Tuesday 27 February 19:05
Violence at Progress Bar
by Ania Prokop
On the first night-shift of Sonic Acts Academy 2018 (Progress Bar Night 1) a person, who looks like a teenager, enters the space dressed in a yellow papal cape and yellow trousers, similar to Oskar Schlemmer’s avant-garde constructions. One half of Olin Caprison aka Violence is covered by a yellow niqab-like piece of material. It takes some convincing of the crowd at Progress Bar, a place that organises ‘political parties supporting radical club culture’, that despite being provocative or following hyped topics, you actually have something meaningful to say.
Violence starts the performance inconspicuously. Olin takes the microphone and starts tentatively singing out of tune, and no-one is sure where this is going. Suddenly the music has stopped, Their face has changed: — “now we’ll start the actual show” Olin announces, as the space fills with harsh noise.
Violence switches the ambiences, gunning between audiovisual dimensions. Pop and grime beats shine through aggressive noise and industrial echoes. Olin romantically sings to synth-pop melodies, then stands on the table, bent double, screaming and growling to an eclectic mix of doom metal, grime and gothic rock.
We were immersed in an environment that was purposefully making sonic contradictions. It felt peaceful then aggressive, weak then strong, divine but dirty. It worked, but it shouldn’t have. These so-called contradictions are theoretical and social constructs, but reality is full of co-existing extremes. The problem is that we filter them to simplify and arrange the world. Violence questions the powers standing behind these filters. Who decides who or what to exclude? Who decides what makes sense? Olin doesn’t give us an answer, but manages to draw out this tension between the real, and cultural heritage as an invention. Even their outfit reflects this complexity.
The stage persona of Violence is a hybrid, created in between seemingly binary categories, perceived as irreconcilable in the past, but which are now being re-examined: fiction and reality, male and female. In a few seconds Violence transforms themselves from vulnerable and shy into a dystopian prophet preaching end of the world mantras (“We’re nothing more than human dust”). Violence moves from a focused, serene performer emerging from pink smoke and flashing lights into someone on the floor with the audience, screaming to the microphone. Their skill is in juxtaposing these extreme aesthetics, combining them not to underline the contrast, but to discover new possibilities.
They claim social violence, hypermasculinity, human archetypes and the oppressive nature of history as the axis of their work. Indeed, their performance triggers thoughts about the state of humanity — a species that believes in its uniqueness and still aspires (but constantly fails) to become something greater. In a world built from binary illusions, Violence hits us painfully, but transformatively with the real.