“Can it be that you’re not actually good?” In her solo Piece for Person and Ghetto Blaster, Melbourne-based artist Nicola Gunn asks the tough questions of the human condition, all with a wry smile.
Gunn’s world is remarkably bright in both style and story. Thanks to lighting design by Niklas Pajanti, neon colors, shadow play, and lasers overtake the black box, hugging the audience with fluorescent fun. Gunn herself sports a pair of sneakers and pastel pink shorts. With the addition of her boom box, an increasingly retro object to behold, the space feels like a nineties music video might begin at any moment, which, in this author’s opinion, is a really solid aesthetic.
Our anti-heroine’s storytelling abilities only amplify the play’s brightness. Gunn introduces a “moral conundrum”: a woman who comes across a man throwing stones at a sitting duck. What follows for the next seventy minutes is an exploration of morality, goodness, and death that moves like a conversation. Whip smart tangents and (seemingly) candid asides to the house make Gunn an extremely personable storyteller. Jo Lloyd’s choreography spares no sentence of Gunn’s story, pushing the existential quandaries of the show upright, upside down, or even on top of an audience member. Whatever position she’s in, Gunn moves with seemingly boundless energy.
Piece for Person smirks at self-righteousness. In a small but telling moment, Gunn herself calls out the cultural insensitivity of her show’s title. This piece is brave in the ways that all solo pieces are, but Gunn takes it a step further. By criticizing her audience, herself, and everyone else, all while making us laugh, she inhabits a very potent space as an artist. No person or topic is too precious in Gunn’s world, but everyone is totally safe.
PS122's COIL 2017 continues through January 22.