(I Could Go on Singing) Over the Rainbow

★★★★
music review | Read in About 2 minutes
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2016ICOULDG ARC
Published 03 Aug 2016

Collect your teller machine token and step into an apocalyptic fairground. In exchange, you’ll receive a fiercely intimate one-to-one serenade of Judy Garland’s renowned 'Over the Rainbow' by the electric performance artist F.K. Alexander. In this simple yet exquisitely layered noise opera, the myth and memory of Garland dematerialise in front of our eyes, before reforming, hideously yet hypnotically, into an eerily life-like figure.

Backlit by two violet LED towers, and supported with thumping bass by Okishima Island Tourist Association, audience members are invited to occupy a large ‘X’ taped to the floor. They hand their token to Alexander, who throws on a glitter jacket, a pair of golden—not ruby—slippers and applies fresh lipstick before belting out Garland’s final recording. She does this over, and over, and over again.

An initially uncomfortable experience is replaced by a thrilling and attentive meditation on the ethical tensions of immortalising iconic art. After all, there’s something comically excruciating about forcing Alexander to channel Garland on repeat. Art is not immune from our licence to tire of it; each audience member creates an opportunity to both celebrate and re-live Garland’s final performance, but also to mutilate it.

This epic song is shrunk down to a moment of two people staring into each other’s eyes, commemorating history, winking at the afterlife, laughing at oblivion. It’s beautiful and sick in equal measure. How might we connect the romance of history with the brutality—and finality—of death? I Could Go On Singing confronts this question, desperately, mightily, and doesn’t look away.