Uninvited Guests, Make Better Please, review by Diana Damian
Through the thick haze that fills the community hall, slipping past the dark, heavy curtains that block the noise of the outside world, dissipating past the circle of chairs that frame his own space, a frantically moving figure is shaped by the gaze of its anonymous onlookers, moving to the dissonant undertones of the thoughts behind the masks- people who have occupied the obituary pages of newspapers: politicians, lawyers, housewives, artists, children, recalled to witness. A wave of noise is washing over the participants to this ceremony of purging; he moves unsteadily, stirring change in the mind of those who watch him, embodying all that is bad, frustrating, evil, shape-shifting into a caricature, belly thick with newspaper print. In this social ritual, the cultural trauma of information saturation is being displaced through a journey of confrontation and the political act of renewal.
Uninvited Guests’ ‘Make Better Please’ is an incision into the fabric of contemporary life that empowers its participants to consider, together, issues of concern, personal or public, political or intimate. It’s a social festivity that capitalizes on the power of the collective and our need to purge, to write out our social dramas and perform rather than repress the constituent elements; to confront and own in the hope of some modification. A piece that builds on cultural memory and a particular history of social practice, ‘Make Better Please’ is about celebrating the possibility of change and viewing our concerns in a more positive light, avoiding the theatrical in favour of the power of ritual.
The show responds to different news each day, extracted by participants out of newspapers, discussed and filtered collectively. It brings to life the undertones of these real-life documents against a local history embedded in the walls of the Institute’s community hall, recalling and writing history; it’s a ritual both futile and endearing, trading in extreme nuances and calling on our capacity to imagine change. By creating a liminal space, Uninvited Guests curate a ceremony that is public in its format and personal in tone. Natural elements like paper, fire and water give nuance to the piece, and the headlines, marked on the walls of the space, change shape as after-thoughts linger around them, inscribing the concerns of the day, ready to devour new ones. Silence punctures each act as a way to allow thoughts to settle, ideas to be projected, echoes of the world outside to be heard- an act of resistance and release.
Much like a musical score that weaves the emotion of its listeners into the fabric of its performance, ‘Make Better Please’ is an invitation to reconsider the relationship between the personal and the collective. Through discourse, issues surface; through ceremony, they become collective; and through ritual, they are spun, challenged and confronted. Uninvited Guests rethink issues around participation by weaving the performative into the formal constrains of social ceremony, removing the sense of anticipation that shadows personal engagement and capitalizing on the potential ownership that is democratically distributed in the encounters they curate.
‘Make Better Please’ is a powerful piece that sings to the power of ritual as a gesture, collecting and dissipating the voices of participants to daily life in an encounter with memory, history and the shape of the future, as much an elegy as it is a celebration.