Festival: Exquisite Corpse

Exquisite Corpse Adelaide Festival 2016Zephyr Quartet. The Space Theatre. 7 March


Surrealism and its mysteries are timeless. Because the joy of surrealism is the magic it creates from things ordinary, which is always timeless.


Zephyr Quartet’s Exquisite Corpse is a richly beautiful work, redolent of sounds and images completely within the spirit of the original game of collaboration of the same name. An artist gives to another artist the end piece of a work they’ve created. That artist uses this piece to create their bit of work, passing on the end of that creation to another artist. Repeat.


Founder of Surrealism André Breton’s words, quoted in the program concerning the game, clearly note Exquisite Corpse’s content, “could not be begotten by one mind alone, and that they were endowed, in a much greater measure, with a power of drift that poetry cannot value too highly.”


Twelve pieces of music, accompanied by a fabulously Robert Crumb style series of fantastical animations, washed over the audience in an hour seemingly too short to contain the rich depths of musical and visual inventiveness gifted to the audience.


Drift and poetry says it all. Belinda Gehlert, Emily Tulloch, Jason Thomas and Hilary Kleinig play as artists in thrall to each composer’s especial musical expression, managing deftly to give full life to each piece as the work passes from one composer to the next, no matter the great number of pieces there are.


Combined with Jo Kerlogue and Luku Kukuku’s ravishing animations, a profoundly rich and dense visual, emotional poetry of hope, decay, resurrection, darkness, perversion and enlightenment offers itself up.


The wistful grace of Zephyr Quartet’s playing belies the very great depths of darkness some of these pieces of music reach, amplified often by the animations. Yet, it is darkness imbued with a wonderfully delicately cerebral, considered and romantic expression, gently and carefully expressed in each passage of cello and violin they were written for. Hence the contrast with the brightest, quickest works is all the more apparent, magnifying, alike to a microscope, the very many layers within the work as a whole.


David O’Brien


When: 7, 8 March

Where: The Space Theatre

Bookings: Closed