The visceral performances of New Noveta are responses to what the duo, Keira Fox and Ellen Freed, see as a pervasive atmosphere of conformity and control within society. At the core of their kinetic, discomfiting live actions is often a physical task, the objective of which is not obvious. Their Sisyphean performances – which take everyday ‘task-fulfilling’ as a stock principle – magnify the dual poles of labour and estrangement within the now-mandatory management and regulation of the self.
Without a pronounced beginning or end, or the climactic arc often promised by other performance art, their energetic works provoke an acute sense of self-awareness in the viewer. Their performances might be described, positively, as exercises in futility: taking on a task while self-obstructing its realization. The performances stage a universally applicable feeling of despair that today’s control society attempts to hide or suppress. New Noveta unveil what have become ingrained distinctions between performer, what’s performed and the onlooker in a way that refuses to be pigeonholed purely within categories of spectatorship or spectacle.
For each project Fox and Freed take on abstracted characters that reflect apon social gendering and display heightened stereotypes. Through live interaction with props, installation and vocalisations, they convey scenarios drawing on sociopolitical events of past and present, myth and folklore as well as popular culture and couture fashions, performing elaborately costumed in formats akin to musical theatre or opera, and often narrated by compositions by cohort electronic musician David Aird AKA Vindicatrix.
“Belladonna” scrutinises the sociopolitical stigmatization of female alcoholism, the gendered disapproval towards women being intoxicated, it differing from general attitudes toward male drinkers, that being social acceptance and normalisation. Even though women commonly bear the brunt of capitalist society they are often shamed for any softening to the coldness and harshness of its patriarchal structure. Thus the work does not celebrate the female alcoholic as such but draw on notions like despair, necessity and revelry, stressing the intrinsic empowerment affiliated with the vulnerability induced by inebriation.
For “Belladonna” Fox and Freed will collaborate on a new recorded and live acoustic improvised sound composition with musician Vindicatrix, and will wear costumes designed by the pair.
New Noveta formed in London 2011, they have exhibited and performed on numerous occasions internationally, including Kunstverein Freiburg, Arcadia Missa (London), Liste Kunstmesse Basel, Ludlow 38 (New York), ICA (London), Tranzitdisplay (Prag), Serralves (Porto), YERA Alt CPH (Kopenhagen), TROPEZ Sommerbad Humboldthain (Berlin), Centre d’art contemporain – la synagogue de Delme (Delme)…