Review: Peer by Lee Campbell (online, Zoom)

A twenty-minute live piece from poet and performer Lee Campbell, this Zoom piece is avant garde, naturalistic, futuristic, and a lot in between.

Peer is a one person show perfotmed from Campbell’s spare room on the evening of the hottest day of the year in London.

It is presented as part of Brazil’s Festival ECRÃ, which looks at experimental cinema, audiovisual presentation, and the production of the moving image.

With memories of the Kent coast, Campbell weaves images and words to give a sense of time and place. It builds from a five-minute piece which can accessed on YouTube, but this is the world premiere of Peer in its full form.

Campbell’s images and videos are from his archive as an artist of a quarter century. He moved into short films during the pandemic, and with a long background in performance art, eventually evolving into poetry, his show becomes something quite fresh and different.

The English have an odd relationship with the seaside, and Campbell esplores it here. His torso is the conduit for images as he performs the words. A rhythmic beat underpins the poetry, a vocal movement which holds the brief flashes of imagery within waves of light.

This is a bird’s eye view of life beside the sea, a peephole or telescope into half-remembered vignettes, long-buried memories. You can almost taste the salt spray, feel the cold water under your feet and the crunch of sand or pebble.

Live Zoom performances are always unpredictable, and there were a couple of sound issues which were distracting (especially to a headphone wearer).

A piece which plays with the possibility of what meeting platforms can do, Peer winds drawings, film and words together in a way which connects beyond language boundaries, sometimes repeating, sometimes distorting.

Peer is an intriguing piece of performance art: neither theatre nor film, it tries to find something a little different to play with. It also has an LGBTQ thread through it, but I wasn’t completely clear of the connection to shells and sand.

Access the short version here.