“Powerless in a Dubious System” (Translation from Dutch to English)
REVIEW, Karin Veraart on May 26 '10 Volkskrant (The Times of the Netherlands)
TheaterFestival a / d Werf
Plant-Life more than a curious collection of stuff. Utrecht.
Rating Four out of Five Stars: *****
You have the time to incorporate the installation that is part of Plant-Life, theater and visual artist James Beckett (South
Africa, 1977). It is a beautiful, while most curious collection of things, from Polish industrial complexes.
Some devices look dangerously explosive, others quite clumsy. They are placed in a greenish complex corridor behind
the stage, but it is not until the end of the show you're carried past it. You tend 'simply' to walk to the exit, which is a pity.
The special display is worth it and an essential part of Plant-Life (Zaklady na Zycie), a performance presentation in the
Festival a/d Werf in Utrecht.
It all begins on a central stage. There's a man with a hopeless look behind a desk with papers. He reads texts repeatedly,
in three sections, concerned with the emergence of a large industrial venture: detailing a factory, complete with workers’
housing, its own brass band, and a banking system.
But something is not right. There is state interference in the wrong way, of cronyism, -bureaucracy. You know exactly
how it is. The man speaks in fragments, whilst his attitude and tone become insignificant, but apparently significant
things are pronounced, giving just the appropriate surreal and helpless feeling that you, as an individual in a totalitarian
regime, cannot overcome.
When the man occasionally stands to the side of the stage, assisted by two little graceful, robotic assistants, the status of
the picture shifts through deadly repetition, unnecessary handling and a vague but agreeable sense of importance. In this
manner, Plant-Life points to the work of artist Ilya Kabakov who became well known in the nineties for his quirky, witty
and accurate depiction of a dubious (state) system.