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Prabke Ouodrtennole sÂŤ nogrofM a divodelnlho prorton.i
Prague Ouodrenniol of i>.rformonoe;e Design and Space
Australia at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space 2015
Working within the PQ15 theme of Weather the Australian Contribution to the 2015 Prague Quadrennial considers the results, the implications and the evidence of action by the masses. The works represented each contain a sense of accumulation and variously express amassed forces (mass consumption, the force of desire, the weight of time, swarming beauty, the enormity of human ingenuity, growing apathy, a political movement or a building empathy). And, tied to our theme, weather itself can be seen to be the result of amassing forces. A mass of water particles. The accumulated forces in a storm. The heat from an infinite number of sun rays. After all a drop of water alone cannot be rain. And the mass of water on earth is such that a small rise in temperature causes the expansion of such a vast number of water particles that the effect is visible and potentially catastrophic. Five Short Blasts by Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey relates directly to this water that ebbs and flows over the surface of our planet but focuses on where the water pathways meet the social and physical architecture of a city. Taking a cumulative approach to content by adding and adjusting to new surrounds without negating previous manifestations, the work expands the auditory landscape to reframe the people and movement of the city. In Super Critical Mass the power of humans amassed is also made audible. By creating a framework that allows for gathering and dispersion of individuals linked through an open format musical action the work is both created by the accumulation of individual actions and through compliance by the group body to a single purpose. While each single voice has its beauty it is only together that the music completes. A structured improvisation, the work deconstructs the line between audience and performer by both confusing the visual cues and by inviting the performers to experience it for the first time simultaneous with the non-performers. Branch Nebulaâ€™s Whelping Box demonstrates a different essential relationship to audience with both demonstrating a necessary capitulation of the public mass for theatre to function. Both surrounding and surrounded by the performance, 1
For more information about PQAU, or any of the projects in this book, scan the QR codes or visit our website.
the audience of Whelping Box create the scenography and participate without forcing action; once you enter this space you are complicit. As you watch and allow yourself to be watched you cannot help but succumb to an empathetic visceral response to the tensions and violence of the performance. What makes an audience is also an open question in The Home Project, made by NORPA from Lismore NSW. This is also the work least extricable from time and place. Developed over three years but actually relying on shared history going back generations this project distilled social and political narratives into a narrative of location and culminated in a multimedia and hospitality event at the iconic Winsome Hotel. The hotel was once an alternate music venue but is now a provider of shelter for men without homes and the location of the Lismore Soup Kitchen. The event brought together two of the town’s communities to be both audience and presenter for each other. It was a resounding and ongoing success despite or perhaps because it was almost derailed by a massive storm and flooding that meant a hurried reorganisation of the event. Within the theme of Weather it is apt to note that the world’s growing homeless populations are those that will feel the ramifications of climate change before those of us with walls as shields. Through the repetition of a simple, raw and very human action the amassed footage of Renae Shadler and Collaborators seen in Yawn provides a poignant picture of a cross section of Australian society. The viewer, although removed from the original interaction, is drawn into an unavoidable physical participation as the observation of these numerous yawns has the expected empathetic effect. Its implication of apathy is a contrast to the experience of watching the documentation of PVI’s Resist where the viewer finds themselves cheering the fight as the PVI team takes on the role of the ruling party to battle
it out against the people. Through an apparently simple premise the work raises a consciousness of the issues that affect the public and reflects upon political process itself. By pitting one mass against another (in the form of an individual’s weight or strength) Resist can be read as a metaphor for the workings of democracy where the greater number or greater power wins the day. While many of these projects use the mass of humans as both content and process, the video for Malthouse Theatre’s The Shadow King is focused on the mass of the earth itself. As Jason Tamiru (Associate Producer The Shadow King and Yorta Yorta Man) says “The land sings, dances and cries”. It is a poignant statement for the indigenous people of Australia who are linked through time and blood to a vast, often foreboding but ever present landscape and a sentiment articulately expressed by the production. These are landscapes largely emptied of people, showing a land that will continue long after we have ceased to tread. The films within The Shadow King are almost the antithesis of the extraordinary, bubbling and human energy of Back to Back Theatre’s The Democratic Set. Rather than film within the theatre this is film of theatre; opposed to the constancy of land it is a temporary structure purposefully replicated rather than naturally unique; and it is not tied to a particular place but has and continues to fleetingly fill spaces throughout the world. What is abundant in these boxes is human ingenuity. This collection of moments underlines what the amassing of the works in the exhibit seeks to express; that our actions and participation in the culture of consumption can be detrimental but simultaneously we are an energy and an ingenuity; that we are a creative force. That, as a mass, we also create beauty. We create community. We surprise and move forward. We make storms but we also make shelter from them. Anna Tregloan PQAU Curator
#thecolouroftheskytoday is a participatory project conceived for PQ15 that over six months invited Australian artists, designers and the public to capture and submit photographs of the ever changing vista above. This collection has been animated and projected within the exhibition. During the exhibition hours Australia is mostly in darkness but by reanimating these skies as artificial light we embark on a game of time and place. For the full list of contributors please visit our website.
