Photo by Bríd O' Donovan
To help mark the celebrations for the fifth anniversary of The Black Mariah gallery here in Cork, I was invited to open for Lydia Lunch with a short performance. The space was very different to any other place that I've worked in before and I felt very alone in the piece, apart from hearing some cameras clicking halfway through.
When I hear that tonight’s Lydia Lunch spoken word event will be opened by Wölflinge, it makes perfect sense. Once – and possibly still – an adjunct of the extended United Bible Studies collective, for many years a creative force in her own right, and renowned for pushing the boundaries here in our back yard with Black Sun and multiple collaborations, Vicky Langan aka Wölflinge is about the only local act who could effectively complement the show tonight, or with the kahunas to do so. Plus as tonight’s event is hosted by The Black Mariah gallery, both performers typically stretch across the grey area between music show and performance art. It should make for an interesting evening.
Wölflinge appears unannounced from the darkness at the back of the stage, unassuming as ever; readies an array of pedals, and preps for the performance by partially disrobing. Bare breasted, and contact mic in mouth, the crowd are soon pulled into a kind of uncomfortable intimacy with the performer, as every gulp of saliva and flutter of breath from inside her mouth is amplified to the level that you would normally only hear if the sound was coming from your own head.
Small jars are produced and held at ear level, upturned, allowing the contents – a thick, viscous, inky black liquid, to pour slowly out and cover the naked skin. Breathing, shallow and deep, is accompanied by various clicks and pops from the mic. This performance seems to follow on from recent collaborations with First Blood Pt II where the two are locked in close quarters and at times almost primal screaming into each other’s mouths. Tonight’s solo performance is more vulnerable, and is like an assault on the senses which culminates suddenly when the bodily sounds are thoroughly distorted into a fierce howl, before dissipating, and Wolflinge, now an exhausted figure streaked with black on her skin leaves the stained surroundings of the stage and steps back into the darkness from whence she came. I glance at my watch: the entire performace took no more than fifteen minutes. Impressive for the levels of intensity reached so quickly, most of the audience don’t seem to know what to make of it. Its wordless evocation of female agression and physical vulnerability is a fitting counterpart to the vocal diatribe we are about to experience. “The body is an experimental canvas, full of puss and cum”, we’ll hear later, and that take is foreshadowed here.
Read the rest of the review here: