The Octagon, Dunedin

22/03/2019 - 23/03/2019

Wellington Waterfront, Wellington

21/02/2019 - 03/03/2019

The Performance Arcade 2019

Production Details

Soliloquy is a splintering of self across mediums, an attempt to trace a pathway from then to now. It is a merging of technology, illusions and dance in order to articulate the multitudes that comprise a mind. Soliloquy reflects on the interplay between live and digitally mediatised versions of oneself; real and constructed identities.

Using a series of photographs that chart the life of Jess Quaid as a point of departure, this work proposes that the self can be seen as a fragmented series of identities, experienced across, and defined by, different times and places. Multiple digital presences accumulate around the physical dancer, constructed for shifting contexts, without ever revealing the source images.

Sponsored by Smashed Avocado Ltd.; Seed Funding.

Daniel James is an interdisciplinary artist based in Wellington. With a creative practice that spans over ten years, his work traverses audio and video, robotics, performance, installation art, and interactive electronics. Career highlights include a human scale robot installed at Prague Quadrennial 2015 (New Zealand national pavillion), networked (NZ/UK) audiovisual performances at Museum of Modern Art Oxford and Goldsmiths College, and co-producing the open source film project Stray Cinema (London/Barcelona). Dan holds a PhD in Fine Arts specialising in audiovisual remix performance.

Jess Quaid is an Auckland-based dance artist who works primarily in theatre based, site-specific and improvised contemporary dance performances. She has created and collaborated on numerous works since graduating from Unitec in 2010, including a performance installation for Auckland White Night and a short film adaptation of her full length work ‘The Rise and Fall of Private Empires’ (Rollout Macau 2016).  

Dunedin performances: 

FRI 22 – SAT March 2019
09:30pm & 10:30pm

Performance installation , Multi-discipline , Live stream , Contemporary dance , Dance ,

15 mins

Tangible interactions

Review by Hannah Molloy 27th Mar 2019

Performance artist Jess Quaid and multi-disciplinary artist Daniel James have created a 10-minute site-responsive piece of dance and multi-media performance called Soliloquy, performed in the open space of Dunedin’s lower Octagon, immediately after a series of local community performances for Race Relations Day.

A semi-translucent screen of crumpled white fabric was stretched across one of the fountains, with projections of Quaid, dressed identically as in her physical performance. The physical and projected performances were different but not so much so that I felt I needed to watch both, mostly preferring to watch Quaid herself. Her movement was strong and measured and her interaction with the audience tangible and meaningful throughout the short work.

The performance started about 15 minutes late, no doubt due to the space having been double booked. It was disappointing that the pack down crew for the other performance found it necessary to work in and out of the audience, including being remarkably surly with people who were unintentionally in the way. This, combined with people chatting and the hum of live music at bars just across the road, distracted from the full effect of the performance, particularly the aural component.

The space lends itself perfectly to this sort of performance and every year during Fringe I find myself wishing performing arts could be so readily visible and accessible all year round. Informal and approachable rather than in a theatre or gallery or even a found space, which can be intimidating for those who aren’t veteran attendees. There’s something about wandering through an area and stumbling across someone with their creative practice, finding it just there so you can pause and watch and take home a tiny memory of something beautiful or thought-provoking or weird.


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Shifting vignettes of identity

Review by Jasmine Susic 25th Feb 2019

The Performance Arcade has a buzz about it on this warm summer night, the usually vast open space is awake. The beautifully lit stretch, with mismatched shipping containers lining the pathway, transforms an area I walk down regularly, a multi-purpose area used for weekend walks and the waterfront markets, into a funky arcade and space with creative vibes mingling with everyone present.

Wandering down to the Body Box, a small shipping container with a purpose to house movement installations, I stumble across Soliloquy, a collaboration between Auckland-based movement artist and site-specific creator, Jess Quaid and Wellington-based multi-disciplinary fine artist Daniel James, who specialises in interactive electronics and film. The small stretch of space between the railing and a light post, on the corner of the Body Box, becomes the performance space as Quaid stands strong with a red dress on, a striking contrast between the dark concrete floor and pitch-black sky. There is a white piece of translucent fabric stretched across the corner of the shipping container to the right of Quaid, with a projection of her in the same outfit, standing in the same way as if cloned. From underneath the projection comes a cloud of smoke which wonderfully billows out in the Wellington wind, this in itself is quite majestic and draws me in with its beauty.

Quaid and the projection begin moving at the same time, a string of sustained moments of falling juxtaposed with held positions and gestures and a strong focus directed into the audience. This makes for a fragmented language conveying shifting contexts, and introduces us to the void-like feeling of Quaid’s exploration into a how a person’s different identities are defined by the different space, time, and context they are surrounded by. The flow of movement is often disrupted by a sudden held pose, representing perhaps a vignette of a person’s identity at one point in time before departing again to reach another context.

Quaid is a very capable mover, both fluid and athletic, with a powerful eye focus found connecting to the audience. However, I feel more could have been made of this intimate audience connection, especially due to the fact the piece is in a site-specific, installation performance context. Often I feel disconnected as a viewer to the movement taking place in front of me, I am merely watching rather than experiencing the movement and energy created in such a tangible environment. I would have loved to have seen more use of Wellington’s unique waterfront.

At a point in time the movement on the screen goes on a different tangent to the movement Quaid is performing live, the multimedia on the screen becomes more abstract as Quaid’s double climbs up the screen slowly, James’ play with depth of field is great here. The live and digitised movement reconnect at moments of holding the same position, giving us a point of similarity and connection before the smoke is released changing the position of Quaid on the screen. I really would love to have seen more of an interaction with the consuming cloud of smoke released at four or five points in time during the performance, its magnitude and enormity is overwhelming and fascinating to watch diminish into the sky above. Often Quaid was positioned completely separately to tothe smoke, apart from the final scene which she is consumed by it.

Though it experienced some technical difficulties, a soundscape of Quaid’s voice speaking in a present tense, fragmented and spliced together to create a stream of consciousness type dialogue, is utilised throughout. This adds a layer which I try to tune into at times but distracts me from investing in the performance in front of me. At times I feel like there is too much going on for me to take in one of the other elements. I am not fully aware of the connection between each layer of multimedia at all times, however maybe this is the intended atmosphere, given the themes of confusion surrounding our ever changing identities informed by shifting contexts, time and places. Perhaps each element creates an illusion for the audience so we don’t notice the changes in each element which evolves throughout.  

I’m really happy to see installation and site-specific works being explored through a collaboration of multimedia and movement, it’s exciting that the one woman show can be investigated in clever new ways. I thank both Jess Quaid and Daniel James for being bold and trying new things out, collaborating between different mediums of art and also for being a part of and putting faith in such a wonderfully Wellington pop-up festival.


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