INK ★★★★ Sadler's Wells Theatre | Feb 28 - Mar 2, 2024

Dimitris Papaioannou is an artist probably best known for his creation of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Athens Olympics in 2004. However, his first love was painting and in this performance art piece he explores a series of images reflecting the creative process. The programme notes state that Papaioannou has a childhood memory of a fisherman repeatedly pounding an octopus against some rocks and the tentacles of that memory are present throughout this work. The exploration of memory becomes a source of creation, and in the watery world created on stage the artist seeks inspiration. The set recalls Aphrodite's birth from the sea, but in this case the embodiment of Papaioannou's erotic and artistic aspiration comes in the form of a young man. German dancer, Šuka Horn, appears out of the water, and the struggle begins as the artist seeks to control his imaginative invention, while he also becomes obsessively influenced by it. The creative process becomes a dynamic exchange in which the artist and his inspiration wrestle in a struggle that challenges and changes both. In order for the field of imagination to yield sustenance, however, the artist must control the power that has been unleashed. Nevertheless, when the work of art is born it takes on a life of its own, and INK ends with the artist pummelling his memory to evoke the fount of inspiration once again. Papaioannou has created a visually stunning and completely intriguing work, which like any piece of this kind is open to a variety of interpretations other than as a metaphor for the creative process. However, no matter how one interprets this performance it is bound to beguile, provoke and, perhaps, shock its audience.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo © Julian Mommert

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