Thursday, August 03, 2006


Trafalgar Square Festival Review Week 1 Day 1

The Trafalgar Square Festival finally began today!

At 6pm, a packed Trafalgar Square was witness to a performance by 'Mass Carib' by Nitro. Powerful live vocals and music told the story of African slaves being taken to the West Indies and forced to become Christians. Here is a picture of one of the slaves with a rope around his neck, replaced later with a cross.

It's made even more poignant by the fact that the performance was to commemorate next year the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.

Next came a rather curious act- 'Evo' by Cie BK. As the picture shows, they had their heads buried in soil.

I would love to know what happened next, but the crowd became so big that, for such a small area, it was impossible for 90% of the people there to watch it. According to the brochure, they end up 'evolving from the soil', meaning that the performers finally emerge completely, I suppose.

Every now and then during the day, interesting sounds were emitted from the 'four musical sirens.' This project, known as 'Song of the Sirens' was by Mécanique Vivante. I made a blog entry about them before the festival started here. Each 'Siren' would make different sounds for the music. Quite nifty really when you think about it. The kind of dream-like sounds made can be heard on their website.

Next up came 'Saurus' by Close Act, which was one of the most entertaining performances of the day. Dinosaurs (basically men on stilts dressed as dinosaurs), roamed around the square interacting with the public, most of the time by frightening them:

The dinosaurs made a lot of noise and, as this poor passing cyclist found out, their bite was just as bad as their bark!

Apparently, to reclaim his head he will need to contact Mayor of London by this evening or else it will be fined... and probably disposed of.

Another act that involved participation from the crowd and perhaps even more frightening than the dinosaurs was 'Who Hair Dares!' by Osadia. The name of this 'original and provocative exhibition' says it all really, volunteers of the crowd stepped up to have their hair made into weird and wonderful shapes that had been inspired by famous London landmarks. It was hard to say whether or not the lady here was happy with what was happening to hers!

'Elevate' by the Irven Lewis Dance Theatre was performed on the steps. A specially created dance to take the design of the square's steps into consideration. They danced to hip-hop tunes that got the crowd going such as 'get ur freak on' by Missy Elliott.

Then, there was quite a long break before 'Spheres' by Strange Fruit performed near Nelson's Column. As became clear by their act, they had been waiting for the light to get dark enough to perform it to the greatest effect:

It was a fantastic visual spectacle. Apparently it was all about looking at 'physics, the miracle of birth and out relationship to the planet.'

This eventually finished and around 10pm, the projections of Martin Firrell (who we interviewed in the build-up to the festival) illuminated the portico of the National Gallery. Each new text was revealed by a line of red dots running from left to right to echo the National Gallery's red banners hanging between the pillars of the portico.

There were some statements that received strong applause from the onlookers, such as 'I Want to Live in a City Where noone is sent to war' and 'I Want to Live in a City Where noone can be held without trial.' There were some that even elicited laughter like 'I Want to Live in a City Where the water mains are watertight.' Now that is definitely wishful thinking!

Martin told us in his interview what he hoped his list would prompt in the viewer, and he got his wish: as the crowds dispersed, I heard some of them coming up with their own phrases for what they would want their city to be like. I had a great time, so personally I wouldn't mind living in a city where there was a festival every day! See ya tomorrow.

Yeah the dinosaurs were good and I thought Strange Fruit near the end did a good job.
I just looooooooooooooooooove this blog!
I can follow what's going on every day in TS!
I was at the festival briefly yesterday but I couldn't stay for all of it. I'm glad I can catch up here!
I was at the festival too! It was really cool. I loved the Spheres act by Strange Fruit - even the name of the group sounds funky! As an artist myself I felt really inspired by them. This blog summed the events of the festival up really well... keep up the blogging...!
Concise yet informative.
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