In the last four years, US drone strikes have claimed over 800 lives; 98% of these were civilian. Warfare is entering a terrifying new era where a soldier can use a SNES joystick to attack an enemy thousands of miles away. In their new show, This Side of Paradise, Dudendance use the war/video game nexus as stimuli for a dystopian installation piece.
Though little really happens in the piece, it remains a captivating and unnerving piece about the reifying effects of violence. Entering the Autopsy Room (now disused) the audience is confronted with a mass of indistinct, misshapen limbs writhing on the floor while a black figure watches on. Meat hooks loiter with menace from above and a masked being resembling a hangman guards the door to the Demonstration Room. The whole scene is reminiscent of Kurtz’s first moments in Africa in Heart of Darkness – another of the group’s inspirations – presenting the naturalisation of atrocity. Having been led into the next room and after yet more writhing, the mysterious back figures fight one another, becoming increasingly mechanised and cartoonesque. The ensemble’s physicality, along with the sinister setting, produces a genuine uneasiness and overall a nightmarishly sensual experience.