Full of surprises

Douze by Xnthony, part of SPILL Festival 2014. Photo: Conor Clinch

Douze by Xnthony, part of SPILL Festival 2014. Photo: Conor Clinch - Credit: Archant

The Spill Festival is one of the most startling dates in Suffolk’s cultural calendar. Andrew Clarke takes a look at some of the highlights in this year’s event

Mehmet Sander and John Bowers bring Animate Objects In Sonic Action, part of SPILL Festival, to Danc

Mehmet Sander and John Bowers bring Animate Objects In Sonic Action, part of SPILL Festival, to DanceEast this autumn - Credit: Archant

The Spill Festival returns to Ipswich this month presenting a varied programme of cutting-edge performance art around the town.

The festival is the brainchild of Ipswich-born performance artist Robert Pacitti who brought the event to Ipswich in 2012, having staged the showcase across London for five years.

Spill is a highly experimental event which brings together an eclectic mix of international performance artists who aim to explore ourselves and our world in an unpredictable way.

The Spill Festival is run by The Pacitti Company which is based at The Think Tank next to Ipswich Museum. This year’s event will run over five days and will feature what curator Robert Pacitti describes as 60 uncompromising events which will include live performance, installation, film and discussion.

Robert Pacitti - creator of the SPILL Festival

Robert Pacitti - creator of the SPILL Festival - Credit: Archant

He said: “This year we are enabling a sprawling spectrum of performance art which will explore the theme of Surrender. We will have 60 unique events taking place in curious spaces, from an old police station to churches and galleries.

“As always we will be unearthing upcoming talent who will be displaying their work alongside more established performers.”

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Over the six years it has been running Spill has quickly gained an international reputation and this year’s festival features performers from more than 20 countries offering a programme packed with world premieres and Spill commissions.

Robert said: “As a festival which champions the public response and role of art in society, Spill will run a Think Tank programme alongside the performance schedule, specifically devised to spark public conversation and encourage active responses to the work on show.”

spill festival 2014

spill festival 2014 - Credit: Archant

The festival will premiere Animate Objects in Sonic Action at the Jerwood DanceHouse, a collaboration between sound artist and technologist John Bowers and choreographer Mehmet Sander, while critically lauded singer-songwriter Scout Niblett will perform an exclusive, intimate performance, sharing tracks from the sonorous, atmospheric album It’s Up To Emma. It will be her only UK date this year.

Meanwhile, an evolving work by indigenous Australian performance/installation artist Sarah-Jane Norman, which considers the living essence of so-called ‘dead’ languages, will unfold over the course of three-days. She will hand-engrave a complete dictionary of the languages of the Gadigal and Cammeraygal people on to the prepared bones of sheep and beef cattle.

Award-winning UK artist Ray Lee will be exploring the hidden world of electro-magnetic radiation and sound as evidence of invisible phenomena. This sound installation using a forest of metal tripods with giant rotating arms, oscillating to a multi-layered electronic composition, will open Spill 2014 and remain installed for the duration of the festival.

Participation is always part of Spill and this year the festival has commissioned a community performance of the 70s musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Staged by the Getinthebackofthevan company this will take place at the

New Wolsey Theatre.

Robert Pacitti describes this new version as being rather akin to a bare-knuckle fight with a taboo subject.

“This unique version of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas explores exertion, desire, cliché, the epic and will be unlike any musical you have ever seen.”

Meanwhile, The Gob Squad will be asking “Are You With Us?” which will be an improvised performance which challenges them to ask each other the questions they are afraid to ask – part group therapy, part nightmare.

There will also be a living installation in the form of Adam Electric’s The Machine Legends. A performer is encased in an airtight latex structure and uses their own breath to maintain a vacuum which creates a figure that explores the ideals of fictional mythology and the human body.

There will also be salons and workshops looking at how artists can take risks with their work, using and adapting the body and your psyche for performance and a symposium on death and dying.

The Spill Festival of Performance returns October 29 – November 2 in Ipswich