Dublin Dance Festival 2017: Deep Dish
Hardcore Food Porn
Food becomes visual fodder in “Deep Dish,” a stunning visual spectacle by Austrian choreographer and director, Chris Haring, and his company Liquid Loft, in collaboration with French visual artist Michel Blazy. The third instalment in Liquid Loft’s “Perfect Garden Series,” “Deep Dish” fuses dance, dinner party and movie making as four performers interact with a table of wine, water, fruit and vegetables to explore transience and decay. Food and performers are framed and reimagined through a hand-held camera, their projections displayed on a huge screen with tables turned as micro become macro, and vice versa. People shrink to the size of celery sticks and a predominantly vegan diet is given the up close and personal treatment with near microscopic detail. Yet the end result is less David Attenborough and more David Lynch, with “Deep Dish’s” decadent dinner party looking like a dream sequence from Twin Peaks, replete with backward talking dialogue, strong sexual overtones, and a visual sensibility that is wildly weird and wonderful.
Themes of transience and decay dominate in this fascinating Land of the Giants. The self-assurance of the Norwegian seed deposits, whose melting permafrost protection has thrown a wobble in the world’s Doomsday recovery scenario, rings with a sense of the prophetic as dancers eat, drink, laugh and make nonsense in the face of our efforts to control nature. Nature has a way of eluding our grasp, and renewal may not be ours to decide. So, should we eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die, or do we die tomorrow for our failure to protect our natural resources today? Either way, all is always changing, in a state of Buddhist impermanence, in a world of death and decay where change is the only thing that never changes.
As much an exploration of the image as of transience, visuals and performance often meld perfectly in “Deep Dish,” yielding some delightful, insightful and hilarious moments. Dancers Stephanie Cumming, Katharina Meves and Anna Maria Nowak play second fiddle throughout to dancer Luke Baio’s camera work as he records the three female dancers, and the food, around the table. A case of the male gaze in action? Perhaps. The framed image dominates everything, even when less interesting than other things happening onstage. At one point a delightful, drunken, decadent duet cleverly danced proves to be much more interesting than Biao’s cinematic tour of the table, but it struggles to compete for attention. If often inventive, some visuals look less innovative than they might have in this photo shopped, face swap, technologically rich era. Yet a wonderful sound design by Andreas Berger, coupled with a beautiful lighting design by Thomas Jelinek, fills in any blanks, deepening the centre and periphery of both vision and hearing, even as the cyclone of decay comes to rest. If “Deep Dish” is food porn, it’s hardcore, bordering on snuff movie. For “Deep Dish’s” dinner party is the equivalent of a Roman orgy where all the slaves are slain afterwards. Stunning to look at, hilarious at times, and thought provoking throughout, “Deep Dish” is a visual feast whose dark themes are given a delightful and decadent twist making them even more enjoyable.
“Deep Dish” by Chris Haring and Liquid Loft, in collaboration with Michel Blazy, runs at The Abbey Theatre as part of Dublin Dance Festival 2017 until May 27th.