How do you convey a message? Bitch on Heat, I can say answers this question excellently. It’s presentation and aesthetic are incredibly well crafted to drive a poignant point home. This isn’t entirely easy to do. A lot of abstract art and performances have grandiose ideas but fail to convey their intended message.
Somewhere along the line they lose the connection with their audience. Bitch on Heat, by performance artist Leah Shelton, doesn’t suffer this in the slightest.
Bitch on Heat is a dark comedy, anti-burlesque, and surrealist journey into the twisted mists of sexual politics and social depreciation of women. In a series of striking and absurdist moments it unravels vintage sexism and how it continues to permeate even today.
Bitch on Heat is conveying a striking and potent message about sexism and anarchic feminism. It’s not a subject where you can pull your punches and Shelton and director Ursala Martinez in no way do. Through a series of absurd, and hyper-unreal segments they deliver an uncomfortable and fluctuating tone.
Uncomfortable is how it should feel, there is no way you confront the demons of the world without stepping out of your comfort zone and feeling the pressure. This is what Bitch on Heat transmits but it all the lights, smoke and body horror Leah still reels you in wanting more.
To get the point across you need to be hit in the face with it but the strike should hurt not kill. Feel confronted but not beaten down. If this is your first foray into encountering sexual politics, then this may be a great stepping stone. For those of you who have waded deep into the good fight you can admire how well this production shows everyone how dark yet engaging this conflict can be.
Bitch on Heat is performing every Friday and Saturday in the Garden until March 16th as well as Sunday 10th of March. Take a step into this important performance to see. The waters fine.
Words by Jonathon Tonkin
Image by Fenlan Chuang
WHERE: Rundle Park, East Tce, Adelaide