A few words about travellers and artists

28th March 2003 at 00:00
Terrorism on stage and death by textiles lead this week's choice by Judith Palmer

High anxiety

"What a mess we're in! Deluding ourselves that somebody out there is going to kill us, when actually it turns out we kill ourselves, don't we?" says one of the aircraft passengers in the Royal Court's latest play, Terrorism. Presented as part of a short season of new Russian drama, Terrorism is jointly-written by the Presnyakov Brothers, a remarkable young duo from Siberia.

The opening action takes place at an airport, closed by a bomb alert.

Officious army types and incident tape block off the incoming audience from their seats "for their own safety", coralling us in a holding area where we wait until the threat has passed.

The six dramatic scenes take unexpected directions, moving from bedroom to office to locker-room, to explore with dark humour the ways in which we terrorise each other in everyday life. Everything is clever, from the plot links to the scene changes, but it's also a deeply intelligent piece that captures the anxious uncertainty of the times we live in. At the Royal Court, London, until March 29. Tickets: 020 7565 5000; www.royalcourttheatre.com for transfer details.

Textiles in transition

When fashion designer Helen Storey asked biologist John McLachlan what he thought forgetting felt like, he imagined a natural sponge gradually drying out. So sponge is among the materials Storey has used in her seven Death Dresses - strange textile pieces that tell a story about the physiology of human emotions. The expiration of a cell, the transition from childhood, the end of fertility - each dress captures a moment on the slide towards death.

These extraordinary constructions, made from chiffon and magnets, saddlery and mirrors, are among works on show in her exhibition Mental at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. Other pieces that emerged from her investigations with scientists include "Amygdala", a two-metre-high book of emotions, and "First, Last, Everything", a sensuous fur-covered sculpture that lights up when you touch her. The display is in a pheromone-scented room. Storey will be monitoring how the shift in pheromone levels affects visitors' willingness to fondle the sculpture. Wolverhampton Art Gallery, April 5-June 7. Info: 01902 552055; www.wolverhamptonart.org.uk. Schools wanting to collaborate in Helen Storey projects see: www.helenstoreyfoundation.org.

Words, words, words

From David Hockney and Mona Hatoum to Douglas Gordon and Gilbert amp; George, a growing number of British artists have taken to incorporating text within their work. Words, a national touring exhibition organised by the Hayward Gallery, selects works from the vast Arts Council Collection which use language as a visual device or metaphorical conceit.

Sometimes the work is formed by the shape of words alone, much like the calligraphic patterns of Islamic art; sometimes the meaning of an image is subtly altered by an unexpected caption or title. See Tracey Emin's embroidered blankets, Iain Hamilton Finlay's neon poems and Simon Patterson's subverted Tube map. At Gallery Oldham until April 26. Info: 0161 911 4653; www.galleryoldham.org.uk. Next tour date: Leicester City Gallery, from May 10.

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