Beginning with a low base drone from a right-of-centre synthesiser, followed by visuals of a steam-punked patient and nurse trying and failing to communicate what level of pain they are dealing with, things feel off-kilter, almost horror-story-like.
This is chromatic exposure of a body that has been clinically invaded over and over, and whether the procedures have worked or not is beyond the point. The point is that the body is feeling more than it is functioning and this artist wants to own it.
Alison Paradoxx has many ailments and their labels undoubtedly matter to her, but the purpose of her show (and this review) is not to dissect the symptoms but to understand that the body exists beyond its tags, so let’s move onto expression.
The performer’s main gig is showcasing her slam champion style of spoken word, otherwise known as “performance poetry”. It’s a hip thing and a very nuanced, practised artform, but sometimes the performance detracts from a relate-ability needed in storytelling that emphasises empathy, specifically when speaking directly to the audience.
When Paradoxx melds with the music, however (5000AD is the man working the sounds), the whole execution is incredibly stylised and difficult to fault. Also noteworthy is Ian Gibbins’ captioning on a large screen, which not only makes the production more accessible but also stresses that even poetry meant to be heard is best read so that meaning isn’t mislaid in the rhythm.
The loss of normative ability does not mean a loss of identity, but it is a loss that is felt. This show gives graphics to some of those feelings, ranging from confusion to anger to acceptance and embrace. It’s confrontational and experimental, much as the dis-eased body can be.
Floral Peroxide being presented at the Nexus Centre again on February 25 and March 11.
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