In my twenties, I spent time on the street, days and weeks without a place to call home. What becomes apparent very quickly when you don’t have a roof over your head is that your body continues to function in the same way it did when you had a place to call home. Having a body can be a real drag. It requires things that can be difficult to care about if you have too much going on in your mind. Something I’ve noticed about the crew at the Winsome, particularly the new arrivals, is that there’s a split between the mind with all its plans, ideas, conflicts, voices, and dreams, and the body with all its rudimentary, functionary needs. It’s like… everything would be so easy if I didn’t have to meet my body’s needs.
The Winsome Hotel is currently operating as a homeless shelter. It’s a neat idea, strip the kegs, beer taps, and pokies out of an underperforming hotel and turn it into a space to provision hospitality to the homeless. It was hard to say no to participating in such a great initiative. The thing about the Winsome that I immediately responded to is that it represents a civic response to homelessness. It’s not being funded by a church or a religious order, which is not to say religious institutions don’t do a great deal of good work for the homeless, but I didn’t want to participate in a charity. The men at the Winsome don’t need charity; they need a place to sleep, access to a kitchen, a bathroom, and a place to relax. Those things underscore what hospitality means, and the Winsome is a unique civic response to people who find themselves without a place to call home. Besides, for me, it’s a onenight stand. How bad can it be?
The residents who have been at the Winsome for a while discover that their minds and the bodies rejoin. Most of the men are super relaxed. And this is a shelter for men: 18 of them in 18 separate rooms. Four of them have agreed to help me cook tonight for what has become dinner for 150 pax. No one else has spent time in a commercial kitchen, which, in a general sense probably means they have a higher IQ than me, but which also means, I’ve got to run this gig with a bunch of cowboys. They all look good standing around in striped aprons sharpening knives, but that ‘aint gonna cut it when the dinner bell sounds. As I keep telling them… “Two words, boys” “Yes, Chef?” they yell. They’re learning; it’s not all bad, but it’s not exactly fine dining either. Where the fuck is Scotty when I need someone to yell at? by Jim Hearn writer/ chef/ academic researcher Excerpt from Griffith Review 44: Cultural Solutions 2014
‘Jesus,’ Johnny says. ‘Jesus fucking Christ.’ ‘What?’ Bob asks, concerned. ‘It’s like…’ ‘What!’ Anguish pushes Johnny around the room. ‘Like…’ Anguish is hard to live with.
Anguish by Jim Hearn
So I’m standing in front of a six-burner stove at the Winsome Hotel in Lismore. After leaving ‘Rae’s on Wategos’ as head chef and writing High Season: a memoir of heroin and hospitality, as Chopper might say, I’ve really landed on my… knees. Not that anyone here cares how I’m feeling about cooking again.
