my friend simon is going to london, and he asked me to make him a list of things to see while he's there (although i'm sure there'll be hardly any time to squeeze most of them in).
i thought i'd share it here, as i have other lists. and that way other friends in london can go check things out - or they can also recommend things to do whilst he's there :)
have a great time simon! i'll be re-living it vicariously through you, you know...
anish kapoor at the royal academy.
for the love of god, you should see this. it will be amazing. and while you're in the area, a bit of white cube mason's yard never hurt anyone. well, not much.
as much as i love my crew at brother/seven seeds, sometimes i do miss my double espresso for £1 at monmouth. the one at borough is ok, but covent garden (on monmouth st) is best. the girls there are so friendly.
oh, and for decent food and a place to hang in central london after 7pm, princi on wardour was the new surprise last time. packed, all the time, but so fun. and open, you know, late.
michael jackson memorabilia at the O2 bubble.
This Is It is surprisingly amazing and although i still wouldn't consider myself a 'fan', i came away from the film with a sense of sadness and awe about a man with such talent and such trouble. simon, i don't even need to tell you why you need to go, do i?
calling out of context at the ICA.
i wish i was going, but i'm hoping that it's the first of many festivals, to which i can go. from the ica site:
Calling Out Of Context is a new festival of experimental music and sound. For nine days our main gallery becomes a performance space; the upper gallery a working recording studio; and the theatre hosts gigs, workshops and discussions. The festival features more than 40 performers and groups, revealing the vitality and relevance of the sonic avant-garde"
simon, this will be your penance for not going to electrofringe. ;)
you should meet my friend charlie gower. he's crazy into music. italo disco is his #1 penchant, but he has the most eclectic taste of anyone i know. he used to do mo' wax nights in shoreditch and you guys would totally have a rad time gettin' all music geeky on each other.
st andrews studios in hackney - especially transition gallery. cathy and alex at transition always put on great shows that you should check out.
chloe early at stolen space. her work is pretty spectacular. the gallery around the corner from the new rough trade in shoreditch/truman brewery. which is not as good as the old rough trade, but you'll have to go there. you know how it is.
oh, and the tate modern. of course.
I've taken to reading The Economist a bit lately. I don't know exactly why. But i do get a fascinating picture of what's going on in the world that feels like it's largely unbiased, if not surprisingly humanitarian in its focus. Novel idea.
Anyway, there was a fascinating article in it about the definition of a gender. Prompted by the ghastly handling of the South African runner, Caster Semenya the article talks about the lack of definition of a gender in most countries documents of policy, and that the only country to mention it in any kind of report was Australia:
"A rare exception is in Australia, where a Human Rights Commission report in March 2009 recommended that adults should be abllowed to register their sex as "unspecified" on documents such as passports."
How's about that?! seems that Australian advisors and policy makers are up there with the Germans and Austrians (who have decreed that surgery is not a prerequist for sex-change). They have recognised that the diversity and openness of gender identification is to be preserved, that it is ultimately bound up in choice - orientation, perhaps - and not necessarily science.
It reminded me of Lesly Turnbull's Tomboys series (and the awful policy in Malaysia which outlaws tomboy behaviour) and i almost felt a little bit of pride for our struggling little society here - given our mucho conservativo history here.
Now, if we can just sort out the gender stereotypes that happen in the media here...sigh. Wouldn't that be nice.
even though the thesis was at the printers and most of the hard work was done, this weekend was unconveniently full of stuff to look at. in fact, i went to about 12 performances/exhibitions in 4 days - it was like i was travelling in europe again (except i also had to squeeze in a list of things to do).
here's a little about them all:
peter greenaway's the last supper
i went in on thursday afternoon, a little sceptical and expecting to not have to pay for the work. i grumbled a bit at the non-student prices, not to mention my initial comparison to the amazing bill viola works at venice biennale that i fell in love with. but as the light, video, painting work unfolded, i was captured. the way he manipulated that image and unlocked the narrative in the original painting was, actually, captivating. it was a subtle unfurling of rapture and i found myself thinking about it again and again - which is always a good sign for me. my criticisms are: that it needed to finish 2-3 minutes earlier than it did. that sounds like i'm being picky, but you start to anti-climax and that's not a good way to leave a theatre, or whatever; and lose the entry fee - bill viola at NGV is free and it's comparable to that. i know - i'm a bit all over the place with my sense of worth about things, but hey.
