“Watch us cope, watch us try to cope, watch us.” We do — we can’t help it — as we find our psychological being exhibited so vividly before us, through raw, limpid physicality, in Adrian Berry’s short online film, whose title conjures human’s innate desire for connection, (no more so than) at a time when distance has become the new protocol.
With a series of acrobatic performances, three circus companies from across Europe, Still Hungry (Germany), Agit-Cirk (Finland) and Lost in Translation (England), collaborate to examine the anatomy of touch, to explore our complex relationship with intimacy, and the impact of its absence upon our lives.
In mostly solitary acts, the performers are balancing multiple chairs on the head, or (tightrope-)walking along the ledge of a bridge, like the precarious posture of an isolated mind. They are tossing a rope at high-speed around the neck, and scaling an impenetrable 100-feet wall, as if desperate to cross to the other side, or flirting with self-destruction. They contort, and they spin, they bend backwards, and they split, the sense of deliberate focus and perseverance etched heavily on their faces.
Shot in their respective cities, against the quiet backdrops of Norwich’s horizon, Helsinki’s wetlands, and Berlin’s architecture, Closer showcases Berry’s interest in revelations from solitude, while bringing together disparate communities in this project. Through the universal language of art, he makes us recognise what we really feel in our exile from others, acknowledge people’s inexplicable need for attachment, the way the consciousness writhes affectedly in its vacancy, not least the deficiencies in pleasure and accomplishments of singular pursuits.
Notably, several hand-to-hand calisthenics included in this collection of movements illustrate feats of body-engineering that are achievable only through partnerships: we witness a pair of artists surmount a giant sculpture, without apparatus, a man holding up a woman on his head, or a woman poised upside-down in mid-air, supported only by his hands.
Admittedly, this 10-minute production seems longer than it is. But, why, is that not how it feels, in a lockdown?