Blood Moon Feast, Wolf in the Winter: The Blind Leading The Blind
Edible Eastside, 122 Fazeley Street, Birmingham. B5 5RS
Review by Cathy Wade
The full moon in October is termed the Blood Moon. An act of naming that defies the reassuring yearly cycle of harvest festival traditions recognising the liminality in the transitional power of the Autumn dusk. At Edible Eastside, a concrete garden on brownfield land in the industrial residues of Digbeth, vegetables were planted in the Spring season with the intent to offer a communal feast prepared by radical food designers Blanch and Shock. Over the summer months, with the site fecund with plants, the production of materials and matter for consumption was undertaken as vegetables were gathered and preserved. These activities were echoed by visits from Wolf in the Winter with Brian Catlin, Aaron Williamson, Anet van de Elzen and Kirsten Norrie responding to the edges of the site testing how they could respond to both place and its situation. Dialogues about transition and seasonality occurred, as the fading light of autumn drew plants back into dormancy. Both chefs and performers initiating use of the site that opened up the garden to fresh interpretation.
As the audience arrived they walked into a site in which food production harnessed materials taken directly from the beds that morning; the proximity of food to plate mere metres in distance. Flatbread was cooked in an earth oven, perfuming the site with the smell of the bakery and pumpkins were barbequed with sumac and hogweed. The expansiveness of the food served on compostable wooden plates underpinned the adaptability of a garden, as slow cooked eggs with chopped greens jostled for space with burnt jalapeno, anaheim peppers and onions baked in embers. Once the guest received their food they walked out into the garden, through the raised beds, shifting, investigating and devouring their Blood Moon feast.
The edges of Edible Eastside’s planting open up a different aspect to the site, following a ramp you are led to an open area of concrete by the canal. The voices of the Wolves echoing across the site summoned the audience to join the collaborative performance The Blind leading the Blind, a direct reference to Bruegel’s painting in which a band of sightless figures move raggedly in a landscape, the leader falling into a ditch pulling his companions after his collapse. The Wolves performances are elemental, as individual actions unravel and mesh into shared activities that then collide with the audience as they shift and intervene within the site. A fleeting series of acts is seared into the viewers gaze: Anet van de Elzen sitting smearing and anointing herself with banana pulp and flour by a former warehouse for fruit from the West Indies; Elouise Fornieles circling the space echoing the trajectory of her Fierce performance ‘The Message’, then walking into the arms of Denys Blacker who appeared as a masked apparition in a corner of the site. Aaron Williamson paralleling Blanch and Shocks barbecue with a series of frenetically burnt and flaming umbrellas, momentarily pausing to illuminate Brian Catling as he wheezed life into a cheap bear balloon which he then gaffer- taped forcefully onto himself. Matthew Luck Galpin’s face raised to the sky as his glasses leaked fluid down his cheeks while Kirsten Norrie lay abject on the ground bathing her head in a puddle in the concrete. Feral clattering, collisions and soundings, as metal is sharpened, pans and glasses arch towards brick and a bunch of flowers is used to rail with the fencing that marks the sites boundary. These are acts that reveal an empathy, in which moments of repetition, pathos and instability emerge with clarity through companionship and individual endeavour. As the light ebbs, this meshing starts to separate, each wolf carries their own illumination, and gradually drifts into the audience switching out their lights. The ground that was colonised moments ago is charred, voided and noiseless, and the complexity of the site emerges starkly under the paucity of available light as a companion to the journey back into the city.