Tuesday Talk: Ximena Alarcon and Ron Herrema review

18th March 2016 at 15:36

Review by Megan Day-Haynes

The performance began with the two individuals sat across from each other, both surrounded by sound equipment and slightly unusual items. The male performer, Ron, started the sound experience by swirling a wooden beam around the edge of a wooden dish projecting a sweet, high pitched whirl of sound. The female performer, Ximena, then began to swish water around in a saucepan. The microphone picked up the tiniest sound and heightened it, thus making the whole space a cacophony of water. The performance continued in this fashion, with the two performers using speakers to project spoken word, unusual equipment to create sound and then improvisation.

Interestingly, whether the performers had intended this or not, but the whole performance had a sort of tribal feel. Ximena was stereotypically using domestic items to create sound and Ron used wooden, solid items. Their performance was mostly improvisation and the use demanded deep listening. Prior to the performance the two artists had written individual texts of their speech and orchestrated the use of sound, but it s then dependent on chance and the first delivery to bring it to life.

The over layering of sound at some points is intriguing: the performers are speaking; there is a projection of recorded spoken word and then the sound of the physical sounds the performers are creating. However, at some points there is little clarity, perhaps this is the point. Indeed, the over layering of sound was excessive at times.

After the performance, the artists explained how they develop the piece. They first pick a theme, for this performance it was ‘Mixing’ and then using this theme they both individually depart to create their own improvised set. The idea of ‘Mixing’ is explored in the broader sense, from the simple movement of mixing food, to the mixing of cultures and heritages. Both the performers are from different heritages and by bringing each other together, they have somewhat amalgamated or mixed their cultures.

The performers were asked if deep listening informed their performance. The answer: “Yes.” Ron continued to remark that: “Deep listening is hugely improvisational. It is a difficult task being attuned to listening to the other performer and then your own performance.” Ximena continued: “If you are listening you should not be scared.”

The penultimate question to the two individuals was by far the most intriguing: “How do you decide when the performance ends?” At this point, both of the performers looked at one another. In a way, one can assume the answer to the question. The two individuals are a married couple and thus it is evident, especially in their performance, that they are very attuned to one another. Ron answered: “Sometimes it’s very clear and sometimes it isn’t.” Ximena continued: “Yes, because we are connected it is easier to know, but it is purely about listening and feeling the energy. You can feel when the energy starts to warm and grow and then when it cools you know you are coming to the end. A very good question though.”

Therefore, it is evident that through sound and improvisation, these performers have found a superior regard for listening and feeling the sound. Whether, the performance is truly coherent or whether that matters is purely up to the audience. However, it is safe to say that sound-scapes as a form of art are here to stay.



Alarcon, X, Harrema, R (2016) Sound Performance [Performed in the Peter Scott Gallery] 08/03/2016