A brief in-person interaction between Somewhere, Everywhere, Nowhere’s Alison Currie and Yui Kawaguchi three years ago has since, through the wonder of technology, morphed into a long-distance artistic collaboration. At the 2021 OzAsia Festival, despite quarantines and border restrictions, the pair have been reunited in the flesh, and will debut a trans-hemispheric, cross-cultural, mixed-medium work exploring a world that is at once united and divided by technology and contagion.
It was in a foyer of the Festival Centre during the 2018 OzAsia Festival that dancers Alison Currie, based in Adelaide, and Berlin-based Japanese dancer Yui Kawaguchi first connected for just fifteen minutes. Kawaguchi, who had just come off the Space Theatre stage from performing her dystopian Andropolaroid 1.1 was introduced to Currie by festival director Joseph Mitchell, who identified a commonality in the pair’s artistic practises: both meld mediums. From this fleeting introduction, a show was born.
While Somewhere, Everywhere, Nowhere unashamedly tackles myriad themes, a central premise is that an object’s true dimensions can only be ascertained when viewing it from a multitude of perspectives, as Kawaguchi explains.
“Alison is one eye, I am another eye. She lives in Adelaide, I live in Berlin and our experiences are totally different but once we focus on the same topics, the picture becomes more three dimensional. I can get the shadow side from her angle.”
Often when subjective views unite or coalesce in sufficient quantities, an arrival at objective reality is the outcome. Alison explains how the choreography of the work reflects the examination of this theme.
“We took some recordings at the same time but in different time zones: opposite time, opposite hemispheres, opposite seasons. We played a lot with mirroring or flipping it upside down. Choreographically, that was a nice starting point, looking at opposites and connections and different reflections of each other.”
The digital age was meant to knock down the walls, borders and the geography that divided us, with the accumulated wisdom of humanity accessible with a click and with every human perspective united by fibre optic cables and a geostationary, orbiting satellites.
Somewhere, Everywhere, Nowhere, is a critique of this great promise of technology, and features 25 sculptural objects, each with an LED light that is programmable, fibre optic lighting designed by Fabian Bleisch and sound design by Sascha Budimski.
For Kawaguchi and Currie, the rise of the machines has left many grasping for purpose, as Kawaguchi explains.
“[We] talked about ghost nets in the ocean being like the internet. A ghost net is created for a purpose, to catch fish, then is separated from its purpose and drifts and catches animals without a meaning.”
Online content, be it memes, news articles, tweets, status updates or stories are uploaded to the cloud and float away, to then have lives of their own, detached from context, as Alison explains.
“We talked about function without purpose. A ghost net catches a turtle that nobody is going to eat, then that disintegrates and it goes on to catch something else. The destruction of that. We talked about the powerless of when you don’t have purpose as a human.”
As performing artists navigating the unprecedented upheaval wrought by a global pandemic, Currie and Kawaguchi, like us all, to a degree, have grappled with a heightened sense of purposelessness, and have imbued this aimlessness into the show’s set design and choreography, as Alison explains.
“We talked a lot about both of our experiences of things getting cancelled, and this small grief when things that you’ve imagined that are never realised and the ghost of that project, experience, idea, trip or travel.”
Alongside their OzAsia performance, Currie and Kawaguchi are giving local dancers an opportunity to immerse themselves inside the duo’s creative whirlwind at a Master Class, to be held at The Mill. Instead of instructing and choreographing, the acclaimed dancers will prompt and encourage exploration. In keeping with their show’s themes, they want participants to bring their perspectives, their truth, as Yui explains.
“Instead of just choreographing the scenes, we were thinking about giving a task to the people such as trying mirroring: an instruction that they will follow rather than telling them how to move. I’m interested in listening to their stories so we can set up their improvisation tasks.”