Unboxed by Ariel Doron

18 11 2021

Unboxed. Credits: Andre Wirsig

Author: Urtė Rimkevičiūtė

That feeling when:

you go to the theater with your Nan and at the end of the performance she stands up and shouts in her loud, slightly raspy from smoking voice: Bis, Bravo! At that moment you stand hunched, squeezing your fingers and hoping that your coolest classmate who is sitting a couple of rows away from does not recognize you. Nan differs from me in my heavy boots covered with trippy skulls only in several answers. I do not know them. But today I am standing next to my Nan.

The creator of this work has already been to Lithuania during the puppet theatre festival Materia Magica in Klaipėda. Maybe you have seen him. However, I am seeing Ariel Doron for the first time. There is a rather silly image of a self-absorbed Youtuber/influencer that creates a rejection reaction. My exterior intellectual aesthete is quite cautious. It speaks rather loudly: It’ll be lame, I am above that, I won’t like it. I take this bait but continue to critically observe everything like one of those idiotic unboxing videos. I don’t like anything: the lights, the unconvincing parcel box, the badly made label imitating Chinese exports. Everything is lame! Not to mention the actor’s hairstyle from the 1980s, which, on the other hand, might be a reference to the marginal side of puppet theater. For me, puppet theatre had long carried a veil of uncoolness. I had tried to decorate that veil many times, that’s because of the childhood traumas. Theatre without ambition. Nan’s theatre. But today I really want to applaud, although there is an elegant inscription punks not dead on the jumper.

As soon as the actor starts controlling the object – in this case, his hand – my gaze freezes, as if of a child who is watching a magician. The philosophical theatre viewer retreats, keeps pondering somewhere near, but currently, I am playing in my Nan’s kitchen after a short escape from home, and I am having loads of fun. There is no threat, and you continue watching this candy-making video in Facebook feed. The spectacle still has nothing to do with a black box, it’s just pop culture and advertising strategies. Actually, it may be even closer to Miss Marple on a Saturday afternoon when I am laying hungover on the sofa at my Nan’s. A total chill pill.

The scenescape is the desk of each of your workshops or office. All the objects are recognizable and owned by everyone. You can make the special effects on your own. It is just another reference to a DIY video. The only thing that falls out of the context and becomes a foreign factor that brings chaos and fear is the imposing scissors that become Krueger’s tool. When the character disappears into the unknown, you realize that the spider on the wall you had been watching for an hour is gone and you no longer know which way to direct your fear more. Everything turns into a horror film of the level where arms are falling off, blood is being spilled everywhere and finally everything descends into madness.

The idea of ​​living in the age of extensions begins to emerge, and here it is, the hand turns not into a Samsung Galaxy, a smartwatch, remote controls several different food processors, a car, a TV set, a living room dimmer, a robot vacuum (a robot dog?) until it finally turns into golden slippers, but into a living and soft friend with separate intellect, later into an enemy, until finally I can no longer tell what is what.

The performance was arranged by using such basic cliché nuances of light and focal length that I can’t even imagine where it was accidental and where achieved simply by good use of tools. Nan used to say: In order to really paint like Picasso you first have to be able to paint like Raphael. I have no idea whether that was the case, as I haven’t seen any other works by this author, only their fragments. I sincerely played the whole performance together and ignored the sounds of falling objects because it was so simple, ingenious, fun, and non-obliging to hang this piece on the wall, not sell it and leave it to my favorite grandchild as an heirloom.

The image itself reminds me of the comical horror film Return of the Killer Tomatoes and, by being such poor (simple) reference, it talks to me about the ideal synthesis with the mainstream and the desire to go against it. Oh, how it always fascinates me. Everything. I’m fifteen already, I put it on the table together with Rodriguez’s filmography and am prepared to discuss until dawn the topic of whether this is art or not.

I am deeply convinced that this piece that pretends to be a superficial game with ketchup touches upon the most sensitive topics: about loneliness, about fear of letting new things in, about the (re)cognition of self, about the simplicity of art and the human relation in its recognition. To understand these topics, one does not have to be a Ph.D. in art history. I invite everyone to watch. Play a little! And after watching, take a bite of an unboiled milk sausage, you may do that at Nan’s. Your classmates and mum won’t see.