Review of Happy House

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Performed on Instagram Live

Directed and filmed by Sophie Fleming 

It’s like you’ve been invited to a house party where you don’t really know anyone. You’re searching through the house for a familiar face, but as you go looking, you see glimpses of other people’s lives. You’re intrigued by someone else’s personal space- the bunting, mismatched carpets and flashes of posters on the walls- but you can never get a close look because dramas are unfolding all over the house, and even though you know you should give them privacy, you can’t look away...

 

The limited view of Instagram live gave us an almost guilty peak into an intimate situation- something we collectively crave now that we’re all confined to our own space. It felt almost voyeuristic; as with a house party, the performance allowed us into the home as a venue, but like a house party it retained the intimacy of inviting us into the place where the performers eat, sleep and shit. As an audience member through Instagram you suddenly feel kind of sleazy- should I be allowed through the door? I’m a stranger! 

 

Underpinning the physicality of the performance was the sense of being crowded. Again, this is reminiscent of being crammed into a tiny flat at a house party, but takes on a new meaning since we all went through lockdown. Even an empty house can feel crowded when it has become your entire world. You could feel the tension of entrapment, three big personalities confined by four walls. Domestic routines interwoven as the performers live on top of each other in a shared flat, as well as personal struggles with boredom and confinement played out alone under the same roof. 

 

This intimacy was felt right down to the camera work, which followed the performers from room to room and occasionally swayed along with the music. Sometimes the camera focused on the dancers’ shadows and other times in the mirror, making the audience’s viewpoint feel extra organic. The overall effect is a feeling that you have been invited in. And although you still feel that you’re watching something very intimate, maybe everyone is pretty pleased you came to the party after all.

This was the first artwork that made me feel excited online since the beginning of the Pandemic.