locust / mockumentary: New Friends In Different Mediums <font size=2>by Adam Sekuler</font> Oct 20, 2006
In respect of full disclosure, I thought I should start by letting you know that I know Amy O'Neal. Not well necessarily, but I've worked with her on a small project earlier in the year. That might not mean much for some, but for a guy who's been in Seattle a mere eight months, knowing anyone at all means that they're a friend.
Now that I have that out of the way, I'll let you know what I witnessed, or rather experienced last night. locust's mockumentary is nothing short of expansive. That is, it's a show on the verge of overload. An attack on your senses; visually, aurally, and viscerally. That might be part of the idea behind this piece, but it is a difficult part of it. I'll set the stage.
Imagine before you three screens, three sets of colored lights, a drum kit, and seven performers who have nearly as many costume changes throughout the show. On the screen stage right discover Zeke Kebble hammering away at his drum kit, in the center, witness a narrative that begins as a mockumentary, but morphs into a horror film, and on the stage left screen an assortment of atmospheric representations of the performance and the narrative. On the marley, which is colored red on the sides and standard black in the center, are the movements of the seven performers, stylistically a mash-up of hip-hop, modern, break dancing, and some pop dance club moves in there for good measure. Now imagine all those elements in combination, separate and together all at once. Are you following me? Right.
At it's core, mockumentary is a playful exploration of genre, both filmic and dance. I'm a filmmaker and film programmer, which means my judgments in this category fall generally on the harsh side. And without fail, I found the filmic elements of mockumentary very well executed, but also instantly recognizable. Beginning with an abrasive yet amusing mockumentary assault on the dance world, O’Neal et al play on every stereotype of the genre. This is promptly followed by a transition into the horror film, complete with zombies, make-up and knives. All this plays a little too well, especially in juxtaposition to the dance, which was rigorous, exciting, and beautiful, again in combination, separate and together all at once.
In lies the criticism of this piece, especially for the uninitiated dance viewer. There is just too much going on. The viewer is pushed and pulled from screen to floor and back again with such great regularity that he finds his head bobbing back and forth in a nodding fashion. The tableau becomes blurred and you begin to lose control of what's going on in the dance and the film. This begs the viewer to ask himself, "Am I to pay attention to both or stick it out with just one." This viewer chose the dance.
In post-performance conversations with fellow audience members, I was surprised to discover that my film friends did the same as me, but the dance world people I met, focused on the film. When given the opportunity to choose, we seem to be drawn to each other's mediums. locust's attempt to combine both elements into a single cohesive program, actually provides two completely different experiences, which might be mockumentary’s greatest success. It’s an opportunity for two worlds of people to collide and appreciate each other, making new friends in different mediums. Thanks Amy for being one of my new Seattle friends.
Adam Sekuler has had his photo taken by the likes of Wim Wenders, Benoit Jacquot, Calvin Johnson, Guy Maddin, Kimya Dawson, all members of the band Deerhoof, Robert Pollard, and some two-dozen other celebrities. Oh.. and he's also the program director of Northwest Film Forum.