The Spirit part 1: The Camel, Battersea Arts Centre

Image result for the spirit, thibault delferiere

by Euan Vincent

Accompanying the first performance of Thibault Delferiere’s trilogy (directed by Jack McNamara), is a side of A4 paper containing three quotes from Nietzsche. They depict a journey through three transmutations: the spirit as camel, the spirit as lion, the spirit as baby. Like the camel, the spirit desires to burden itself and takes on heavy loads. Once laden it transforms into a lion – where it’s power and destructiveness can create the space for the new. And in that space, the baby emerges –  wide-eyed and forgetful, the spirit can now create unencumbered. That is the journey that the trilogy promises to traverse.

In each performance, Delferiere is accompanied by a different musician. In Camel, Sicilian-born guitarist Giuseppe Lomeo uses a mixture of synthetic drum beats and his own esoteric guitar playing to add a soundtrack to Delferiere’s movement.

Strewn across Maxwell Nicholson-Lailey’s set are a variety of easels, wooden
planks, and stones. From the ceiling – as if Newton never existed – an apple on hangs a long thread. Delferiere enters the stage pulling a weight with a thick rope. He moves to the back of the stage and paints words onto the wall – ‘must’… ’share’… ‘build’… ’harmony’… ’faith’. He fashions a table from two easels and cuts the apple to share with the audience, although removing their will to pick which piece they choose. He then makes several precarious attempts to balance rocks on configurations of wood, watching each time as they fall to the ground. Eventually, he builds a solid structure before picking up a sledge hammer and contemplating its destruction. The message of Camel? – “All our labours are meaningless…meaningless”.

The work is steeped in Delferiere’s understanding of philosophy. In a previous
interview, he noted Heraclitus’s notion of a world in constant flux as a central influence on his art. We can see this in his efforts to control: he toys with the laws of physics (balancing rocks on wood) before letting chaos takes its reign once again.

If Camel’s central themes sounds like a bleak start to the trilogy, I am nonetheless excited to complete the journey through Lion and Baby to see how the spirit transforms. Most of all, I want to see more of Delferiere’s performance. His movement – so ensconced with a singularity of intention – is captivating to watch and his work rich with allegorical themes.

The Camel runs through 29 February, The Spirit trilogy runs through 14 March.

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