VIDEO-MAKER Susan Francis presented a film evening at New Red Studios which provoked some thoughts about context. Firstly she chose a film by David Podger of a kite flying in a green field that was originally part of an installation in a grass-turfed room. The silent fixed viewpoint image was first intriguing, then boring, and finally mesmerising.

Also chosen was a film documenting a cat’s final journey to the vet. An odd theme for an art video, perhaps, but one context is that its maker Sarah Filmer is herself a vet who has ended the lives of many animals, and this cat was her own.

In this Golden Age of the Cat Video, Filmer put her movie on Facebook, a different context, whereupon she received a number of complaints from shocked viewers. Not very surprising as one watches the cat die.

Contextualisation is the buzzword in art schools. This is to encourage students to think about meaning, but it also offers the opportunity to justify the most badly-made art. In visual art, a useful guide is the words to images ratio in an exhibition catalogue.

I have recently begun a music improvisation project. The first recordings are terrible (in the French meaning) or both awful and awesome. It depends on context.

This is what the festival is getting right. Much has already been written about its success, and it definitely feels like ‘our’ festival now. The free City Encounters weekend was excellent. The best for me was dance act Of Man and Beast by Company Chameleon.

The settings for these performances were of particular interest.

Market Songs was interesting musically and well sung. Having taken part in Voices from No Man’s Land last year I felt the work and the lyrics were less emotionally charged but that was inevitable given the subject matter.

Schubert After Party at the Cosy Club had good music and good performances. The script was maybe over-complex mixing private lives with political intricacies in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Betrayal portrayed the enactment of six jealous murders with song and dance. Brilliant performances all round.

In each case the venue provided context to elevate the performances to another level. The final part of Market Songs in the square felt like a real coming together of both singers and audience. The Cosy Club was transformed into a Viennese café, and the car park setting for Betrayal added brutal realism to what in operatic terms, is pure theatre.

There is always an exception. Wild Willy Barrett, the final act of Salisbury Live at City Hall (and free!), could play all these venues, and the Albert Hall, and always bring the house down.

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