I’ve got a lot of love for YESYESNONO. I can’t think of another artist or performer who creates such intimate spaces as Sam Ward and [insert slogan here] feels like the older, slightly more cynical but no less sincere sibling to 5 Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist.
An hour of quiet respite in such an emotionally draining festival
Sam lies on the yellow floor, the beach, whispering into a microphone. I can’t make out all the words over the Ola Rae’s swelling, synth score but that’s ok. It’s not the words or the substance itself that really matters but what we’re feeling. A video of a young boy playing on a beach is projected on the back wall and everything feels… Well for me it felt safe, an hour of quiet respite in such an emotionally draining festival. As Ward (and the Volvo adverts that inspired the show) notes: “To feel. To really feel is a rare thing these days.”
It’s difficult to describe [insert slogan here] because there’s no real plot or narrative holding it together, just Ward’s warm and playful presence and his attempt to recreate the magic of advertisements, evoking meaning and emotions out of nothing. Traces of 5 Encounters on a Site Called Craigslist crop up with Ward gently inviting audience members on stage to build cars and sandcastles, dance and lay out candles whilst teasing out ruminations on love and what home is. The sincerity isn’t quite undermined but is certainly countered by the fact that these intimate moments are filmed, simultaneously making the audience the most important member of the show but also commodifying them. The onstage presence of the sound and video artists lays bare the magic of manipulation but it doesn’t stop it from being any less effective. If anything it makes the whole experience significantly more complex and difficult to digest.
Some reviews have argued it’s all about intimacy, or the attempt to really get to know someone, others have said it’s an attempt to reclaim the power of marketing to more utopian ends. I’m not sure I agree with them, [insert slogan here] could easily be called [insert interpretation here] as it doesn’t feel like it’s ‘about’ anything except what we bring to it.