the french and free choice duo at craft vic:
nathan gray ended his excellent exhibition, attack decay sustain release with an evening of experimental music performance. it was a really exciting evening and lovely to see a whole bunch of peeps who had also been at electrofringe.
the french: nathan, julie burleigh and bianca hester, are an emerging collaboration that combine trad pop rhythms with electronic and other wacky sounds (air horn, anyone?). they really play on the mixture of rhythm and sound structure - which of course blissed me out to no end.
surprise of the night was the free choice duo: jarrod zlatic and jess mc elhinney, who do a great, hypnotic electronic 'fabric' of sound, with a performance style reminiscent of gilbert and george's living sculptures. i'm excited about seeing these guys again - they push the audience's sense of anticipation for all things traditionally musical: the pitch change, the bass drop, the rise and fall of the rhythm, whilst maintain this sense of utter control over the whole shebang. looking forward to seeing them again.
alex bennett at kings ARI:
brother of the fabulous suffragette city gal, victoria bennett, alex is investigating sound, performance, behaviour stuff that is complimentary to my stuff - except he's coming at it from a musician/electro production angle. his repeat performance, using his hand-made pneumatic instruments, stagpipes and wheezebox, was absolutely amazing and i'm glad i went (despite being delirious with tiredness).
the dwelling at ACCA
while there have been better group shows at ACCA, this is still a pretty rad themed exhibition. absolute highlight of the show is the work by janet cardiff and george beures miller. i first saw their work in the silenzio exhibition at the fondazione sandretto re rebaudengo, but seeing it again here was wonderful. and then their amazing opus: opera for a small room, is almost inexplicable. it was such an overwhelming joy for me to watch/listen to/experience that i think i don't have the words to be describe it. it's a narrative work, played out through the sound/light-based behaviours of a hermit-type. it's constructed through a series of animatronic responses, all enveloped in a surrounding soundtrack of opera, applause and a freight-train. it's just amazing - so perfectly executed. it made me want to work as their assistant.
it has similarities to work by the kienholzes and a bit like the not-quite-as-engaging mike nelson work in altermodern at the tate triennial ealier this year. But that comparison is only for the purpose of giving you an idea of its scale and scope, rather than as a derogatory way of undermining the work.
just go and see it.
dictionary of imaginary places at the meat market
i was originally intrigued by the source material: sound recordings of conversations on the train and have been keen to see more work at the meat market. thankfully i had no expectations of the work, because it quite a confronting performance - the performers seated and facing the audience in a row of tiered seating - and then acting out a stream-of-consciousness barrage of monologues collaged together. it was almost a dada performance, quite insane in some parts. and i loved it. i enjoyed seeing the bizarre costumes and the random acts of shoving shoes up leotards and copies of mx into bras. wacky. and utterly enjoyable. it gave me a new appreciation for the absurd - as an artform and a phenomenon that presents itself regularly on public transport.
my disco at the forum (becks' rumpus room)
after the drama of DIP, the ernest intensity of the first band, your animal, was way too much for me and i just had to sit up the back and chatter. it's far from my usual way of engaging with music, but i just couldn't take it in, and there's no real break-out area at the forum with a gig like this.
beaches are a band who do the wall of sound like it ain't no thing - a band of 5 gorgeous ladies, who bob mould would be prouda. but, like the vivian girls at TINA, my main criticism is that, it feels like they're riding on the 'novelty' value of that gender thing a little too much. their stage presence is pretty uncompelling and i would love to see the vocal element of their work either tightened or dropped altogether - it just undermined the amazing musicianship that the band has.
my disco, on the other hand, are just a 3 piece and take up the stage like they're movin' in. they were mesmerising in their perfomance and their sound is hypnotic. liam resembles ian curtis in the memetic intensity of his movements and between the 3 of them, their ability to turn trad instruments into pulsating electronic waves is amazing.
