Forest Fringe comes to Fusebox Festival in Austin, TX

Sex Idiot, Bryony Kimmings

Sex Idiot, Bryony Kimmings

Fusebox Festival blogger Shannon McCormick reporting from Austin, TX.

For the past nine years, Austin’s Fusebox Festival has sought to bring a sense of local, national, and international community and dialogue to the often isolated and far-flung practioners of new work, or experimental performance, or hybrid media, or whatever you want to call this thing–this emergent cauldron of new voices, this litter of artistic approaches still so slippery newborn they’re sometimes hard to identify as parts of the same family, much less nameable. In much the same fashion, the folks behind Forest Fringe have carved out a community-minded venue for like-minded souls, originating within the broader confines of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2007. So it was probably inevitable that the two entities would cross paths and collaborate. The 2013 Fusebox Festival will play host to a veritable British invasion of fresh talent courtesy of the Forest Fringe family. And like they’ve done in Edinburgh for the past seven years, they’ll be setting up something of a state within a state in Austin, with several Forest Fringe curated works installed at Salvage Vanguard Theater and operating inside the larger Fusebox experience.

Leading the way is The Travelling Sounds Library, an anthology sound installation under the aegis of Forest Fringe itself. The library presents a series of hollowed-out hardback books, each containing an MP3 player and a small program describing the audio content. Currently featuring audio pieces from Blast Theory, Duncan Speakman & Uninvited Guests, Finlay Robertson, Sleepdogs, Sue Palmer, Pat Ashe, Unclaimed Creatures, Tim Bamber, Harry Wilson, Iain Campbell, Ryan Van Winkle, Stan’s Café, and Alan Dunn (with frequent updates added to the library as Forest Fringe’s audio cohort grows), the library will be installed within the gallery/lobby of Salvage Vanguard from noon to 10 pm each day for the final six days of Fusebox. The Travelling Sounds Library even comes with an attendant librarian to help guide users through the experience and to suggest individual pieces.

Joining the Travelling Sounds library at Salvage Vanguard on the performance/installation side of the ledger is Andy Field’s Motor Vehicle Sundown, an interactive audio installation for two inside a parked car. An interrogation of our love affair with the automobile, the piece is pitched forward to a future world where the two audiences members are sitting inside the last car on earth as they ride through the wreckage of our present. Brian Lobel’s Carpe Minuta Prima invites participants to sell him a minute of their lives for a $1, capped with an hour-long presentation of the minutes he’s collected, with participants able to buy back their original minute or go home with a stranger’s. Rounding out the experiential installations is Forced Entertainment’s artistic director Tim Etchells’ Austin Fight City, a series of posters depicting current news events as brawls and fisticuffs.

Inside Salvage Vanguard’s theatrical space are another wave of Forest Fringe pieces, more traditionally theatrical ones but with the same expectation-defying aesthetics as the installations. Debbie Pearson’s The Future Show begins at the end of a purported performance and recounts Pearson’s entire future from that moment forward up until her own demise. Bryony Kimmings’ Sex Idiot is one-woman cabaret/variety show centered on Kimmings’ search for the culprit behind her contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Joining the solo performance pieces is Hitch by Kieran Hurley, an autobiographical narrative of Hurley’s hitchhiking quest to join the G8 protests in Italy in 2009. The only multi-performer theater piece is duo Action Hero’s Watch Me Fall, a work of Evel Kneivelesque daredevilry on a homemade runway in front of a standing audience.

With both Fusebox and Forest Fringe dedicated more than anything to testing new approaches, knowing if this particular new approach will take is hard to predict. But with collaboration, community and risk in both organizations’ genetic make-ups, the smart money is on win.

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