Unfix is a multi-arts festival looking at climate change and the changing world that we live in. Spanning over three days, the festival is taking over the CCA in Glasgow to present a variety of dance, theatre, films, workshops and talks that all take an interesting and stimulating perspective. Themes such as race, colonialism, mental health, media and science are all presented in a range of interesting and motivating methods.
Unfix begins in the cinema of the CCA with the short documentary Plastic Man by Yulia Kovanova. The film looks at nature and landscape by following a man who burns areas of a forest as an act of preservation. It takes an experimental approach to documentary storytelling, where close up shots of plant life and flora gives Plastic Man a tactile, tangible and earthy feel. The film asks questions on ecology and the methods that are used to maintain and care for the natural environment. Up in the CCA Creative Lab is the performance Seidrkona: Electro-Acoustic Shamanic Death Ritual from Verónica Mota, which incorporates repetition, costume, percussion and movement to explore themes of life and death in a post-capitalism world. The audience is asked to sit in the floor as Mota stalks the performance space, occasionally touching audience members. The performer uses subtle and slight movements to express the connection between life and death in what is a short and engaging performance that uses intermittent strobe lighting effects to add to the confusion and anxiety of the piece.
Hell Is Empty by Paisley based artist Ruaridh Law is a visual and audio performance installation that investigates the media and its ability to manipulate the narrative on issues of migrating and asylum. Live feeds from alt-right websites are employed to create music patterns, where the audio and visuals appear to be manipulated in real time to show degradation and a complete visual breakdown; ultimately building to a manic and vibrant conclusion where sensory overload enthrals the audience. The tone of the evening changes with the first discussion event of the Unfix Festival. A Conversation at the End of the World, a candlelit discussion on arts role in climate change hosted by The Dark Mountain Project. Upon entering the Clubroom, participants are given the opportunity to pick up a small piece of paper with a word written on it. The low lighting and flickering candles within the room offer an intimate space where ideas, thoughts and opinions are shared, with the words the audience chose upon entering the room acting as starting points for conversation. The Dark Mountain Project are presenting two performances on the final day of Unfix where these conversations will continue.
The first day of Unfix concludes with Sines of Life by VID art/science. This is another audio and visual performance installation, but this time looking at how the regeneration of the body can be measured. Three performers are blindfolded and are sat in chairs within the performance space. Their senses are monitored and projected onto a screen to the back of the room. Red, green and blue lines intertwine as the performers have their feet washed and are gently touched. The show progresses and reaches a crescendo of movement, dance and sound and is an obscure and fitting way to end the opening night of Unfix.
Day two of the festival features a variety of talks and performances that continue the conversation on climate change. Latent Dreams by Katrine Turner is a performance that plays with text and Hollywood disaster movies to express anxiety around climate change and destruction. The performance is sandwiched between two video sequences in which people recall plots from different disaster movies before Turner then enters the stage and sits behind a laptop. We see a Microsoft Word document projected onto the screen to the back of the stage. The performer then begins writing a synopsis for a disaster movie, editing the text as the performance progresses. Here we see how text and words can be used to envision the coming of the apocalypse. Despite the mundane nature of writing and editing text, the manipulation of the narrative keeps the audience gripped and guessing where the story will go next.
The final performance of the day is the absolute highlight. Human Form by Minako Seki draws on robotics, automation and the artificial human body to present an evocative and expressive physical theatre piece. Using Japanese Butoh dance as a framework Minako Seki presents a character who appears to be trying to break free from their robotic shell. It is a claustrophobic dance piece that embraces physical restrictions to express torment and limitation.
A Recipe for Planters Punch by performer and filmmaker Alberta Whittle is a definitive standout on the final day of Unfix and incorporates all the elements that makes Unfix such an important and exciting festival. The piece combines film, props and spoken word to present an explorative performance around diaspora, colonialism and reparations. It asks questions on the world we live in and uses bold and powerful imagery and succinctly sums up why Unfix is an engaging and essential performing arts festival.