Kunstraum’s Bacchanal: a carnival celebrating wildness, was part of the annual Whitecross Street Party (WXSP) 2019. Artists’ carnival floats and performances – by Bruce Asbestos,Christine Binnie,Luca Bosani,Milda Lembertaitė & Amelia Prazak,Johnston Sheardand Vanessa da Silva– set in motion by costumed stewards and performers to created a wonderfully chaotic carnival procession.
Vanessa da Silva’s sculptural float was activated by the artist and two dancers, continuously merging into and re-emerging from the float’s black and white landscape through their subtle movements.
Luca Bosani’s performance Singolar tenzone II was an improvised quarrel or duel with Hugo Lami. This critique ofhyper-masculinity saw the pair shouting archaic profanities at each other, tensions boiling over into street brawling.
Christine Binnie’s Showing Off stage was a movable curtained stage, allowing the public to close themselves away, put on carnival trope costumes and masks, and emerge to perform for the crowd.
Amelia Prazak and Milda Lembertaitè’s float went through irreversible changes during their performance – solar-powered fountains in the base were hidden behind walls of dissolvable fabric, slowly eroded through the efforts of Lembertaitè as a personified shattered tree.
Johnston Sheard’s float was the backdrop for a wild jam session which re-imagined the biblical story of Lot’s wife, who was turned to a pillar of salt. Costumed musicians – playing guitar, bass guitar, mouth organ, drums and percussion – beat out the soundtrack of the Bacchanal.
Interrupting the procession was a hyper-slow catwalk of Bruce Asbestos’ Autumn/Winter collection. Asbestos collection redefines the notion of clothes in general, with garments made from candy floss or waffles and accessories in bread, fruit and vegetables.
Whitecross Street Party was founded as a grassroots street art festival by artists occupying the former Moorfields Primary School. Inspired by their neighbouring Bunhill Fields – a 17th Century cemetery for adherents to the non-conformist churches – they named it “Rise of the Non Conformists”. Today the festival is part of the establishment – but Kunstraum’s Bacchanal (meaning: a wild and drunken celebration) aimed to recall the festivals grassroots nature and anarchic spirit.