Cirque Ici : performance art

March 14, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Posted in Play Review | 2 Comments
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I went to see Cirque Ici at the Arts Festival. I was expecting a modern circus show; I got something quite different – but just as entertaining.

Mar 14, 2008 by

Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
New Zealand

This is a one-man play about … a circus performance. What a circus though – there are animals, machines, jugggling, balancing and knife swallowing.

The first Act is the animal tamer, but being a one-man play – there are no animals. Instead there is a series of fur covered geometric shapes that pop open and shut, swallow the animal tamer, and a wire cylinder that splits open and sits up when commaned to ! There is the tubular animal – a 4-meter long metal rod that after bending to the handlers’ will spirals back-and-forth and sits up!

The middle Acts blurred together: counter rotating wheels sharing a common axle, rolling itself with candles across the ciecle; meat cleaver tossing and knife swallowing – at least it seemed that way; a paper falcon; a metal horse with many legs; a human arch; and a tame whirlwind!

The finale was a spiral, made of 2″ by 8″ by 120″ interlocking planks and some rope. The rope was used to stop the planks from popping out, the latest piece was always ‘inserted’ will the performer stood on th end of the previous plank ! By the time he was finished, he was able to hand by his finger tips – and his feet did not touch the ground.

It was fitting that at the other end of Frank Kitts Park stood the Len Lye water sculpture. Surely, if the spirit of the late Len was present he would have approved heartily.

All of the acts looked like they were choreographed by da Vinci for Marceau Marcel- there was a huge amount of science on display in a Renassance kind of way and Johann did not speak at all, though he did make rasping sounds for emphasis.

The horse was an upside down bed of nails, with close 1-metre long nails. It supported Johann’s weight, and it moved across the – round – stage when he rocked backwards and forwards when setted atop of it.

The trained bird that returned to his hand, was a very well folded paper aeroplane!

The human arch was an archway made from a set of encylopedias, with Johann acting as the keystone. The showmanship as he stacked the books was superb – keeping the audience gripped, watching, what might otherwise have been a mundane task.

The whirlwind was just some smoke held captive by four planar blowers.

While I have classified the performance as a one-man play, I might also have classified it as performance art. If my lounge was big enough, and it was for sale, I would have tried to purchase the wooden spiral.


This work – with a commentary -could be presented to school children to educate them about physics.



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  1. this man is full of himself! he really believes he is the alchemist or brought into this world by ancient spirits. i think the media has made a much bigger picture of what he is, or should be. there are many people who have done similar works as Johann boy but because of low budget have not been recognized.
    Try to take one picture from the space or performance, the people working there will rudely demand you to erase the picture you just took in front of them as though their ideas will be stolen or put on the internet. remember: they are extra “special”. joke.
    Unfortunately their philosophy’s don’t match up with their actions!

  2. Thanks, for this; could you name some of the other people doing the same kind of thing ?

    – PH

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