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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: September 22, 2009 @ 9:34 am

    Final Fringe round-up

    Fiona McCann

    Sixteen days have gone in a flash of burlesque and Borges, of backwards fairytales and manic vegetables, of ping pong pub quizzing and shopping centre shenanigans, and this year’s Absolut Fringe festival has come to a close. But the city that has hosted it, whose street corners, parks, windowsills and bushes have all been colonised by this artistic escapade, is still recovering.

    This year, Dublin was both a backdrop and participant in events which explored its public and private spaces. Among the former were a photo-booth in Stephen’s Green shopping centre, a taxi cab, a urinal and a Dunnes Stores’ dressing room, all part of Veronica Dyas’ Fringe contribution, entitled YOU. Each location presented different experiences for audience members: these included an uplifting examination of body perception and consumer choices in a changing room, and a more profound look at how performance can blur the distinction between private and public in a glasshouse in Smithfield’s Lighthouse cinema.

    Dyas was also a part of the ensemble of artists and theatre folk who came together en masse for Live Art Speed Date, Stoke Newington International Airport’s wacky evening of dating with a difference.

    The dates were with a collection of the festival’s artists who offered up varied performances and artistic experiences, including a Skype call, a marriage proposal, a musical interlude and some whispered poetry, each from separate booths and all four minutes long. While the dates were hit and miss, as dates often are, the variety and general mayhem, abetted by the hosts, DJ and a vodka-stocked bar, ensured a diverting mix of art and alcohol.

    Poetry, music and general storytelling were at work in Sleepytime’s somewhat less successful improvised evening in the close confines of the Stags Head Parlour. The four artists behind It Was a Dream I Had threaded their individual voices through stories and music in an experimental evening of performance art. Although they failed to engage an audience that slowly drifted into their drinks, the soporific promise of the title was at least fulfilled.

    Not so the dynamic and affecting performances by Bruno Humberto and Borja Sagasti in 2 Divide, the first of three shows that made up the Live Collision programme of international live art performance. With bi-polarity as the starting point, these two performers managed to bring together poetry, pathos and pure comedy in a show both profound and uplifting.

    Though the Live Collision shows were among the Fringe programme’s international imports, there was plenty of home grown theatre at work inside the various theatres and along the city streets. Apocalypse When transformed the Cow’s Lane’s streetscape with a dark and cloudlike installation by Irish artists Aideen Darcy and Sinead McGeeney in conjunction with Sweden’s Veronica Forsgren. The black and steely, spiderlike sculptures hanging over the street from last Friday were in fact made from balloons, and members of the public were invited to try their hand at this particular form of sculpture, with props provided.

    Also to be found on Dublin’s streets were 19 window boxes containing various herbs and flowers, placed in their locations by artist Sinead Carey, with instructions to “Please look after these plants”. Those who wished could water or care for the contents, move them using the carts provided at the Fringe Headquarters on Sackville Street and even take them home. This was all part of Carey’s examination of our urban environment and how nature can be reintegrated into the cityscapes. According to Carey, all of the plants were taken within the first three days, and the whereabouts of 18 of those remains a mystery.

    Dublin not only hosted such shows, but found itself the subject of others, such as Tadhg O’Sullivan’s Bow Street, a haunting portrait of one Dublin street, with its cracked pavements, huddled homeless and footprints of those who walk through. Stunningly shot by Feargal Ward, the often inaudible audio takes second place to grim and glorious images of a street observed anew. And for each of the 16 days, a magazine was produced by the folk behind Oh, Francis to be collected from their Essex Street headquarters daily. Oh! Fringe comprised hand-sewn individual editions with Fringe news, photographs, interviews and each with one panel from an illustration by Killian Dunne on the back, to be pieced together, jigsaw fashion, at the end of the festival. Absolute art.

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