peoples in pieces


Our guide to what's on around the world, compiled by Jessica Gallucci and Ariel Ramchandani


One never knows what to expect of the Sprint Festival, at the small Camden People's Theatre in North London. In its 11th year and spanning the month of June, it showcases innovative new work from small theatre companies, all in an effort to push the boundaries of conventional theatre. The 17 productions run the gamut, from "The Forgotten", a play about the nightmarish degradation of the Auschwitz death camp, to "Finding My Inner Cowboy", Tom Marshman's solo exploration of what it means to be a man. Rudimentary science plays a part in two exciting new works--"15 Storms In A Teacup" by People in Pieces uses "low-tech chemical reactions" to propel 15 miniature experiments, and "Nightfall" by the Special Guests uses classroom physics to examine the concept of twilight and all that it illuminates within us. -A.R.

SPRINT FESTIVAL 2008, through June 29th, Camden People's Theatre, London



Olafur Eliasson and Hans Ulrich Obrist's week-long 'Experiment Marathon' sounded like a brilliant idea: it was meant to unite artists and scientists for a public cross-pollination of disciplines, to foster 'an environment of invention', according to its press release. But critics at artnet and said it fell flat--thanks partly to Dr Ruth's tetchy refusal to co-operate (and the revenge taken by her co-collaborator, Marina Abramovic); and partly to an ill-conceived interpretive dance performed by scientists dressed up as fuel-cell molecules. But there are still plenty of worthy attractions at the Reykjavik Arts Festival, which is on for another two weeks. The Akureyri Art Museum's 'Facing China' exhibition does justice to the craze for contemporary Asian works, and the Reykjavik Art Museum presents 'Dreams of the Sublime and Nowhere', a collection of nature-themed photographs and videos by native artists. -J.G.

REYKJAVIK ARTS FESTIVAL, through June 5th, Reykjavik



At a time when world leaders are questioning whether to communicate with Iran at all, this show of photographs by young Iranian artists lends a personal angle to the conflict. "After the Revolution: Contemporary Photography from Tehran and California", organised by the San Francisco Arts Commission, features around 100 works by artists who were all born during or after the 1978 revolution. Images from Iran-based photographers are displayed alongside those by Iranian-Americans raised in California, and the effect is an often interesting dialogue. The works include the fractured and disorienting photographs of Teheran-based Mehraneh Atashi, and the nostalgic meditations of Amir Fallah. -A.R.

AFTER THE REVOLUTION, through June 27th, City Hall, San Francisco



Some may bristle at the volume of political rhetoric on the alkantara festival's website, but frustration with the world is largely what motivates participating artists. Thankfully the performances in this experimental dance festival are often more subtle. On Friday, the Akram Khan Company and the National Ballet of China present 'Bahok', a dance about interactions in an airport lounge, choreographed to music by Nitin Sawhney, a British DJ and composer. And next week a Portuguese group called Move Out Loud will present the results of an online experiment in democratic choreography, which they bill as 'the biggest choreography project ever': anyone can contribute steps or ideas, via video uploads to its website. The plan was for a collaborative patchwork of dance, filled with 'desires or despairs from all over the world'. Alas, there are only a handful of submissions so far. -J.G.

ALKANTARA FESTIVAL, through June 8th, Lisbon



In Rivka Galchen's debut novel, "Atmospheric Disturbances", strange things happen to Dr Leo Liebenstein, her middle-aged psychiatrist narrator. Besides the distractions of a mysterious dog and a patient who is convinced he has the power to change weather patterns, there is the matter of his beloved wife, Rema. She has disappeared, only to be replaced by a persistent, tearful simulacrum. In his quest to find her--a trip that sweeps from Manhattan's Upper West Side to the mountains of Argentina--Galchen explores the often difficult mutations of love and the lengths we go to explain them. Although the plot begins to stall about two-thirds of the way through, Galchen's wise voice and eccentric characters are a delight. Leo, desperate and befuddled, is charmingly exhausting in his inability to see what is right in front of him. -A.R.

ATMOSPHERIC DISTURBANCES, May 27th, Farrar Straus and Giroux