“Everybody deserves; full belly, not hungry, and a fluffy pillow, safe bed, warm bed ... and a fluffy pillow” Laurie, The Winsome Choir Photo of Ray Parry by Karla Dickens
“Cos property, it takes you away from God you know.” Mick, a Winsome resident
Year 1 of The Home Project asked citizens “if local Council erected a statue in your honour what would it look like?”. 6
The Home Project has generated multiple creative works expressing ideas, research and personal stories from people living without homes in Lismore, a regional town in northern NSW, Australia. Developed over three years in partnership with Southern Cross University the project has created interactive installations, site-specific theatre, music, radio broadcast, visual art, academic research papers and literary publications. The Home PQAU installation presents The Home Project as a snapshot across its three years. The project started by inviting the Lismore community to respond to the concept of ‘place’, and ‘home’ through a series of interactive artworks. Participants were invited to create living statues accompanied by audio plaques. The second stage investigated The Winsome Hotel, now home to the Lismore Soup Kitchen, and mapped its previous lives as an iconic pub, a 1920’s hotel and popular entertainment venue. For the final stage, six artists worked in residence at the Winsome Hotel over a four- month period running creative workshops. This culminated in an interactive theatre experience featuring art installations, performance poetry, song and AV design. Guests were invited to explore the Winsome Hotel as a multi-media space before sharing a sumptuous meal prepared with the residents. NORPA is the leading theatre company shaping contemporary performance in regional Australia.
Every Body Eats Vicky pulls espresso for the cashed-up No booze, plenty of cigarettes The talk is of conflicts old and new Winter blows through the door Wednesday Choir practice Participants gather Gene sits upright at a laptop doing good deeds for the Government B Flat B Minor B Major Denise joins Keith at the piano
Photo | Karla Dickens
Sings Unknown Tune
Unknown Tune by Jim Hearn
Installation + Photo | Karla Dickens
Keith plays piano: unknown tune Winsome Hotel: homeless shelter, Lismore Murray stalks the dining room intent One-dollar lunch at the Soup Kitchen
The Democratic Set
Back to Back Theatre
Back to Back Theatre
Photo, Carl Newland | Bristol, 2010
Presented in a purpose built film set, each performance takes place in the same egalitarian environment. The result is a visual forum, a performance assembly that demonstrates how theatre as an experience and way of reading the world can â€“ like democracy â€“ allow people to be seen, to speak, and to be heard. 10
What emerges for spectators watching one of the final filmic versions is a series of images, questions and provocations about what art is, what it can be and what it ought to be. More concretely what also emerges is a familiar questioning, one that Back to Back’s work always engenders, and that is about the gaps, silences, and obfuscations that operate in our society. As the company describe it, the project creates a space in which ‘contributing artists and audience are able to project their own understanding of the principles that underpin democracy’. It is a residency model that explores ‘the belief that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy social, political and economic rights and opportunities’ (Back to Back 2010). Through the collaborations and exchanges that occur among and between both disabled and able-bodied artists the project challenges ideas about who has the right or who is privileged to occupy the artistic space and who does not or is not. It also provides a creative context in which each artist has control over how they elect to utilize their time in the box. For some the focus is on being an artist, or manipulating form, space and language. For others it is simply to play—to see what can be done in a single camera pan. And for others still it is about experiencing and transmitting an emotional state: joy, humour, silliness, uncertainty, pain, intensity or confusion.
Excerpt from essay The Democratic Set: “A cavalcade of portrait, soapbox and drama” Grehan, Helena (2013) From ‘We’re People Who Do Shows’: Back to Back Theatre Performance, Politics, Visibility, Edited by Helena Grehan and Peter Eckersall Aberystwyth: Performance Research Books, pp. 148—156
The box is a free space to be pushed, extended or manipulated. It is, for example, in one moment a home and then part of a beach landscape, a prison and a place to stop along a railway track. The images created in the process vary from playful explorations of the space, of other people or animals to serious and seriously moving mini manifestos on life, pain, representation and sorrow.
