Mystery Magnet at the Samuel Beckett Theatre

October 28, 2013


Splice the surrealist bent of Salvador Dali with the colourful cruelty of the Animaniacs, the rising dread of a Midnight Movie and the tame tricks of the circus clown and you get a rather crude impression of what Miet Warlop’s magnificent Mystery Magnet is like. At least aesthetically. For you can’t be sure what this supreme spectacle is trying to say for definite. Minus any coherent words, you can project your own thoughts and feelings onto her increasingly disturbed canvas.

The striking images of distorted human forms- elongated frames cut off before the shoulders; overgrown mop like figures in bomber jackets and phosphorescent hair; a morbidly obese security guard – all emerge from a soft, slow set up and build to a multi-coloured and textured crescendo, where coarse, cartoon violence rules the day. Forget the lunatics taking over the asylum. It’s the art work that occupies the gallery here as the differing traits of contrasting forms turn on one another and themselves, throwing up, pissing and farting the most magnificent looking reactions and responses to the visual and actual assaults of art come to taunting life. Mini mechanical cars and toy balloons give way to staple guns and power drills as simple origins get lost beneath extreme measures, the crisp white of the back wall speckled with paint, then smashed through, as the enfant terribles mock and massacre one another before our eyes. Finally, the gallery wall parts, an ode to Damian Hirst appears and the forefathers groan on, awaiting judgement from us, the jury.

It’s full of the same hallucinogenic hilarity and prodding paranoia you get from a mushroom trip, where one thing becomes another, never settling, but morphing again and again, setting you up for one action then surprising you with another. The images tickle you pink(and yellow and green and blue), but as the vibrant vomit and explosive plumes build to decapitation and mutilation(all be it with beautiful bloodshed) the laughter is still there, now fainter and burdened with growing concern.

It’s a wild and wonderful experience that takes the possibilities of modern art and combines them with the threat that anything can happen in live theatre. It’s puerile and psychotic approach reveals the plight of the artist to the audience, chased by the shadows of art gone by, making suggestive but not explicit comment on how the art world gotten to where it is today.

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