Melbourne Town Hall
Until 18 June
By Alex First
As Gordon Gekko, in the 1987 Oliver Stone-directed hit film Wall Street, Michael Douglas said “greed, for lack of a better word, is good”.
I venture to suggest that Berlin-based artist Julian Rosefeldt, who has created the impressive multiscreen installation Euphoria, would vehemently disagree.
Using the musings of more than 100 economists, business magnates, writers and celebrities, Rosefeldt has edited and reassembled text fragments into script collage.
The key theme is the overwhelming impact of consumption and materialism, pummeling capitalism with the excess it asks for.
For mine, the most remarkable scene is an acrobatic song and dance sequence in a bank lobby, a stunning vignette that stayed with me long after exiting the town hall.
There is something incongruous about five homeless men discussing economic theory in an abandoned shipyard.
How about Cate Blanchett, unrecognisable as an anthropomorphic singing tiger, prowling the aisles of an empty supermarket?
The looped, one hour 55-minute offering (there is no start or end point) is hardly a conventional narrative film.
Rather, it is an artistic, esoteric, multi-sensory experience.
Featuring original music from Samy Moussa, with an additional composition by Cassie Kinoshi, Rosefeldt draws on the human voice and drums.
Life-size projections of the Brooklyn Youth Chorus – more than 100 in all – in an arena-like setting serve as a new version of a Greek chorus.
They encircle the installation at ground level.
Above them, on five video screens, are renowned jazz drummers Peter Erskine, Terri Lyne Carrington, Yissy Garcia, Antonio Sanchez and Eric Harland.
The musical voices and drum accompaniment weave their way in and out of the action, our attention primarily focused on a massive central screen.
At times, the music reaches a crescendo, before it drops away.
It could be providing a backdrop to the churn of a factory line, the rise and fall of the stock market, or the chaotic buzz of New York City.
Rosefeldt is internationally renowned for his visually opulent, meticulously choreographed moving image artworks.
He is inspired by the history of film, art and popular culture.
Viewers are transported into surreal theatrical realms, where protagonists are absorbed in the rituals of everyday life.
Some of the monologues presented on the big screen are more accessible than others, but there is no questioning the visual acuity of the production.
The drone or aerial shots are particularly captivating. I couldn’t get enough of them.
Whether or not you agree with Rosefeldt’s underlying sensibilities, Euphoria is, undeniably, a moreish feast for the senses, a contemplation of fairness and equity.
It is playing as part of the RISING Festival at Melbourne Town Hall until 18th June.
About the Author
Alex First believes all people have a story to tell, if only a good playwright can prize it out of them. Alex has a natural curiosity about the world and believes a strong narrative, or narrative with music, can open the door to subjects about which he knows little.
Like his parents before him, theatre is his passion – a passion with emotional resonance, one that moves and excites him. He brings decades’ experience as an arts’ connoisseur to his role as a critic.
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