Dumy Moyi, by Francois Chaignaud

Carriageworks, Eveleigh, Sydney | Until 3 October

Francois Chaignaud is a French artist who brings to Carriageworks his current solo work, Dumy Moyi (My Thoughts, My Thoughts). One would think it a daunting space for a solo performance, but the program notes reveal Chaignaud has stipulated that his work may only take place in a church, chapel or gallery space.

The performance commences with a lone figure — dressed in a complex costume, consisting of fur and feathers, and a very restrictive hoop — entering the space. His costume is one of three that will appear in the show, and is a work of art in itself. Within its interior we see the semi-naked body of Chaignaud who begins a journey along a runway, allowing the audience, restricted to a mere forty in number, to explore the created costume from multiple, close-up angles. This moving sculpture initially suggests a restrictive prison to movement, evoking the notion of confinement, and the distant sound of French military drums further promotes this idea.

The sound is quietly threatening and ominous and provides a musical backdrop to Chaignaud’s haunting delivery of a number of ethnic songs. These beautiful songs provide an accelerated journey from medieval times to the 1940s, and create a cosmopolitan oral canvas traversing places such as Spain, the Ukraine and the Philippines. Jean-Michel Marin’s subtle sound mix and Antoine Bernollin’s authentic musical adaptations do much to facilitate this journey.

 Chaignaud’ s vocal range is extensive and as he finally strips away layers of costume his movement also becomes liberated . The costuming plays an essential role in this performance and although this is billed as a one-man-show it is essentially an interdisciplinary, collaborative effort, chiefly with French fashion designer Romain Brau, whose creations provide the scenery and landscape that permits us to travel through time and space.

However, it is an extremely brief artistic journey and although this work certainly takes risks and is thought provoking it is a fast-forward compilation of a much greater theme.