Sing Your Life

Sexy Bydel, performance musical in Barcode

  • Barcode is all glass, concrete and sharp edges; only sexy if you’re into cold steel, refrigerator white things. Nevertheless, “Sexy Bydel” was the name of the performance-musical in Barcode last Friday. “Is Barcode the articulation of Oslo’s dream of a new identity?” asked the musical’s press release, hinting at a critical take on the district’s rapid development spurred on by big banks and expensive apartments. But instead of interrogating identity, it felt more like Barcode’s chilly atmosphere had seeped into the evening’s performances. The musical was produced with lots of sound, light and smoke, testifying to a rather big production team and budget. While the performances didn’t always match the level of production. Many were similar in tone and energy, a bit restrained and introverted. Often, the performers would be singing in an overly flat and emotionless way. However, a few performances made very good exceptions, and what was more heartwarming was the overwhelming amount of people who showed up. Even sweeter, most of them stayed all the way to the bitter end, two. hours. later.

    iPad performance by Per Westerlund and friends. Photo: Andreas Breivik

    Mumbling from atop a tall bridge, Per Westerlund was the first act out. He had invited three friends to perform R. Kelly’s “I believe I can fly”, but because they couldn’t make it to Oslo, the friends would perform through Skype instead. Appearing on three miniature iPads, the singers were barely visible, and Westerlund seemed purposefully apologetic about this, and how their different internet connections made for an unsynchronised performance. It all added to a “sing with whatever voice you have” kind of feel, which was cute. But the technology and the remoteness of Westerlund and his singers produced a distance between audience and performers which proved hard to overcome.

    Performance by Kristy Kross. Photo: Andreas Breivik

    A bodacious golden nugget of the musical evening was the performance by Kristy Kross. Kross led the audience across the railroad bridge and into the Barcode district, accompanied by the wailing tune of a saxophonist. She was wearing a golden lame mini dress, high heels, a blond wig, and carrying a huge golden sack, about five times her size. She wrestled and schlepped this oversized «purse» like a fancy lady struggling home from town, constantly falling and rolling over, longing for home and that warm, delicious Grandiosa pizza. This woman was a professional. And this was a real piece of performance art! Attesting to careful planning, thoughtout choreography and long hours tailoring the costume. The piece stood out because of the way she iPad performance by Per Westerlund and friends. Photo: Andreas Breivik Performance by Kristy Kross. Photo: Andreas Breivik put her body to work, you could tell she was fighting for real, while her use of the bridge was smart and site specific. Kross’ piece was generous, funny, it made a statement about rich people, homelessness, and alcoholism. Not to mention the burlesque sexuality even kids could enjoy.

    Rasmussen performed some kind of art manifesto in a white spandex suit. She had positioned herself between a white and brown background in what seemed like a too obvious/too vague comment about color. The piece initially had a vibe of European style club music, but the tone finally settled on all out Performance Art. Her lyrics were steeped in critical terms and theory, perhaps overestimating the attention span of her audience who were more hungry for action and entertainment than lectures on Deconstruction.

    The hosts and organizers of the evening was Sexy Boyfriends. They performed a few songs in a narrow hallway imbued with blue light and lots of smoke. Their chanting “The city! The fjord!, You cant afford the fjord!” carried real tension, and was the closest thing to a heartfelt examination of the district’s identity, as the press release promised. It was like an alternative approach to a curator’s speech. When you flirt with dirt, flowers will grow, the song went, and it reminded me of Pocahontas’: «All you’ll own is Earth until you can paint with all the colors of the wind». It was a genuine emotion behind their voices, I can still hear the song in my head, but it wasn’t carried all the way through. For some reason I thought there was going to be dancing.

    Performance by Anna Daniell. Photo: Andreas Breivik

    A sweet family scene erupted as Anna Daniel rolled up in a sparkling new Tesla, her boyfriend riding shotgun as all of her sculptures were cozy in the back seat. They were listening to music and the car itself looked like it was dancing as the doors and trunk opened and closed. The Tesla is like a spaceship, and everyone seemed astonished by the car. Daniell’s work is a lot about putting sculptures in unexpected situations, charging them with the energy of the scene. This family scene was fused with cool, futuristic elegance and techno desire.

    After the car show we were led on a long walk deep into a parking garage where there could have been a carbon monoxide leak, or just a murderer lurking around for all we knew. At this point we really needed DRINKS and a CLIMAX. Then the Wunderkind Collective appeared with either an ironic/disingenuous, or super creepy, drooling version of Cindi Lauper’s “Girls just want to have fun”. There was some kind of gruesome volleyball game going on, the recording kept saying sloppy vulva, but who decides when a vulva is sloppy? Anyways, this went on forever and ever, flooring the energy among the audience.

    And then a little sunshine. Maybe I was finally beaten into submission, but I think that Niels Munk Plum’s performance was psychologically complex and funny. He paced around in a circle, coyly talking about norse mythology while wearing a wrinkly red kimono. He was reminding me of Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs and I was hoping he would kick me into a well. It was captivating, but Plum’s performance didn’t benefit from appearing so late in the program. The last act was an abstract song/performance by Borgen Åndelig Kor, after which we could finally leave the parking space and breathe fresh air. It had been a long night amidst tall buildings,

    Espresso House and indifferent corporations. But one question remained unanswered: to who’s advantage is it to label Barcode a sexy bydel?