THE PAPER PROJECT
devised by Stella Barnes, Martyn Holland, Almir Koldzic.
Ovalhouse 52-54 Kennington Oval SE11 55W To 14 September 2013.
Runs 1hr 40min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7582 7680.
Review: Carole Woddis 13 September.
Fragrance and fragility brought to a tough subject.
London’s Ovalhouse in its 50th anniversary year have found a dynamic and brilliant way of telling the story of migration from those who experience it and so easily become the subject of demonization in the press.
A theatrical installation devised by award-winning director Mark Storor with a group of young migrant artists, The Paper Project is a subtle, tender account told through a delicate interlacing of smell, colour, sound, texture and ritual.
Installations these days are often used to conjure up fear or terror. The Paper Project rejects that mostly in favour of something rather different: fragility and connection.
“We are all fragile vessels,” a scrawled wall-note declares. Elsewhere another describes the state of exile: “setting sail on an uncertain sea.”
Uncertain journeys indeed – suggested through snatches of performance from five artists, spotlit in pools of light as we enter the main room. A man sits surrounded by earth and small plants sharpening scissors; two women lie sprawled on the floor; another sits in a china cupboard reading aloud in a foreign language.
A young man starts speaking and audience-members are invited to hold him with coloured ribbons attached to his suit. Later the man with the scissors, in an extraordinary show of sustained physical control, slowly, painfully rolls himself up in black paper along an egg-shell littered floor.
Egg-shells are a major motif of The Paper Project along with sadness and alienation from loved ones (a video projector runs a continuous sequence of a young man with friends and family, from a more normal time).
In the last room, drenched in the smell and substance of eucalyptus leaf and tree-bark, a young man lies on a sofa. A voiceover relates: “My body is map, an outline of all my favourite places. I hold my small village in my heart and the Nile in my hand. We walk, my horse and I, in no light, but I am safe.”
For all its unspoken horrors, The Paper Project, remarkably, generates a spirit of generosity – a potent, moving contrast to the welcome so often offered to new visitors in our midst.
Artists: Temor Al-Kaisi, Hassan Al-Mousaoy, Tamara Brenila, Resa Gashi, Salih Ahmed, Tania Cadena, Victor Rios
Lead Artist: Mark Storor.
Lighting: Rachel Shipp.
Composer/Musician: Rosa Brooke.
The Paper Project is dedicated to the 155,000 undocumented children living in the UK who cannot fulfil their dreams of university or a career and live in fear of deportation and is part of the Arts and Migration Festival at Ovalhouse.
It is a partnership between Ovalhouse and Counterpoints Arts and is supported by a legacy grant from the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Performers in The Paper Project are graduates from Ovalhouse youth arts leadership programme. The project is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The Paper Project will also be performed at The Platforma Festival at Manchester University on 2 November.
The Paper Project opened at Ovalhouse, London, on 11 September 2013.