A Giant Dog Bed / Reclining Duet is a 30 minute online screened film created and performed by Lucy Suggate, a dance artist and choreographer. The piece features one other crucial performer — Molly, the retired greyhound. The pair recline on a mattress, in a reserved exploration of the power and action of rest.
Greyhounds are key to this conversation as while they are hugely athletic and employed for their speed, they also rest for a disproportionately long time per day. The average greyhound sleeps for 18 hours a day. When being exploited for racing, greyhounds may be worked ruthlessly and kept in inhumane cages. Perhaps the piece is a comment on how we must redefine ourselves outside the realm of work. After more than a year in a pandemic requiring us to be largely house-bound, we have all had to re-examine our lives and how we define ourselves outside the usual measures of productivity and success.
Suggate has previously commented on her work that ‘when I dance it’s not only an articulation of thought, it also creates thought, like bubbles that get shaken to the surface’. This is certainly true in the case of A Giant Dog Bed, especially when we consider the uncontrolled variables of the piece. Despite her sleepy temperament, Molly can move and act in a way that Suggate is unable to control, first shown at the start of the piece when Molly sniffs and licks her, causing Suggate to laugh. This results in new sentiments being created through the enactment of the piece.
Suggate is dressed in a grey, velvety bodysuit to match Molly’s grey, silky fur. The suit has a white pattern on the chest, similar to the markings found on a dog. I find this makes the clothing choice slightly comical as it is a rather literal costume, almost asking us to view her as canine. The clothing is more effective as a way of visually extending the lines of the dog and blending the boundary between them through the use of similar material and colours. In her movement, Suggate plays with the visual lines they create, assuming a child’s pose behind Molly’s haunches and lying behind the dog, allowing her own silhouette to amplify and extend that of Molly’s.
The piece is filmed from three different angles, allowing us to explore the set-up both in detail and in a wide shot. Two panels are integrated within this wide shot, displaying footage from hand-held cameras. The triptych format is effective in creating more action within the very still scene and allows us to consider how the filming of performed art can not only document it but also generate new meaning within it.
This is a reflective and inventive piece exploring our relationships with the animals who co-habit our most intimate spaces.
A Giant Dog Bed / Reclining Duet is playing online with Take Me Somewhere Festival until Friday 28th May 2021. For more information and tickets, see Take Me Somewhere Festival’s website.