Survivor vs A Winged Victory for the Sullen

Two cultural outings for me last week; one outstanding and inexpensive, one outstandingly awful and outstandingly expensive…

The first offering was a trip to London to see the premiere of Hofesh Shechter and Antony Gormley’s Survivor at the Barbican, a performance piece billed (by the Barbican) as one of the cultural events of the season.  Having seen the last piece Gormley collaborated on with a choreographer (the brilliant Zero Degrees) twice, I was fairly excited about seeing Survivor and paid for top price tickets to ensure good seats.   The opening didn’t disappoint – the Barbican Theatre’s big metal curtains opened first to a eye-wateringly bright beam of light shone onto the audience, closed and then opened again to show a line of people, each barely illuminated from above by a single dim light…

… I’m afraid it went straight downhill from there.  I won’t go into the painful hour and twenty minutes in detail but will mention the awful drummers, the ‘let’s film the audience and project it onto a big screen – won’t it be brilliant’ moments and the ‘here’s some footage of running water’ as being particularly memorable.

One comment has been that Survivor was like an end of year show from the local drama college and to be honest it was.  It even looked like there were enthusiastic parents in the audience clapping wildly at the end.

However, on Saturday I went to see ‘A Winged Victory for the Sullen’ at Manchester Academy.  AWVFTS is a collaboration between a composer called Dustin O’Halloran and Stars of the Lid’s Adam Wiltzie.  I won’t attempt to describe their genre of music but it was incredibly beautiful and atmospheric and I left feeling uplifted and massively in awe of their talent.  Go to Boomkat to listen to some of their tracks and read a review…

So… by the time the dogs had gone into kennels, the car had been filled with diesel, the congestion charge had been paid and we’d had something to eat, Survivor had suddenly cost two people eight times what A Winged Victory for the Sullen cost.  Ho hum…

One more rant…Survivor cost everyone in the arts world a lot more than that, especially those of us that might be considering a grant from the Arts Council.  £95,000 more…

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