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Virgin Territory Installation: Delving into a hypersexualised culture

By Patrick Isitt

The Badger, 12 May 2017

During 10th-21st May, Brighton’s ONCA gallery will host a visually striking film installation exploring the impact on young women of our modern, digitally captured society.

Charlotte Vincent, Artistic Director of Vincent Dance Theatre, the company behind ‘Virgin Territory’, describes the installation as a chance to step back and view the “hypersexualisation of our culture”. She hopes that it will provoke young women to speak out against sexual harassment whilst equally prompting the young men to voice their reaction to the work.

“We’re trying to say that there’s a spectrum of difficulty around how you promote your self-image, the way you present yourself online and offline, what attention that attracts and who.” Charlotte intends for the installation to leave viewers canvassing the concept of equality between genders; she encourages young men to come to the ONCA gallery – located at the bottom of London Road – to voice their opinions on our hypersexualised culture, because she questions whether they feel they are currently able to.

The installation, which forms part of a body of work that includes a live theatre production that premiered in London last year, features four children (aged 12-14) collaborating with four adults. The director admits that this approach to performance is fairly uncommon in the UK. By using dance theatre to explore such a crucial topic amongst the younger generation, Charlotte hopes that Virgin Territory can “break the mould of who [dance theatre] reaches.”

The most striking element of the production is perhaps the reality of it all; these aren’t stories inspired by Charlotte’s imagination, they are genuine anecdotes gathered from teenagers and young adults in Brighton. Charlotte says Virgin Territory, and ‘Shut Down’, which is the next piece in this body of work, are “about gathering young people’s stories, making them into a piece of work and putting them back out into the world onstage, on film and online, and seeing what the reaction is.”

Describing the film as “a provocation” featuring “hard-hitting material”, Charlotte uses choreography to display difficult situations as metaphors and images. She admits that the theme of sexual harassment, particularly in an online world, is a crucial but sensitive issue to tackle. Speaking days after running a workshop around consent at the University of Sussex, the production’s theme, that touches inevitably on sexual abuse, evidently focuses on an area that, as an artist with a longstanding commitment to gender equality, Charlotte has a passion for.

The installation runs between May 10th-21st (with the exclusion of 15th/16th) at Brighton’s ONCA gallery, 14 St. George’s Place, Brighton, BN1 4GB.

You can also view the trailer here: