It's not often that a miscarriage forms the basis for a work of art, and even less often that the artist is a man. Daniel Somerville's latest experimental dance work, a freehand three-handed delineation of the kaleidoscope of loss, is being shown as part of The Place's 2011 Resolution! season which has had mixed reviews thus far.
This piece takes half an hour and the whole of your attention as Somerville describes the event with the painful precision, power and honesty that can only come from personal experience. Whether by design or coincidence, he uses (as well as himself) two female dancers (Madaleine Trigg and Julia Barnett) with different body shapes suggesting the temporary duality of the mother-not-mother, a duality which is not just physical but emotional as both body and mind come to terms with the changed circumstances.
The shock and horror of the event are well-realised throughout with infant cries, white facepaint and red-painted necks amplifying the effect. Balloons are employed in different ways. In one scene, Somerville appears with them stuck around his body before removing them one by one as the despondent father-no-more abandons his thoughts of birthday parties and other celebrations. Later, Trigg tries to pick up the balloons but never has space for them all; indeed, the more she collects, the more she drops until the balloons are all scattered around the stage. In conclusion, Barratt and Somerville combine well together and in tandem as the couple are shown to move on from their shared tragedy.
This is not an easy work to sit through for anyone with a smidgen of empathy; this soul baring and mind searing display will stay with us for a while. If you want to see Mr Somerville in action, he'll be on stage at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern tomorrow night at around 10pm doing a piece called “Sex work / Rosenkavalier … or my Shawshank moment”.
Madaleine Trigg will be appearing in hologram form at the Kinetica Art Fair next week performing her signature work Sutre.