St Johns Church, Hackney
The inner sanctum of the church of St John’s presents a screen ready to display the distorted beauty of Xen, Arca’s genderless alter ego.
Before this figure takes centre stage, the collaborators, Arca and Jesse Kanda, are nowhere to be seen. The church violently vibrates. As the images (quite literally) bubble, it seems the artists are dragging you through a car wash with brushes and suds slapping and licking the viewer’s eyes.
This torturous tornado climaxes with Xen ready to entertain their audience. Arca (Alejandro Ghersi) and Jesse have greeted the audience explosively and as Arca sways and gently dances to Sad Bitch, Xen’s movements are perfectly synchronized with the hypnotic motions.
Arca’s set fills the church and unfortunately the resonation is trapped in the dome structure and suffocates his already very processed vocals. The erratic intensity of his music in this condition is borderline frustrating. It quickly becomes a show that is visuals-centric, with Jesse’s elastic figures pinging between each other and Arca ostentatiously strutting through the crowd to Self Defense – the audience remains in awe.
The attention shifts from Arca to Xen throughout the set, exhibiting their willingness to distort perceptions on movements of a seductive nature. Jesse sculpts Xen’s carefree movements for the popular Thievery and the pair intensify sound and movement which cannot be misconstrued as anything but an overtly sexual seduction.
The collaborators continue to bombard the senses, especially in the terrifying penultimate visuals. Arca and Jesse have an exquisite talent of marrying ‘ugly’ sounds and imagery which consequently creates pieces that transcends their contemporaries. It’s no wonder they are in high demand for more extensive collaborations.