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Chris Dobrowolski's Antarctica - A review
By Max Capon and Tom Laws
In 2008-09, artist Chris Dobrowolski was selected for the British Antarctic Survey’s Artist’s and Writer’s programme, a residency in the Antarctic and Sub-Antarctic that would last for three and a half months.
With funding from the Arts Council to develop the research further, Dobrowolski created a body of work that would begin with an exhibition and include a performance lecture called ‘Antarctica’.
In Folkestone at the Quarterhouse as part of his tour, the artist delivered an entertaining yet educational talk on his experiences at one of the globes most isolated places. Using his computer and projector, he narrates his encounters with nature and all the spectacles that very few ever get to experience.
With material aimed at an audience of around 14 and above he delivers a narrative that almost anyone would be able to follow and find entertaining. Making the evening seem more of a group talk rather than a performance, we were talked to directly in a style that he has clearly mastered. Hearing about his time in Antarctica we also learn about the trials and tribulations of his adventure, from battling fur seals to an extension to his time at sea.
Dobrowolski is an artist who endeavours to combine the real world with a touch of human interpretation. His way of doing this was taking small plastic versions of things from his childhood and putting them next to the real thing, this makes for some very interesting and comedic pictures.
With twists and turns that could only take place in one of the world’s most extreme places, the artist gives a realistic view on what Antarctica is really like with a healthy blend of sarcasm, factual content and nostalgic references that anyone will be able to get behind and understand. It truly makes an interesting show.
The staging was incredibly minimalistic which meant your attention was completely focused on the pictures and topics that were being presented.
Authenticity was key to this show, and the record that had been on the trip, was played to the arriving audience on a record player. This type of theatre is perfect for smaller venues as it engages with the audience and we both felt part of his journey.
Dobrowolski stated at the beginning of the performance that he is not an actor or natural of the theatre - but he could have fooled us.
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