Although French artist Julien Breton didn’t invent the concept of using a very slow exposure to take a photograph of swirling calligraphic images created by the careful waving around bars of light – at the start of his show at Katara Cultural Village he showed an image of Pablo Picasso doing the same thing half a century ago – he is regarded by many as the man who has perfected this visually intriguing art form.
In particular, he utilizes the Arabic alphabet, making the most of how the curves and shapes of Arabic letters lend themselves to calligraphic interpretation.
As part of Katara’s Ramadan celebrations, Breton and his team have been brought to Doha from France to premiere their light calligraphy show, entitled Turn Out The Light, in the Drama Theater. And quite the enthralling show they put on.
Significantly, this is not a slide show of Breton’s photographs – as interesting as that may have been. What we have is a beautifully realized performance that combines Breton’s deft artistry with a bar of light with a musical soundtrack and stunning work by two dancers (one hip-hop, one an exponent of contemporary dance) who’s acrobatics would make a show in itself.
Throughout the show, each dancer’s fluid, expressive, energetic performance is halted as Breton joins them and draws in the air around them – himself becoming part of the act (sometimes even dancing a little with them) – and the resultant image is broadcast on a large screen behind the temporarily static performers, before the dance continues.
Without doubt, with the Turn Out The Light live show Katara have chosen a winning addition to what has proved to be a very successful Ramadan season. It’s a show that’s well worth seeing.