic.
At Engage, Barry performed her live-action piece, ‘Flight Folly’, in the drawing room of the Farm, the former dower house of the Bernard family, just outside Bandon. ‘Flight Folly’ was conceived for performance at Liste 15, Basel, Switzerland. A film of the work can be viewed online, but nothing quite prepares you for seeing Barry perform it live.
Barry, a striking figure, with her long, black hair flowing down her back, was dressed in white. Her silk dress was voluminous, with a diameter of at least ten feet, supported by a light metal frame. Attached to these were 16 model helicopters, which Barry powered by remote control.
The drone of the helicopter engines superseded all other sound in the room as Barry’s dress rose around her. Her face expressing complete concentration, she rotated slowly, maintaining the balance of the apparatus as the helicopters lifted her dress ever higher and then descended to the floor again. She repeated the movement several times, before suddenly collapsing on the carpet, lying perfectly still as the audience filed out of the room.
Most present would agree it was a magical ten minutes, a contemporary take on the ascension of Icarus into the heavens and his subsequent fall into the sea. Those of us who crept back into the room some time later, to view the deflated dress with its ring of silenced helicopters, were relieved to find the artist had escaped so tragic a fate.
Star Rating 4/5
By Declan Townsend
What a privilege it was to hear a live performance of Haydn’s Horn Concerto in D (Hob VIId/3) — generally overshadowed by Mozart’s four. ! It was the centrepiece of the IBO’s programme in its latest visit to Munster. For this concert in Bandon’s Engage Arts Festival, Roy Goodman, directing the IBO from the harpsichord, chose six works written between 1740 and 1773 — the Age of Enlightenment — by both familiar and relatively unknown composers, a programme that was a delight from beginning to end.
The concert began with a Sinfonia for two flutes and strings by Wilhelm Friedman, the eldest of JS Bach’s sons. The gentle sound of the wooden flutes set the tone for the pleasing opening adagio. With just one viola to balance the five violins, cello and bass, I felt that the following, rhythmically exciting fugue was somewhat unbalanced. Haydn obviously wrote his concerto for a player of outstanding ability, one who could effortlessly change from the lowest register to the very highest tones and do so while varying the dynamics from a whisper to full tone as well. Overcoming all of these challenges with apparent ease, Anneke Scott gave a brilliant performance on Natural Horn that revealed the beautiful tone that these ancient instruments could produce.
Similarly, Lisa Beznosiuk demonstrated what a gorgeously warm tone could come from the two-keyed wooden flute for which the great pedagogue Johann Quantz wrote his Concerto in G. I particularly loved the quiet intimacy of the soul-searching Arioso. The Sinfonia in D for two horns and strings by JS Bach’s pupil, Johann Kirnberger had little to commend it but the Symphony in C by CPE Bach was exciting and utterly charming.
Mozart’s Symphony No 21 in A for two flutes, two horns and strings was a miracle of melodic excitement, invention, colour, and textural contrast. It summed up the qualities I admired in the other works on the programme and the performance was worthy of the music.
Star Rating: 4/5