Review

FRINGEWORLD 2018 | House of Joys | 4 stars

by Laura Money

Welcome to the House of Joys. Come in, take your shoes off and enjoy our hospitality. Upstairs at Paper Mountain in Northbridge, The House of Joys is the first of many exciting performance art pieces devised for the Peaks Program for FRINGEWORLD 2018. It is fun, playful, and charming.

Performed and created by KAN Collective – an exciting all-female art collective, House of Joys asks you to leave your inhibitions at the rainbow-tasseled door. You are guided through the playful cubby-house by the vibrant inhabitants, who allow you to explore and discover joy in their comforting and irreverent playground. Upon entering, you are cocooned in a silk cloth – reminiscent of childhood make-believe worlds created in cupboards and bedrooms. You are made to feel safe.

Each member of the House of Joys walks you through an experience – you get out of it what you put in. From a sensory encounter that questions communication and the world around us, to the feeling of encroaching upon somebody’s private pain by listening to their memoirs, it elicits different emotions within the self. It’s a regression to childhood when we first discovered the world through sound and touch as babies, to sneaking into our sibling’s room – feeling the genuine thrill of pushing boundaries.

There’s dressing up and colouring in – this sounds like it’s oversimplifying the concept, however, by engaging in these playful and childlike pastimes, we are able to explore what it is to be human, and to seek joy in the basic. You are asked to pick clothing for the artist, and also for yourself – your choices reveal deep psychological ideas. When asked to draw with your work covered, you are forced to not over-think the issue. It’s a piece of performative meditation that physically slows you down but also insists you actually notice your surroundings.

Being a performance art piece, there’s a cheeky nod to the establishment-run dictatorship of art galleries and museums. It’s fun and clever and asks the big question: what is art anyway? The mockery of authoritative art critics is hilarious and incredibly intelligent. After speaking that rigid and prescribed language, it is liberating to finally set the art free – I’ll say no more on that – no spoilers here! You end your visit in a childlike and incredibly comfortable blanket cubby, listening to a calming audio piece, akin to the final stages of a yoga routine.

House of Joys will challenge you and calm you. It both questions and answers. It’s cajoling but kind. If you need to escape the drudgery of life or even want to re-centre yourself, head over and join in the fun. It will make you re-examine that little word with so much meaning: play.

WHEN:  26 – 28 January 2018 | Various times

WHERE: Paper Mountain | 267 William Street | Northbridge | PERTH

INFO: Tickets $15 – $25 | Duration 45 mins | Interactive | WA artists | THEATRE

LINK: https://fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/house-of-joys-fw2018

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