Dry ice wafts it’s way across the stage and the beat of the music increases proportionately to the amount of smoke appearing. A crescendo is being sought out as the strobes illuminate the space, on and off, in a manic attack of blinking.
Wind from a fan blows a hole into the night and from within this new found space appears the artist. Naked to the waist and painted from bald head down in an ethereal blue body colour, the artist is clad in a silver skirt which is ruched and metallic, covering the legs, which though hidden imply a hidden strength when brushing up against the fabric, and a square box around which the fabric is tightly wrapped and upon which the feet are presumably balanced. Tattoos depicting themes of balance, yin yang, flower of life and the word bliss adorn the head and lower neck and the eyes are electric blue contacts. The look is striking. The artist has power both physically and in terms of presence. Blue naked breasts thrust outward with nipples erect and erotically charged, carried on a frame that is athletic and strong. Under the body paint is unmistakably a black artist. The face says as much but the power in the physique just confirms this for me.
The dj sprinkles in a new tune which builds slowly to erupt in a vocal and the artist’s mouth opens in lip synced homage. We are witness to another phenomena. Blue/white led light pours out from the cave-like mouth opening, the contrast of light against dark full of magic and profundity. It is mesmerising. The movement is Butoh’esque and the tune familiar, though rendered in a different and somewhat childlike pitch. What is astonishing is the range of emotion portrayed on the artist’s face and in the coiled and deliberate movements. Slow and precise movements which draw out of my very heart emotion that I was unaware sat there. I am overcome with despair, with grief, with pain and anger, with a sense of freedom, with a combination of hopelessness and ecstasy. I am open mouthed. Astounded. A narrative unfolds through the song and the movement asking simply for acceptance.
Am I projecting here or am I sensing the artists very own demonstration of emotion? The truth is I don’t know and nor do I care. I am moved. To tears.
The performance is pure fantasy and yet so very real. I am taken out of myself and placed back on the earth in a different space, holding a new perspective. I am changed. I hear the dj or someone from backstage thank the artist and I am struck by the name.
Later in the club I see the Boy post performance just as comfortable in knee length loose fitting shorts and a baggy t-shirt and I want to say something but I can’t. I feel too old and way too straight.
I knew instinctively I had to write about this and so I just smile and drank my beer and feel what I feel. Over the next two days whilst attending the Arika 13 event Hidden in Plain sight I see Boychild perform three more times and on each occasion I am moved to my core.
I can’t really explain it and for me to access this kind of emotion feels like a positive in itself which does not require analysis.
It is simply pure unbridled feeling and it is a testament to the purity of this performance that an old fart like me can be so moved.
There is hope in the world yet.