Blast is quite possibly the best piece of performance art in any medium to have taken place in Birmingham in recent years. Certainly it was a great spectacle with heaps of pyrotechnics and bangs but it was also an incredibly considered and, in places, quietly meditative piece, simultaneously draining and inspiring.
It was a performance of a standard that any city could have been proud of but it could only have taken place in Birmingham. The whole thing oozed with an understanding and love of the city from its industrial past to its unknown future. This was Birmingham art, ticking all the boxes and towering above all else. Its almost unfair to the rest of Artsfest that this is taking place at the same time – they cannot hope to compete on so many levels.
The audience, while substantial, could have been larger. I hope the word of mouth network will do the job over the next 18 hours but I do feel slightly perturbed that this event wasn’t pushed harder to the public. If it were a Tate production there would have been national press and features on Radio 4. (I’m happy to stand corrected if there was). This is the sort of public art event that Birmingham deserves, being inclusive and fun but not afraid to aesthetically and intellectually challenge. It’s a shining example of what city-specific art can be and I cannot thank and congratulate all those involved, from the performers to the organisers who pushed this project forward, enough.
Thankfully it’s on again tonight and, as you can gather, I highly recommend you go. You won’t regret it.
The above photos are mine and are part of the Birmingham Artsfest 2007 Flickr group, members of which will be covering the whole weekend. If you just want photos of Blast they’re here with many more to come.