The crazy world of artists, bohemians and rock and roll stars has always been fuelled by substances both legal and illegal. Just what is the relationship between art and drugs? It’s a question that’s been asked before, but one which hit Bryony Kimmings squarely in the face as she began to address her own relationship with alcohol. Did she need it to make her work? Did she become a better artist after a few drinks?
7 Day Drunk is her attempt to answer this question. Kimmings spent a week in various different states of intoxication; this is the result of her research – and it’s a crazy and hugely entertaining hour. But it’s also one tinged with a seriousness brought to it by the intensely clinical nature of the process. Under the supervision of a medical and psychological team, Kimmings steadily drank more each day as her artistic output over each 24 hour period was tested in front of an audience.
For all it’s flamboyance there’s a level of grit to 7 Day Drunk. Snippets of film show us Kimmings in various different stages throughout the week and whilst the dramatic highs and cold lonely lows are clear for all to see, the main feeling one gets is of her endurance. Alongside funny stories and wacky dances, there is a fittingly sober side to 7 Day Drunk, one in which the consequences of her drinking, other than artistic success, are explored. You get the feeling she’s saying ‘This wasn’t meant to be fun’ even though the finished production is often great fun to watch.
From the off you feel like you know Kimmings. Although she dresses in outrageous outfits, plays with bubbles and unicorn heads and creates magical songs whilst drunk, she seems like a pal. It this sense of connection between her and her audience which makes 7 Day Drunk an experiment that you want to be part of and Kimmings’ is more than happy to oblige. You may get drunk or even snog someone if you’re brave enough to sit in the front few rows.
Artists have long had a relationship with mind altering substances and it’s easy to conclude that anything that makes you less inhibited should help the creative process, free your mind. But the scientific aspect to 7 Day Drunk gives Kimmings’ exploration a level of cold objectivity, removing the romance, and giving things a new twist. There’s plenty of poetry and theatricality to the piece but its backbone is one of facts and figures. This gives Kimmings’ contribution to the debate an added weight. The result is a gently probing piece of scientific performance art that contributes a new perspective to what is oft-covered ground. And I mentioned there was a unicorn head, right?