Review: Arcadia – A Reflection

Art & Culture

Born and bred in Bristol. Built from man’s waste; fuelled by man’s indulgences. Arcadia: dreaming a dream long forgotten. Brought to life again by a vision of the future. 

The GIANT MECHANICAL SPIDER, made up of 50 tonnes of recycled military hardware and spewing bio-diesel powered fire, had its latest incarnation in Bristol’s Queen Square over the weekend. The first ever inner-city show in the UK was the hottest ticket in town. 

The new and aptly named show, Metamorphosis, was a dichotomy of nightmarish and mutating monsters and the most delicate, fragile acrobatics. Jellyfish, aliens, pyrotechnics, performers and aerialists spawned out of the spider as revellers danced in drunken delight. The spider reared over the crowd to the most extraordinary light show this city has surely ever seen. 

I have witnessed and worshiped the awe-inspiring arachnoid at Glastonbury Festival but this was different. This felt more intimate and, strangely enough, more real. Looking up you could see a spider crawling above your head. You could almost reach out and touch the Lords of Lightning. I was overcome by a desire, almost a need, to be one of the dancers plucked out of the crowd and cocooned in some sort of a capsule.

Bristol boasts a unique familiarity and togetherness that is either absent or lost in bigger cities. Arcadia and its giant spider tapped into the heart of Bristol and Roni Size provided the heartbeat. Performing with his Reprazent crew Roni Size was the unparalleled highlight. Brown Paper Bag with live double bass and some vintage material from his Full Cycle Days, dedicated to all the junglists, set the pulses racing. Ghetto Celebrity rocked the place and sent a shiver down the spine. 

It’s scary to think what the warped minds of the creators of Arcadia will think up next. You could be forgiven if Kafka-esque thoughts crept into your mind when you think of Metamorphosis but there is so much more to this show than its apocalyptic undertones. Deep in the body of the beast, the soul of the spider speaks of a utopian vision: virtuous and uncorrupted by mankind and in harmony with nature. Nothing unattainable but something long forgotten perhaps brought to life, even if only momentarily, by a vision of the future: Arcadia.