Did you know... that the Holloway Road is thought to be named after the dip or 'hollow' in the road made by cattle as they made their way along the main cattle route into London, although some say it could also refer to the word 'hallow' after the pilgrim route to Walshingham Did you know... that Wanstead Park was once one of the greatest houses of the day, comparable to Versailles or Blenheim Palace Did you know... Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, who became England's most famous landscape architect, once applied for the post of Master Gardener at Kew, but was rejected Did you know... when you arrive at the Horniman Museum, you will be greeted by a 20-foot tall totem pole, carved in 1985 as part of the American Arts Festival by Nathan Jackson, a Tlingit native Alaskan, and depicting figures from an Alaskan Legend of a girl who married a bear, with an eagle (Jackson's clan crest) at the top

Monday, 14 May 2012

Event/Exhibition: The Hounds of Love / French Riviera

ALIGHT: Shoreditch High Street

© French Riviera
Apologies for the delay – ever since we walked into the Bethnal Green Working Man's Club (42-44 Pollard Street, E2 6NB; www.workersplaytime.net) on Thursday Night to see Das Hund vs. Weed Dawg's mesmerising performance, I've been standing on the shore of a beautiful Swedish lake, staring into blissful space, with not a care in the world. I'm calling it the Das Hund Effect.

Envisioned and produced by artists Jennifer Lewandowski and Samuel Levack (aka Das Hund; www.levacklewandowski.com), the night is a combination of live experimental music, psychedelic infused projections and a meditative performance by fellow artist Leslie Kulesh (aka Weed Dawg; www.lesliekulesh.com). With a raft of recent exhibitions, music nights, catwalks and even Vogue embracing a new wave of psychedelic expression (yes, there is tie-dye on the horizon) could we be in for a third Summer of Love...?

Anyway, there we are, down in the basement of the Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. A dimly lit cabaret bar provides a suitably ambient environment for the repetitive, murmuring sway of Das Hund’s opener Normal Love. The audience sit not more than a few inches from the stage, as up close and personal as you can get, rubbing shoulders with their fellow cognoscenti. The mood is mellow but heavy with expectation. For a brief moment, I catch the thick basement bar smoke of yesteryear.

© French Riviera
Behind the band is a floor-to-ceiling projection of Levack and Lewandowski’s latest gallery piece Danse-moi de le fin de l’amour (until 26 May 2012). For those who haven’t caught the show at their artist-run space French Riviera (309 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6AH; www.frenchriviera1988.com), this signature piece is a trippy, slow-motion mélange of 10 or more friends and acquaintances, visibly entranced by the beat of a tune – each dancer chose their own music when filmed – but then re-captured by an overlaid French version of Leonard Cohen’s Dance me to the end of love; the duo also use a clever combination of coloured gels and reflected lighting to project their dancers into a virtual cinematographic nightclub, suspended in time as the film plays out on a continuous loop.

© French Riviera
The music is designed to reverberate and, nicely inebriated with a glass or two of wine, we’re well on our way to another dimension when Weed Dawg / Leslie Kulesh takes the microphone. ‘I want you to stare at the line between the dancers on the wall, she says in a soft Midwest drawl. ‘Keep staring and when you feel ready close your eyes and let yourself drift off.’ I’m happy to zone out. Kulesh then leads the audience through a relaxing visualization exercise.

By the third step, I don’t know where the rest of the audience has gone, but I’m somewhere between a 1960s’ soirée and that lake in the Swedish archipelago… with maybe a quick trip to a Goan beach in between, or possibly all at the same time. It’s tempting to open my eyes and see whether the rest of the audience is zoning out too, but I resist. I must relax my eyebrows. Slowly, Kulesh begins a countdown from 10 to zero.

By eight, I've edged away from the shore. Five, we’re opening our shoulders and relaxing our fingers. Three, and we hear the strains of Normal Love breaking through in waves again. Zero, we’re back to reality again, the pulsating beat of a drum machine urging the room back to life. And the dancers? They dance on, mesmerised and oblivious to anything that has just gone on. They’re already there, at the end of love. 

Listen to Normal Love

  • Catch Danse-moi vers la fin de l’amour at French Riviera by Levack and Lewandowski, until 26 May 2012
  • French Riviera, 309 Bethnal Green Road, E2 6AH 
  • Open Friday-Sunday, 12-6pm & by appointment 
  • Admission free
  • Alight: Shoreditch High Street; walk 5 minutes


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