pornography - deutsches schauspielhaus von hamburg
i almost didn't buy a ticket to this 'cos i had pretty much spent my festival budget in the first day, but i'm so glad i took the risk. it was a fantastic production.
the sets were amazing - in that they were well-integrated into the dialogue and performance, they were changeable, yet consistent, meaningful as metaphor and abstract enough to be 'furniture'.
watching a play in german was great and i surprised myself with the level of understanding i had (i only partially referred to the surtitles for bits i didn't know) and it was quite amusing sometime seeing the different timings of audience reaction between those who understood german, and those who were reading the english translation. sometimes the actor wouldn't have finished the sentence and the audience were laughing and other times there was a quiet laughter - followed about a minute later by a louder response.
it was confronting, heartwarming, tragic, entertaining and enlightening all at once. and i didn't even get bored. the ensemble approach to the casting and 8 stories was ace and made for a tight production. definitely would go and see it again, given the chance.
phew! what a weekend, huh. satisfying, though. and i'm looking forward to seeing more stuff over the next few weeks.
image credits: all images from the melbourne international arts festival are from the festival website: http://melbournefestival.com.au.
alex bennett's images is from the kings ari site
the image of the free choice duo and nathan gray is from craft victoria's facebook page
update: the thesis is now in. w00t! i now only have to present my research next week and it's all done. huzzah!
cursebird has been around a while, but i haven't had a go until now 'cos, well, i just haven't. it's an aggregate of all the swearing you do on your twitter feed.
i finally got around to having a peek at just how much i love swearing, especially after this post and that vid; and according to cursebird, i swear like an enthusiastic porn star.
an enthuiastic porn star?! i'm not exactly sure what that means, but i'm totally chuffed about it really.
reading my feed of sweary twitter is quite hilarious. kinda like the apple 'incredible, amazing awesome' clip. but more cockney than californian. and not as nicely designed.
As you may have been aware, The Cone of Silence was invited to be part of the Electrofringe Festival the weekend before last in Newcastle, as a direct challenge to the extensive program of noise production and sound art. Somaya and Daniel - directors of the Festival were interested in the antithetical nature of this (non) sound piece as a vital aspect of any discourse about sound, art and public space. And from a sound-geek person's point of view, i was more than interested in attending :D
‘The Cone’ as it became affectionately known as, made regular appearances throughout the city of Newcastle, ‘soundproofing’ it, or at least bringing back some silence to parts of public life:
- Civic Park and the Fountain
- Newcastle Library
- Darby Street (the café/counterculture ‘precinct’ of Newcastle)
- Train between Civic Station and Newcastle Station
- The TINA ‘Zine Fair
- Regular trips down the main thoroughfare – King St, between the Festival club on the hill and Octopod, near Civic Park.
In the evenings, ‘The Cone’ rested at the Festival Club, allowing people to interact with it as a static object or climb in it during gigs. And maybe to give me a bit of a rest. It weighs 10kgs you know...
There was a range of interactions with the Cone of Silence as a feature of public life during the Festival:
- A lot of wry smiles of appreciation from passersby and ‘zine fair visitors
- Rapping on the outside from a group of drunk bogans on the Friday night and the obligatory intense questioning and quasi-harassment
- Intrigue from the Police (but ultimate nonchalance – due to the festival being on)
- No engagement whatsoever on the train (which was interesting in and of itself)
- Trying the piece on by a few brave peeps.
- Being asked if the piece was an ATM (based on a TV Commercial?)
- A loud and cheery “Hi Cone of Silence!!” yelled from a car on Darby St, by a local who had been given flyers two days previously. I was almost a local then.
- And inntense conversation about the codes of silence in Fijian spiritual practice with a woman who had just returned from a silent retreat there. She tried the piece on and wanted lots of photos.
and generally a good feeling about the work.
In terms of art in the public space, the level of interaction with art - certainly facilitated by the parameters of a well-know festival – were encouraging and enlightening.
Each of these reactions, whether it was to the object itself, to the nostalgic Get Smart reference, to the idea of having some ‘space’, or to the intrusion of mobile architecture certainly echoed the sentiments many have with the much-smaller and less-conspicuous versions of acoustic private space: headphones - which is what i was kinda hoping for.
