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PERFORMANCE ONLINE Broken Gargoyles, Fridman Gallery, New York

WWI horrors the focus of haunting lockdown show from Diamanda Galas

LOCKDOWN has led to a wholesale change in how art is created, experienced and consumed and the SO⅃OS series at New York’s Fridman Gallery is as good an example as any.

Reflecting New York’s shelter-in-place guidelines, only the performer is present in the room and  the space itself is the viewer.

Over 12 weekly shows inside the empty gallery, each performer makes the space their own, whether with glitch pop from Victoria Keddle, C Lavender’s Impulse Chamber or Diamanda Galas’s sound work Broken Gargoyles.

Galas, perhaps best known for her operatic voice and Aids activism, presents a work in progress which mixes music, video, script and poetry and touches on the victims of war.

In this case, it is the soldiers scarred by chemical weapons, burned by mustard gas or mutilated by machine guns in WWI, with shocking images of the injured soldiers making an appearance.

But in the main this is a mix of off-key music, ethereal screaming and spoken word, all set to a video montage with a  somewhat mixed impact.

It works in places — particularly when Galas intones the words of German poet Georg Heym and his harrowing castigation of war — but the visuals could do with more focus.

It would have been good also to have seen some of Galas — this is more of a projection than a performance and of the other SO⅃OS shows, those with the person in shot make more of a connection.

Nevertheless, Abigail Levine’s repeated running through the gallery or Lea Bertucci circling the room with her saxophone or flute draw you in to the subject more deeply.

SO⅃OS is an interesting take on art in lockdown. Galas’s presentation is obscure, esoteric, haunting but apposite and the SO⅃OS series as a whole is thought-provoking in terms of how art can be created and consumed, even if in part it’s a little too repetitive.

Broken Gargoyles can be downloaded at fridmanlive.com/concerts-and-performances/Diamanda-Galas_Solos.

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