Rush Puddle Cycle Burst:

Iris Colomb responds to Alicia Radage’s

Insomnia Hot Autumn


A small wooden chair is placed on a wide translucent sheet. A reddened sea sponge lies on the chair. A set of A4 pages rests on the sheet. A thickening curve of audience members gradually huddles around these materials. I don’t identify the sponge, or the period blood it contains; I don’t notice the speaker facing the chair, at first. Radage’s light steps circle towards the sheet. Anticipation flutters through the babbling audience. Loose stretches. Light claps. Stuttering strides. Gentle oscillations. Almost there. Not yet. When I next look up, Radage is standing on the chair, pages in hand, bare toes resting on the sponge, facing us as if to make an announcement. They begin to read aloud, unamplified.

“I lie awake at night wondering why I’m awake”
“I lie awake at night wondering why I’m boiling hot”
“I lie awake at night wondering if I’m full of parasites”
“I lie awake at night wondering why I’m not fixed yet”

An eclectic rush of insomniac thoughts steadily gushes through the text’s repetitive structure. Radage’s reading continues; their voice steady and urgent as they disclose doubts, questions, apprehensions and musings of various tones and intensities. Suddenly, a sonic landslide overpowers speech. The speaker facing the performer releases an erratic cluster of sounds - recorded improvisations of distorted drums and cello developed by Radage’s collaborator, musician Jasper Llewellyn - which bounce across the room. Radage’s voice, still partly audible, rises and persists. The reading proceeds without interruption and Llewellyn’s sonic interjections swiftly evaporate, leaving the performer’s voice bare and exposed once more. A flood of doubts, fears and playful contemplations pours into the audience, each new consideration prizing our imaginations open to release a vast pool of possible answers and potential experiences.

I lie awake at night wondering when I’m going to die I lie awake at night...
I lie awake at night...
I lie awake at night...

Radage’s toes dig into the sponge at their feet as they read, occasionally releasing a few red drops which gently trickle onto the sheet. The text continues to flow, its persistent premise holding the various components of Radage’s insomniac inventory together. Each line brings its own tone and atmosphere to the relentless stream of thoughts swirling around us; whimsical, moving, mundane, powerful, funny and painfully relatable. Frantic profusions of sonic interference occasionally burst through, intermittently obscuring Radage’s words.

I lie awake at night...SHKRLKTiyiyiyiKTLWRK...when I need some
I lie awake at night wondering if I’ll ever get rid of...DKKKliyiyiiKDRSH
KRKiyiiyiiKSHDRLK why I’m so worried...RKiyiiyiiSHKDDRK... million people
I lie awake at night wondering why...WDRRRKiiyiyDKiiyiiRKiyiiySHK

As sound and speech collide, a dialogue forms between the two speakers; between the continuous gush of Radage’s unamplified confessions and the intermittent spasms of noise projected through the amplifier standing in for Llewellyn. Parts of Radage’s inventory become increasingly difficult to grasp, reminding me of the lack of control that can be felt when attempting to resist the insidious pull of intrusive thoughts. As my mind repeatedly falls in and out of sense, I start to surrender to moments of semantic collapse. Perhaps there are things I shouldn’t be hearing, thoughts deliberately hidden or discarded. Efforts to parse become synonymous with a form of intrusion. The inanimate speaker shields the speaking performer, its rhythmical outbursts standing between them and excessive vulnerability.

SHKRLSHKDK... DiiyiyDKiiy... sliding doors...RKiiyiyKDiiyiiy... ten-year-olds
I lie awake at night wondering what it would be like to have siblings
SHDKKKiyiiKD...KKiyiiKD...SHDKKK...struggling to latch on to...KSHiyDKiiy
I lie awake at night wondering if that’s why I....RRRKRKRiiyiyDKiiyi

A shallow pool gradually forms below Radage’s feet as unwanted thoughts and menstrual blood are progressively released. The vicious cycle of insomnia, that extended interstice between states of consciousness, resonates with the physiological transition of menstruation. They are combined to form a new hybrid process, fuelled by Llewellyn’s sonic bursts and the pressure of the performer’s toes. The piece merges these two cyclical phenomena, producing an aggregated form of discharge. Physical and psychological waste, carefully collected, recorded, and compiled, are presented to us as they emerge. As Radage reaches the end of each page, they let it drop to the ground. When the fourth page meets the plastic sheet and they are left empty-handed, they promptly step off the chair, signalling the end of the piece. The bleeding sponge and its menstrual puddle remain; soon to be retrieved and used elsewhere.

Insomnia Hot Autumn by Alicia Radage, as part of the Pretty Doomed opening performances
Still image from video documentation selected by Iris Colomb as compliment to responsive text, documentation courtesy of Marco Berardi & Baiba Sprance - 2023.

-> Read more about the complete FACET programme HERE

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