There's more to say about my experience at Electrofringe, but this is just a little taste of the actual work.
Obvious big thanks goes to Somaya and Daniel for their awesome support, courage, organisation and openness as festival directors.
Extra big thanks to Max Milne and Victoria Bennett for their added awesome photo stylee skills.
I've been wanting to post about this for a while, but have been a little, well, manic. Then I get an email about it and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to chat about it here.
Human Rights. And the fantastic book by Geoffrey Robertson - Statute of Liberty.
Don't groan - it's actually really interesting!
I've been reading the book over the last few weeks - as much as i can before i collapse into sleep - and it has been amazingly educational and still absorbing as a novel-of-sorts. I keep getting sucked into it, reading way past my bedtime.
The reason i first got the book was because i felt that, as a citizen in a democratic country, it was my responsibility to engage politically with what goes on here. It was only $20 at Readings, which impressed me no end - i think books about politics should all be super cheap, so that we can actually afford to read them and find out how it all works!
Anyways, when i finally got around to reading it, i was suprised how fluidly it was written - it's like i'm sitting on a couch in an easy lecture by Mr Robertson and he's just telling me, in pretty straight-up lingo, all about the history of human rights law, the history of parliamentary democracy in England (of which i had no idea), Australia's role in developing the Universal Declaration for Human Rights (an Australian lawyer was part of the leading committee in developing it and the main reason we didn't continue the momentum with implementing our own act was because we had everybody's favourite conservative PM in power - Mr Eyebrows the First, Robert Menzies).
The last part of the book (is this call for a spoiler alert? i don't think so) is the draft bill that Robertson has proposed that we enact. Geoffrey (as his wife Ms Lette probably calls him) is a renowned human rights lawyer and all-round good-guy. He is probably biased towards a statutory bill of rights because he's used them time and time and time again to defend a range of people whose rights are being transgressed. But in the book he also addresses the failings of various nations' bills and addresses the arguments from the main critics: the usual suspects - the church and the media. [ed. oh the irony!].
So, when i got the email from Get Up today about the campaign to enact Australia's Human Rights Act, it was bloody awesome to know a little bit more about it than before and to really feel quite confident in writing to my local MP, who just happens to be Essendon Football Club's #1 Ticket Holder: The Hon Lindsay Tanner, MP.
it is one of my life's ambitions to own a piece by hussein chalayan.
i'm so not high-end sample size and nothing would probably suit me, but by god i would love to be here.
can somebody please go on my behalf please? ta.
Today was raining, which put a bit of a dampner on the festival, but I managed to see more stuff than previous days, despite an early performance and a presentation of my own.
Pics are to come, but I managed to catch a bit of a performance and Q&A with Rosy Parlane, a field recording artist from NZ; a snippet of a performance/workshop by Bum Creek – who were positively hilarious and who I’m going to make an effort to see tonight and definitely when I’m back in Melbourne.
I also caught up with the Suffragette City gals, a bit of John Kilduff and the Let’s Paint TV crew and saw some of a presentation and performance by Jim Cuomo, electronic jazz musician, computer games soundtrack developer, avant garde - who is sharing our apartment too.
As you can probably tell, a festival like this is all ‘part-of, in parts and just caught some’. Too much on, not enough time. But in a good way, y’hear? In fact, there were many correlations between my time here and that in Linz at ars electronica, which I think is pretty rad – given that I’m in a small town on the east coast of Australia.
There’s still a lot to process and I’ll write some more about my performances another day, as I will about the invaluable contribution that participating in the festival has made to my own artistic development.
day 2 was the first 'real' day for me. from a performer/artist point of view. i got amongst it. but i still got to check out a few things happening at the festival.
I spent a large chunk of the day performing, or catching up on little tasks. I popped in to check out the China Club Arts Hub – a fluid series of spaces, with open, workshops areas, a great kitchen that serves crepes (including their specialty – the date crepe, with apple). I went to see Matt Rochford’s alarm clock extravaganza – a series of clock radio alarms, mostly set to the same time (give or take the random one or two), which were set to explode at midday on Saturday.
