Review: Death is Certain

This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.

First performed in 2002, Death is Certain, a piece of live art by Eva Meyer-Keller, has been consistently doing the rounds of festivals, museums, and theatres internationally ever since. It arrives in Dublin from Germany as part of the Dublin Dance Festival.

Upon arrival the audience is ushered into the Cube space at Project Arts Centre, where the room is laid out like a cookery demonstration or an impromptu science lesson. There are two work surfaces, both covered with white tablecloths. One surface is empty; the other is laid out with various items such as a bottle of vinegar, matches, knives, a hairdryer. There are, of course, cherries. Neatly laid out in rows and perfectly spaced. The audience is free to move around the space, which is brightly lit, adding to the clinical feeling.

Meyer-Keller commences the performance without much ado. Dressed completely in black she simply welcomes the audience before donning a plain white apron. Firstly she refers to her instructions on the table, which she continues to consult during the performance, lending to the assumption that she is merely following orders. Meyer-Keller remains emotionless throughout but is in no way cold; she is purely perfunctory in this piece of art. She next begins to inflict various means of death upon the cherries. One by one they meet their fate- sometimes unusual, sometimes cruel, sometimes straightforward. The first cherry is hanged. This is followed by a litany of assaults upon the juicy fruits. Meyer-Keller performs her tasks matter-of-factly, momentarily stopping to wipe the red cherry juice on her pristine apron.

Death is Certain is 40 minutes of immersive performance art in which the audience is witness to the horrors inflicted upon something that cannot fight back, in this instance cherries. Whilst there is comedy in the absurdity of it all and in the acts being carried out, there is also an underlying gruesomeness. As abysmal as that sounds Death is Certain is by no means depressing. In fact, it is quite the opposite. There is regular audible laughter from the audience, which is heightened by Meyer-Keller’s ability to remain detached.

As a whole, Death is Certain does what art is meant to do; it generates thought and connects to human emotion. Accidents, murder, genocide, the death penalty, the beauty industry. These and more can be seen in this wonderful little piece, with each cherry’s death being open to interpretation. It creates, on some level, a pondering about one’s own life but also about life and death in general, whilst also providing a thoroughly enjoyable and humorous experience. All of this from a woman in a white apron with some cherries. This live art performance is suitable for any theatre goer or art lover and is not specifically dance orientated.

Death is Certain by Eva Meyer-Keller.

Runs until May 22nd 2015 at Project Arts Centre, Dublin. 

Photo by Lucas Fester.

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