AT THE SPOT WHERE I FIND MYSELF by Genevieve Murphy in Amsterdam

This intimate performance explores the space between what we understand and what we perceive when faced with an invitation to invade on a private moment, of returning home, by Genevieve Murphy.  

From the very start, Murphy announces, “I want to share a state with you…. Whenever I am in, I don’t want to be in and I don’t want to be out… This state of indecision… Faced with my emotional state… my demons. I don’t fully arrive… but it’s exhausting.” Murphy’s manifestations of identity are personified as a shifting state of being set in a ‘state’ which was brought to life.  One by one, different parts of the room “soak” in her state, as she described it. This is interjected with off-beat jazz riffs, flowing rhyming verses that unsettle and yet there are moments of beauty, in her voice. At other times you find yourself experiencing a visceral, Tingeley-esque collision of sound and matter and force. The experienced and confident band ensemble present a changing landscape, painted with flutters of electro dance beats.  

The room becomes her private space and we, the audience, become the willing receptors for the performance. Set in the Muziekgebouw, Grote Zaal, components of the stage come alive as she embodies, in turn, the elements surrounding her – her sofa, a light shade? A bath? Altogether it adds to this sense of being in a strange space between reality and art, as such it fluctuates between the explained and unknowable.

The scripted narrative adds a spoken word performance and, occasionally, the soundscape reminds me of a movie soundtrack. Witnessing Murphy’s performance fills you at once with conflict and solace, humour and disbelief.  This is storytelling of the everyday and the mundane offered as a confronting experience, one where Murphy is indulging in bizarre memories and musings.  In the finale, complete with strobe effect lighting building to a crescendo (reminding me of a performance I saw of the band Jambinai), the randomness of the bagpipes and nudity helps to offset the tone and nature of the piece. 

It is disarming. There was an otherworldly effect. We left feeling disconcerted; we left wondering if Murphy wanted to induce a state in her audience of wanting to go home and to explore our own state, our own landscapes, and our own relationships to the physical world around us for ourselves.  

If so, Murphy’s meta composition – described as introverted and uncomfortable, which I found to be erratic and heavily indulgent and engaging – opens up a discussion about whether every state is worthy of art.   Rose Fawbert Mills 1st June 2024

Photo by Nichon Glerum