Review: Tropical Hypeisms‏ (PACT Centre For Emerging Artists)

pactVenue: PACT Theatre (Erskineville NSW), Jan 13 – 16, 2016
Choreographer: Caroline Garcia
Cast: Caroline Garcia

Theatre review
Discussing the effects of colonisation on many of our racial identities is a highly complicated one. It requires an understanding of histories/herstories that we might be able to research and study, but will ultimately involve nostalgic longings of an imagined past that can no longer be wholly authentic. Caroline Garcia is a post-colonial artist interested in the evolution of identities based on ideas of gender and ethnicity as they relate to the Westernisation of cultures. Tropical Hypeisms is a work that appreciates the complexities of those concepts and makes representations that are similarly intricate and elaborate.

There is certainly no watering down of what the artist wishes to say, which means that deciphering her consolidation of symbols can be challenging. Garcia rejects conventional approaches of berating and castigating the forces of domination, and attempts to present a personal conception and experience of what it is like to be outside of the mainstream, and the results are truly unique. Her show is charming yet bold, with a sensational cocktail of sounds and music by Mei Saraswati, and costumes by Matthew Stegh providing an aesthetic that is quite close to being original. Lighting could perhaps assist better with some of the more languid portions of the production, but Garcia ultimately wins us over with charisma, and the confident physicality of every sensual dance.

Invoking Carmen Miranda and Josephine Baker, Tropical Hypeisms is an exercise in locating the self through the deities and divas of one’s choosing. We look into mirrors that do not lie, but how we receive its reflective messages depends on what we want to see. We can accept the impositions of social norms and their requirements, or we can turn against them, to investigate something that corresponds with what we believe to be true. It is a question of soul, and of getting to the heart of the matter.