There have been many iterations of the project; each one is unique and is informed by the needs, desires and artistic contributions of those involved. Each residency creates a space in which ‘unrestricted and uncensored explorations of the grand ideals of equality and freedom’ can be negotiated (Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts 2012). During each residency core members of the ensemble act as hosts and ‘create a sense of energy in the rehearsal space’ by talking to participants and helping to put them at ease. (Grehan and Eckersall, 2012)
Photo, Carl Newland | Filming on The Democratic Set set
The participants in The Democratic Set produce images that reflect a sense of control over the aesthetic as well as the political and social context within which they operate. They play with space and theme and in the process call our attention to the idea of a frame and to the ways in which this can be negotiated, inhabited or responded to.
Photo, Carl Newland
Photo, Jeff Busby
Branch Nebula Matt Prest Clare Britton
More than a dog’s life
Two men, heads masked with tightly bound packing tape bound aggressively towards each other, restrained by sprung leashes that pull them back at the point where skulls might crack. This violent image of humans behaving like fighting dogs in training is central to Whelping Box, the creation of Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters of Branch Nebula and fellow contemporary performance makers Matt Prest and Clare Britton, performed by Wilson and Prest with ruthless vigour and wit. Prior bouts of training include exercises in which one or other of the men is taught to endure pain (a ‘massage’ with a rusty shovel), to trust his teacher while blindfolded or, critically, not trust at all. The irony is that this all takes place in a large whelping box—a device used for the nurturing of puppies—the audience lining its internal perimeter. Although care seems to be taken, nurture ranks low and our proximity to the performers induces anxiety for them and, at times, ourselves. The box is cleverly designed to be at once wall, platform and resonant chamber. The two men breach it, running and leaping simian and dog-like around and above us, at one stage naked, thrusting pelvises defiantly at each other, cocking legs as if to mark out territory. The miked box amplifies the thump and skid of bodies, scarily enlarging our sense of their power. The box cannot contain this raw masculine energy which is also clearly cultivated for violence. This tension is a key to the show’s dialectical dynamic—a mix of manipulation and exuberance, risk and play, grim comment and literal and quite lateral parody.
Whelping Box, part of Performance Space’s Sexes season, was a long-awaited reminder of how visceral, provocative and intelligent contemporary performance can be.
Images this page + previous Heidrun LĂśhr over page Clare Bwritton
Whelping Box commences with Wilson wielding a long pole with a light at its end which Prest puppyishly pursues, running furiously in circles and then finally joining his master in a war-like dance. After the midshow leap into anarchy, which includes the spraying of biscuit rewards over the audience, a passage ensues in which the men tie themselves to each other with a long twisted strand of clear tape that is bound around waists and thighs (men in the audience reached nervously to safely cup their genitals). A fearsome tug of war follows, actual competition, a display of strength which is almost sculptural in its moments of taut stasis and near snapping point. The final stage of the show transforms into idiosyncratic mythmakingâ€”fantasies of the masculine self. In an inversion of the opening scene, Prest as a glittering magician with an almost feminine aura leads a feral dandy Wilson with the tip of his bliss-inducing wand, accompanied by a bee-like buzz and a soaring, wordless soprano sound score. But this moment of transcendence is mere respite before the testosterone finally kicks in again and loud, joyful and thankfully harmless chaos ensues. In its celebration of masculine physicality, Whelping Box breathtakingly delineates the pleasures, pain and contradictions of play, initiation, bonding, competition, risk and self-mythologising. Within a carefully choreographed framework, Wilson and Prest repeatedly push themselves to the limit, testing their bodies in sustained acts of endurance, living out the very condition they have committed to celebrate and critique.
