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Air Time review at Vaults, London – ‘ambitious, but inaccessible’

Nik Wakefield's Air Time at Vault Festival, London Nik Wakefield's Air Time at Vault Festival, London
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I tried to engage, I really did, but Nik Wakefield’s solo show Air Time is one of those performance art pieces that you either get or you don’t. And I don’t.

The description of the show doesn’t help. Billed as a dance piece “exploring the ecological image,” it essentially consists of bizarre actions, performed to an evolving soundtrack, over the course of an hour. Wakefield positions small plants on A4 sheets of paper. He repeatedly tries to hold his breath. He hands an aerosol around the audience, inviting them to inhale.

There are moments of clarity – him sensually making love with his smartphone to Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin is pretty obviously a comment on how obsessively attached we are to technology – and there are moments of funny – him miserably donning a garish parrot costume, totally bare from the waist down has a perverse humour to it – but for the most part, nope, sorry, I got nothing. Apart from a vague sense that it had something to do with the atmosphere. Or maybe global warming.

But, hey, the music was good. And Wakefield seems nice. Perhaps I just lack the facility to understand it. But if, like me, you value art that’s accessible and able to inspire social change, then chances are this particular piece will not be for you.

I Have a Mouth and I Will Scream review at Vaults, London – ‘funny, fierce, furious’

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An ambitious but inaccessible hour of performance art