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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 07:08 GMT 08:08 UK
Drunken art show in the balance
Artist Anti-Cool
Anti-Cool's act aims to illustrate confusion over mass media
A performance artist's show which saw her spend three hours balancing on a beam while becoming drunk on lager has been defended by theatre officials.

The Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff staged the work in its public bar by Tokyo-based Tomoko Takahashi, who is also known as Anti-Cool.

Local councillor Ramesh Patel said it should have been in a private room.

But Chapter said she was in control throughout in a safe setting where people knew they would see unique art.

She was drunk by the end of the performance but that made it more mesmerising for the audience to watch
James Tyson, Chapter
The Tokyo-based artist used 48 bottles of lager during her act on Saturday night, although she did not drink all of them.

Theatre programmer James Tyson said the point of the show, called Allurements of Mass Media, was to illustrate "the confusion we can feel in response to the amount of mass media that is pumped to us incessantly".

He said the artist worked with different products particular to the area she was in and she had seen several beer festivals in Cardiff.

Anti-Cool in performance
The artist remained in control throughout, says Chapter
"Initially some people found the image of Anti-Cool beginning to drink bottles of beer elevated on a balancing beam unsettling," he said.

"There were 48 bottles, but she did not drink all of those. Some of those she suspended from her neck by a rope inviting the audience to cut them away and take them for themselves.

"As the evening progressed, the public became very aware of her, many in empathy, many concerned for her safety."

Mr Tyson said her behaviour showed "extraordinary self-control," adding: "She was drunk by the end of the performance but that made it more mesmerising for the audience to watch."

If she was drunk then that concerns me and it sends out the wrong message.
Councillor Ramesh Patel
Mr Tyson added: "It was a very safe environment to present a piece of work. People will go into Chapter knowing that it's a place where art takes place - where you can look at films or performance that you wouldn't see otherwise."

The show was part of a month-long Experimentica 2005 season by the centre, which received about 750,000 in grant money to fund its programme of events between 2004 and 2005.

Mr Patel, a Labour councillor for the Canton ward, said: "I don't agree with any binge drinking, regardless of what it is.

"I think it is inappropriate that a performance of this nature is staged in the public bar area - it should have been behind closed doors."

He added: "If she was drunk then that concerns me and it sends out the wrong message. It is an arts centre but it also has a cinema and it is all open, so if young people were to walk through the main door they would've seen that."

A spokeswoman for Alcohol Concern said: "We don't comment on individual cases such as this but we are always concerned when people drink to excess and put their health and safety at risk."


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