Like the stage design, Jack Prest’s sound score is enveloping, eerily punctuating and pumping up the action in a quite non-literal manner. A curious design element is a large illuminated square (like an inverted light box) hovering over the action, morphing from one colour to another and slowly descending to the floor where it finally appears to take the two men with it. Did it indicate not so much the demise of masculinity per se, but the condition’s endurance to the end of light and time? What remains so vividly in my consciousness is Whelping Box’s vivid evocation of the complexities of intimate male behaviour (if barely homoerotic) built around physical drive, even at a time when that behaviour can no longer be ascribed to men alone and when the demise of the male of the species is the subject of random sci-fi-ish speculation. More Than A Dog’s Life By Keith Gallasch
Reproduced with permission of writer and publisher from RealTime Magazine, issue 112 realtimearts.net
RESIST Santiago, Chile 2006
THE PEOPLE VS. ANTI-TOBACCO LAWS Recent antismoking laws are prohibiting smoking in all public spaces. THE PEOPLE VS. COFFEE WITH LEGS The objectification of women prevails in the workplace through ‘coffee with legs’ establishments. THE PEOPLE VS. THE EDUCATION SYSTEM 50% of public high school graduates are still failing the college entrance exam due to a corrupt education system. THE PEOPLE VS. HOOD WEARING Public fears around the wearing of a ‘hood’ as it provides anonymity for street criminals / vandals. THE PEOPLE VS. LOW WAGES Around 2 million chileans earn the minimum wage of 136.000 pesos a month. personal indebtedness is more widespread than malnutrition.
THE PEOPLE VS. THE DAY AFTER PILL Continued confusion over the right to administrate the day after pill has led to local clinics issuing ‘postinor’ at their own discretion.
RESIST Junerural NSW, Australia 2010 THE PEOPLE VS. CHILDCARE Childcare costs are still too high and unaffordable by most locals. THE PEOPLE VS. UNDERAGE DRINKING Adults are on-selling alcohol from the boots of their cars in car parks to underage drinkers.
THE PEOPLE VS. MANQUEHUE MOUNTAIN Air pollution caused by industrial and vehicle emissions is aggravated by the cities location in an enclosed valley.
THE PEOPLE VS. STRAY DOGS AND CATS Untagged, unclaimed strays are roaming the streets day and night. THE PEOPLE VS. BOREDOM There is nothing to do in junee and younger citizens are bored. THE PEOPLE VS. WAGGA WAGGA Citizens of junee are fed up with wagga wagga claiming all their local sports heroes. THE PEOPLE VS. RISING ELECTRICITY COSTS Electricity costs have recently tripled for local residents.
PAST The ancient art of tug of war dates back to 2500 B.C. As a tool for peaceful conflict resolution it was used in a wide variety of contexts, Japanese farmers have used the rope to resolve which village would host local markets. in 71 C.E. the Chinese employed it to decide which religion Buddhism or Taoism was more superior, with the results deemed as legally binding under the â€˜law of Godâ€™. PRESENT In resist, PVI Collective bring this ancient tradition into a contemporary context and invite participants to empower themselves by acting out societal beliefs without endangering the social fabric.
THE PEOPLE VS. THE ATHENIUM Recent refurbishments of the heritage listed athenium have exhausted funds within the council and there are now no financial resources to run it.
RESIST The National Cultural Policy APACA Conference, Perth, Australia 2011
THE PEOPLE VS. DRINK DRIVING There are too many incidents of drinking under the influence of alcohol.
THE PEOPLE VS. EXCELLENCE There is widespread concern that ‘artistic excellence’ is based on commercial success.
THE PEOPLE VS. WATER There is selective water allocation to rice growing areas at the expense of cattle farmers.
THE PEOPLE VS. DISPARITY This policy draft doesn’t acknowledge that iconic institutions are funded at the expense of independent artists and small companies.
THE PEOPLE VS. JUNEE JAIL There is no economic benefit to having this high security facility in the town and its presence is resented by local produce suppliers who are no longer primary suppliers.
THE PEOPLE VS. CULTURE The policy draft seems to place us as aspiring to protect, develop, nurture and manage a unique cultural identity. but it is not clear what this cultural identity is.
THE PEOPLE VS. THE POLICE There are not enough police in the town. citizens do not feel adequately protected.
THE PEOPLE VS. CARBON The policy draft doesn’t outline any goals in relation to environmental carbon footprint reduction.
