Another Other is a 79 minute multimedia performance created by four of Australia’s leading experimental artists: Erkki Veltheim, Sabina Maselli, Natasha Anderson and Anthony Pateras. It is a work that fuses experimental opera, expanded cinema, sound art and installation and is based on a radical re-reading of Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 film Persona.

This is the latest work offered by Chamber Made Opera – a company dedicating itself to creating new works that challenge and re-define the artform. It’s exploratory and exciting and about linking human behaviour to art. Musician, interdisciplinary artist and Artistic Associate at Chamber Made Opera, Erkki Veltheim, explains the main ideas and philosophies running through the work.

“Two main things we’re especially looking at in Another Other are the role of art in society, or whether art can effect genuine and lasting change in people in the real world, and the way our identities and gender are socially constructed and fluid rather than innately given and stable. Can we ever act ‘authentically’, or is our personality always a mask, a negotiation between selfish desires and external expectations? Can art ever get beyond self-referential gestures, or talk about factual events without condemning them to an aestheticised or fetishistic caricature? These questions seems as relevant to us as ever…”

It was Veltheim and Sabina Maselli who had the idea of using Ingmar Bergman’s film Persona as a starting point for a work that combined expanded cinema with sound installation and performance. “We both thought it would be great to work on this with our great friends and colleagues Anthony Pateras and Natasha Anderson, with whom we had done various things in different combinations but never all together,” says Veltheim. “From the beginning, we wanted to make the show as a ‘band’, where we shared all creative decisions in a democratic way. Hence, no ‘composer’, no ‘librettist’, no ‘director’, just four equal voices around the table. We all spent three weeks in Sabina’s dad’s tiny village in southern Italy in the middle of summer, working out ways to translate Bergman’s dark Nordic vision into a live performance work. It was very surreal.”

chamber body

Bergman’s film delves into the horror within (and the paralysing nature of these) and speaks about the difficult nature of truthful responses to horrific circumstances. Veltheim feels the film a perfect inspiration for the work: “The two main ideas that we are exploring in Another Other are integral to how we interpret Persona, and the way Bergman approaches these themes make the original film still feel like a radical work even after 50 years. In many ways, though Bergman was a consummate modernist film maker, Persona opens a rupture towards a very postmodern approach to art-making, weaving a complex web of intertextuality and self-referentiality around a seemingly straight-forward and linear narrative.”

Chamber Made Opera has been in existence for over 25 years and in that time have created: ‘Epic experiences in intimate spaces and Intimate encounters in epic spaces’ for its audiences. It prides itself in remaining the only Australian company exclusively committed to the creation and presentation of original experimental chamber operas. The motto is: ‘We provoke audiences. We support artists from myriad artforms and backgrounds. We create art of our time and place.’

Another Other is a wonderful example of the work of Chamber Made Opera. For Veltheim it is a work that…” transplants a radical, layered re-reading of the central themes in Persona over the structure of the original film, in an audiovisual performance that fuses elements of experimental opera, electroacoustic sound installation and expanded cinema. It eschews narrative for formal interplay of sound and vision, imagining each as a ‘character’, and inserts the spectator within the work to create an environment of imposed, disorientating intimacy. In cannibalising the temporal framework of the original film whilst shedding its dramatic content, Another Other highlights the operations of the various masks, screens and skins that serve as ambiguous markers of our identity. Through moments of darkness, silence and sensory overload, it fluctuates between speculative self-reflection and the ecstatic saturation of sound and image that characterises contemporary media society. Somewhere between utopia, dystopia, tribute and critique, Another Other presents a shaking of the illusion of the self as by turns an unsettling and darkly comical, but above all a physical, experience.’

Another Other 8pm Thu, 18 – Sun, 21 Feb 2016 Venue Meat Market, 5 Blackwood Street, North Melbourne Bookings