Writers & Readers

All Things West

Andrea Spaziani’s The Right Eye of Clint By Sky Fairchild-Waller
  • Image courtesy of Dancemakers Centre for Creation
April 11-13, 2019, Dancemakers Centre for Creation, Toronto
In The Right Eye of Clint, I see an architect – someone who muses over how designed space and humans converge. An inventor who purposes something anew. I see a woman and a frontier and the familiar pains of possibility. The vastness of this potential is a weight that can form a burden, but it’s also a contest – a tryst between subject and objects, between daredevil and dimensions. 
This performance marks the completion of Spaziani’s three-year term as an artist-in-residence at Dancemakers. Her methods of composition and modes of execution harbours a kind of ecstatic potential, yet her reverence to the form never betrays her wit. It’s mesmerizing: her postural and procedural presence, flanked by terrain as she charts performative hide-and-seek in four dimensions. Her occupancy of the space embodies humanity’s alpha and omega, oscillating between pioneer and survivor depending on the moment in time. These frames equally elucidate the work’s titular homage, invoking the West as the heartiest of nouns – a person, a place and a thing. Her treatment of these linkages is both playful and earnest, perverting dominant mythologies intended to preserve all things West.
What compels the viewer is Spaziani’s quiet determination, her defiant physics, her nimble strategies yielding conceptually supple fruit. What demands the viewer’s active gaze is the perpetual undoing of what you perceive to know for certain – what might follow, where and for what period of time. Such is the curious and circuitous nature of how she sets about making liveness and the physicality that results. As a viewer, I felt safely concealed, the way wearing headphones that play music can isolate you in a space more finite than you perceive but feels more expansive than the space you actually inhabit. 
Unlike work that features multiple performers, where bountiful bodies imbue the viewer’s vision and attention, Spaziani’s work does more with less, consolidating size and scale in order to concentrate awareness. Though it is formally a solo, the visibility of Matt Smith and his sound design are necessary ingredients that make indelible marks on the work. Just as pioneers of the frontier would find safety in numbers, Spaziani and Smith would be restless in isolation. Together they forge a live event that transfixes as much as it bewilders. 
At one point, I thought of rattlesnakes and how their movement carves undulating parabolas in the earth, the way some rivers do. I thought of Lady Liberty transported to a desert, sand-strewn and inquisitively mobile, but instead of a torch, she is wielding a single lit match, calculated, limited and subject to the elements. I mused over the visible futility of a fructose-based kitten heel and the displaced citrus hints of soon-to-be salsa. By the end, I wanted to light her a cigar.
Maybe you’ve felt the kickback of a firing gun or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve touched a four-legged species that could transport you, or kill you, or both, or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you’ve seen a “western” or maybe you haven’t, but the indelible feature of the West is its construction, something capable of being built and also torn down. In The Right Eye of Clint, Spaziani’s majestic meditation on what it was, what it is, what it could be and what might succeed it are all viable forays into the world she builds anew.
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