Louise Curham and I have been doing a residency at the Performance Space in Sydney, (March 5-25, 2007) to work on trying out some re-enactments of Expanded Cinema events from the early 1970s. Weâ€™ve been posting up our reports over here: http://teachingandlearningcinema.org
[nb: the following is the first blog entry for the project Bilateral Petersham. For the rest, head on over to http://thesham.info]
The clock ticked round to midnight and I sat in the kitchen watching it. When all the hands pointed to twelve, I took two photos. Without the flash, the clock looked yellow and blurry. Flash-frozen, on the other hand, it looked like it had been caught in the act. Embarrassed at having been sprung doing something vaguely shameful but essentially harmless.
That’s how I brought in the third of April. The beginning of â€œBilateral Petersham,â€ aka â€œmy Petersham project,â€ aka â€œThe Petersham Lockdown.â€ There was no tangible difference between one moment, where I was not â€œon the job,â€ and the next, when the â€œprojectâ€ had officially begun. No fanfare, no ribbon cutting, no glass of champagne. I went to bed and read a bit and then fell asleep.
cunderdin is 45 km from kellerberrin. As part of my residency at kellerberrin i am running some school workshops. Since i often do these kind of workshops (as a job) i thought it would be interesting to approach them as an experiment “in themselves” ie – something without a known outcome. That way the workshop process becomes as much a part of my ongoing project as any other aspect of the residency.
Felena found what could be the ideal class for such an experiment – the multimedia and information-communication technology (MM ICT) class at cunderdin high. The students are about 13-14 years old, there are about ten of them. Their teachers, Iain and Trevor, have a focus on film/video and computers, respectively. I think its an interesting class to be working with (as opposed to an “art” class) because there is already, i reckon, an openness to the idea of utilising whatever materials and processes happen to be in front of you, and are appropriate, for a given project.
Of course, the kind of art that i do was kinda unfamiliar to them. I ran them through a very rough powerpoint presentation of some of my projects, trying to draw the focus onto a careful consideration of the banal and everyday as an approach to art making. The “Cornflakes” performance and the orange juice installation were kind of confusing to them, I think. But I pressed on. The lecture theatre piece with cushions may have made an impact, I'm not sure. It's hard to tell when you are not only introducing them to your work, but also the the WHOLE IDEA of this kind of work. One bright spark kept asking “what's the point?” (something that Deakin students also asked a few weeks ago when i talked to them) and indeed that is perhaps the crucial question.
Trevor pointed out afterwards that it was potentially empowering for them to realise that they can make something out of what is in front of them – it is an honouring of the minor things that make up your life. I guess that's some kind of point. But anyway, a lack of point didnt seem to deter them from sitting with me, fairly undistracted, for an hour, which is an achievement with any kids of that age, i reckon, especially when i am not trying to seduce them with razzamatazz.
Before they ran off to little lunch I tried to squeeze out of them some of their interests, with a view to “doing something” together for the 4 weeks when they get back from their fortnight of holidays.
“What would you like to do with that period of time?”
Responses included :
-make something…a car? Drive it off a cliff – a destruction piece. (are there any cliffs around here?)
-make our own drugs (probably a bit out of our league in the time frame)
-create our own music, create our own games.
-design a hockey stick (i was impressed with this one, this project would involve carpentry, graphic design, engineering drawings, testing etc)
-make a cartoon character.
-a car racing or horse racing game
-something involving guitars.
It was good to gauge what they were into, and the idea of games and music popped up a bit, so maybe we can head off in that direction. I am aware that I need to structure, quite cleverly, the “freedom” which i intend to give them. It is probably most unproductive to let them loose and do “whatever they want” because (like improvised performance) they will most likely fall back on that which is familiar, behaviour wise, and i want to do the opposite. Probably I will begin each week with exposure to some particular items of art or media (either by me or by various luminaries i rustle up) and then get them to participate in a collaboration/play activity a la allan kaprow, something self-contained, so there is a “result” within the day. If these are adequately documented, it would be enough of an achievement to present the findings of four activities as a “workshop outcome”.
Arrived in Kellerberrin late last week to begin a 2 month (April/May) residency with IASKA (International Art Space Kellerberrin Australia)… luckily I caught the launch of Kirsten Bradley (of Cicada)'s wonderful Saltmilk environment. Not sure what will pan out for me here in Keller, but a few things are shaping up in my mind:
-working with the quirky local newsletter "The Pipeline" (a photocopied A4 "zine" in which the contributors do their own design, it makes for a fabulous fluxus-like publication)…
-workshops with media students (13-14 year olds) in neighboring town Cunderdin to make some sort of collaborative project over the next month and a bit…
-new local blogging action including making my own rather than relying on blog-city…
-learning how to play chess (perhaps i will advertise in "The Pipeline" for a chess pardner…
-a big Expanded Cinema show at the end of the residency, including a mini-Aussie tour for the stunning Line Describing a Cone by Anthony McCall – (pictures here) – Perth Sydney and possibly Brisbane and Canberra…
-visits from all my wonderful Perth friends and family
-anything else you might care to suggest…
(see http://www.pica.org.au/art03/Residencies03.html for Sussi’s clog residency project at perth institute of contemporary arts)
the following is a chunk from an email i sent to Sussi Porsborg:
…regarding praxis and alienation, its certainly easy to feel alienated when at (the wrong) uni…while i did have a good experience at uwa, and remain friends with many of the lecturers there, it wasnt until some time after leaving that i found my real reference points and artistic predecessors…seems like the folks at uwa either didnt think to mention fluxus to me, or they just plain didnt know of it. there are some pieces i did while at uwa which, unknowingly, almost entirely replicate performances i since discovered were carried out in 1965…and so on…
i saw a review of barb bolt’s show in the eyeline mag… for me, the best thing about it was that they included a colour reproduction, SO important, it would have been useless in BW! looked like the writer’s text was edited down drastically or something…it seemed a little disjointed in its explanation of the “technosublime”…perhaps she felt intimidated by the thoroughness of barb’s own writing about her work (barb DID do a whole thesis on it), and felt she had to try to re-present that…