REDDRESS is even more dramatic in person than in the photographs. Really! Part installation, part performance space, the dress dominates York Hall, the legendary boxing venue in Bethnal Green, flooding the venue with colour. It is intended to be worn by a musician, while the audience nestles among the dress’ folds of fabric, emanating out from the skirt. Imagine wrapping yourself in the 550m of Kvadrat wool, and catching a performance. Yes please!
Aamu Song, one half of Finnish creative duo COMPANY conceived of this project in 2005. Since then, it has toured Europe, being exhibited in a whole heap of architecturally interesting settings hosting concerts and events. Song explained how the setting is extremely important and they spend a lot of time researching venues.
With York Hall, they made their first site visit in April in order to determine how to “balance the installation in the building. “Each building or setting has a history, its own style and power,” she said.
The white concertina paper curtain was created for York Hall to conceal your view, so you see REDDRESS for the first time from the stage – a clever indication that you won’t merely be a spectator in the experience. REDDRESS “connects the performer and the audience” in a unifying, shared encounter reducing the distance and sense of formality. When you’re just in your socks (you have to take your shoes off), you immediately feel more relaxed, not like you’re about to see a performance.
Song says “it’s totally different in new places with a new audience. The audience are acting as well as the performer, and their reaction creates a different concert.”
The process of assembling the installation is almost a performance in itself involving Song and Johan Olin (the other half of COMPANY) working with a local crew, and “getting sweaty” constructing it; the red wool is intense and is quite hypnotising.
And, why is it red? Song replies that red is a very dominant color, reflecting the image of a strong woman at the centre of the piece. Superb!
REDDRESS has been organised by the Finnish Institute in London.