Iona Kewney and Joseph Quimby: Knights of the invisible
Review by Andy Field
Knights of the invisible is a solo dance performance by Iona Kewney accompanied by musician Joseph Quimby. The two of them are onstage throughout, Iona at the front and Joseph the back, a eurythmic Eurythmics, her dancing unrelentingly to his forest of looping electronic sounds and plaintively sung notes half strangled with echo and reverb.
Knights of the invisible is a duet between Iona Kewney and Joseph Quimby. They perform together, his size and relative immobility on the stage a counterpoint to her smallness and her constant movement. His restlessness as important as her restlessness.
Iona moves skittishly and erratically across the stage, every movement glitching and distorting like a broken video. Eyes bulge and breathe stutters. She appears disorientated, her body spasms and convulses, a series of jerking refrains that seem to originate from far beyond any point of conscious control.
Iona moves quickly and decisively across the stage, every movement Catherine-wheeling with the breathtaking confidence of someone who understands absolutely the limits and possibilities of their body in performance. Every gesture seems imbued with an equal level of effort and control. She makes standing on your hands look as natural and easy as walking in circles around a room. Or perhaps, more accurately, she makes walking in circles around a room appear as demanding as standing on your hands.
What I was mainly thinking about throughout the performance was vulnerability. I remember thin fingers crawling out across the floor, arms straining and failing to lift a blanket filled with soil, a hopeless attempt to pour spilt water back into a bottle, Iona leaning against Joseph half hidden behind his arm; Iona hidden again at the end of the show, a collapsed bundle of person wrapped in a dirty picnic blanket.
What I was mainly thinking about throughout the performance was strength. I remember muscle and bone so pronounced skin seemed barely able to contain them, moments of incredible stillness in agonising holds and contortions, Iona taking the microphone to provide her own echoing and distorted harmony to accompany the piece; Iona with a dirty picnic blanket wrapped round her strong shoulders as a cape, a tree branch a sceptre in her outstretched hand, walking magisterially across the front of the space like a tiny demented Boudicca; like a reminder that just surviving is a kind of triumph.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Iona Kewney’s performance is her body’s ability to not simply contain contradictions but to perform them with such fevered viscerality. As she moves she seems able to articulate, to make visible, perhaps even to exorcise the tangle of contested meanings that all bodies (and especially female bodies) find themselves subjected to. She appears sometimes to be quite literally a person caught in the middle of an argument with herself or fracturing under the the noise of the music and the gaze of the audience; an avalanche of disparate movements, a body breaking painfully in two only to resolutely put itself back together again.