I did get to see an amazing performance – my personal highlight of the festival thus far: Ensemble Offspring, Pimmon and a performance of the Stockhausen piece: Kontakte. Pimmon is an electronic artist and academic who produced some beautiful soundscapes while offspring ensemble make improvised syncopated works. their collaboration was a perfect mixture between the two methods – a great reverb/electro distortion and collage.
The work of Karlheinz Stockhausen is a recent discovery for me, but what a discovery! And this performance was a combination of acoustic instruments, performed by Bernadette Balkus and Claire Edwardes and electronic parts by the fantastic sound engineer, Bob Scott.
As well as a great performance, the amazing aspect was the fact that the two principal performers on stage were both women. Stockhausen is the kinda guy that all the boys love and it’s not often that you see the ladies up there. Well, I was pretty excited anyway.
I did have plans to see Suzanne Grae and the Katies - great band from Melbourne that i keep on missing, but the line-up was mental and they finished before i could get there. sad face.
I arrived in newcastle at about 11am and had Mia, our friendly runner, pick me up from Newcastle station. It was pretty warm and I was carrying my luggage, equipment and an artwork. Hard work, so it was great to get a lift.
I went straight to the Octopod and worked on assembling the cone – did that for a few hours until I needed some food, then decided to actually see some stuff, rehydrate.
there's a lot of great stuff about - lots of street-based sticker stuff, random performances and a bemused kind of vibe.
I met Mika Meskanen - a Berlin-based Finnish artist, who has assembled a Temp Sauna: a temporary sauna (see what he did there) in Civic Park. – right in the centre of Newcastle. It’s fabulous – constructed from tent-structure, thermo wraps, a wood oven with granite stones.
Mason’s festival club launch was great fun – I just scooted around the outside, checkin’ stuff out. I saw Dan Mackinlay’s fantastic performance, chatted with some of the peeps, handed out flyers, etc.
Laughed at the Giraffe Carafe, by Belle Brooks: Typing ‘giraffe sex’ into google yields ungodly results - A pixelated sculpture of two giraffes fucking (see above). Ooh, naughty. Taboo aside, the work is also really well-presented – in a long, narrow room, with a locked, reinforced glass door and dramatic spot lighting. It screams ‘enclosure’.
well, i've been in newcastle, at TINA/Electrofringe since thursday morning and i promise that i would have posted something in depth about it if i could. not that there isn't enough material - there's plenty of that. but it's the time. the time!
here's a gllimpse of how full it's been: what's in my bag.
i've just got back from an amazing performance of stockhausen's kontakte andi have about 5 minutes to finish eating, before heading off to see suzanne grae and the katies perform. but i promise, really promise, that i'll write up a post about the first couple of days when i get home.
and if you're at TINA this weekend, don't forget i have a presentation to give on saturday afternoon, 2pm at the round theatrette. pop in and say hi. at least on your way to the other 55 awesome things on :)
before i left for newcastle, i made a point of cramming in a bunch of melbourne fringe shows to see, including a work by sarah duyshart, lure of echo.
this one i liked. a lot. it's at donkey wheel, which used to be called the melbourne wine society, in the underground cellar space. the only other time i have seen this particular space was as the venue for the rockin’ wedding reception of dear friends. and believe me, this work has utterly transformed the space – which is what i love in an installation piece. especially one that focuses on a highly aural sensory experience.
the work absolutely echoes – both acoustically through the space, and visually – the image of the sand on the floor and above it provide a sharp visual feedback loop, which doesn’t smack you in the face with a thousand references, but perfectly accompanies the glitch soundtrack.
the darkness of the space (which i’m hoping was intentional and not just me being super early on a saturday morning) was spooky, comforting and a well-employed mask, allowing the artwork to reveal what needed to be revealed. nothing worse than a space showing your petticoat :)
i recently heard that repetition is the mark of repression, and given the multiple archways, the loop of soundtrack and the obvious feedback echo repeating in that acoustic environment, the choice of an underground – recessed, if not strictly repressed- architectural context was perfect too.
plus, you know that whole schtick about melbourne being the city of the hidden discovery, well, it resonates here too.
great show and nice use of a space. you should go check it out before the festival ends. check out the deets here.