THE PEOPLE VS. THE JAILIES Strangers in town are assumed to be ‘jailies’* and are treated with suspicion, which is impacting on tourism THE PEOPLE VS. RACISM There is an undercurrent of racism directed towards the asian and indigenous population THE PEOPLE VS. JUNEE’S REPUTATION There is a perception from neighbouring townsfolk that ‘protected prisoners’ are used as a free labour to beautify the town. THE PEOPLE VS. CLIMATE CHANGE There is bitter disappointment over the backing down of labour government over climate change policies THE PEOPLE VS. DANCING Dancing is no longer provided as a low-cost social activity in the town THE PEOPLE VS. NEEDLES IN THE PARK There is an excess of syringes in the parks due to over flowing needlebins. THE PEOPLE VS. THE ROSES The excessive rose beds are becoming a traffic hazard, blocking the view of motorists.
RESIST Cultural Centre: Perth, Australia 2011 THE PEOPLE VS. ENTERTAINMENT Nothing happens during the day outside of live entertainment programmed during special events and festivals. THE PEOPLE VS. PARKING Strict parking officers issue infringements without leniency and shop-keepers have identified that their patrons are distracted and anxious whilst shopping. THE PEOPLE VS. BOREDOM There is a perception that the perth cultural centre is dull and boring, underutilized and lacking in connectedness between spaces and architecture. THE PEOPLE VS. SHADE There is neither adequate shade from the sun nor shelter from the rain. THE PEOPLE VS. SOMETHING BIG There is no cultural landmark to identify with and become a major tourist attraction. THE PEOPLE VS. CONCRETE There is too much concrete and the space is uninviting
THE PEOPLE VS. LIQUOR There are no bars in the heart of the cultural centre to enhance the atmosphere at night time. THE PEOPLE VS. COFFEE The coffee is perceived as overpriced, particularly by interstate visitors. THE PEOPLE VS. BINS There are no recycling bins for people to do the right thing. THE PEOPLE VS. THE NIGHT Nothing happens at night outside of specials events and festivals leaving the centre a cultural wasteland.
RESIST Mumbai, India 2013 THE PEOPLE VS. GARBAGE In the spirit of human enterprise, garbage is a source of employment for some. for others it is a huge hygiene issue and affects the livability factor of the city. THE PEOPLE VS. THE POLICE Bribes and haftas in return for favours have become the norm, but most are not reported as the briber gains too. THE PEOPLE VS. EVE TEASING Women regularly encounter verbal, physical and sexual abuse in public spaces. THE PEOPLE VS. THE JUDICIARY The judicial system is plagued by problems of time efficiency. 30 million cases are currently pending in courts across india. THE PEOPLE VS. COVER UPS There is suspicion over where and how public money is spent and a lack of community consultation regarding local infrastructure and services. THE PEOPLE VS. SPACE 60% of the mumbai population live in a 10 x 10 sq ft ‘home’. there is no space for the poor in the city. space is out of space. THE PEOPLE VS. THE WATER Urban slum residents have illegal and semi-legal connections to clean water because their homes are not ‘officially’ recognized.
Images right 1-6 by Sarah Rowbottam, 7-12 by Unknown, 13-18 by Punit Paranjpe, 19-23 by Bohdan Warchomij, 24-25 by Sellina Ou 22
Stills from the on-stage film, produced by Daybreak Films in collaboration with local community and photographs by Jeff Busby.
This Dilly Bag is from Malthouse Theatre’s presentation of The Shadow King, a radically altered version of King Lear, adapted by Michael Kantor and Tom E. Lewis and spoken in five indigenous Australian languages as well as English: Gupapuyngu, Yolngu; Kriol, Katherine; Yumpla Tok and Kala Lagaw Ya, Torres Strait; Baard, Western Australia. It was carried by Frances’ character of Gloucester (the character replaced Shakespeare’s Kent and cleverly emphasised the importance of female elders in community). As a repository of sacred knowledge and objects, the bag was symbolically torn in two and discarded during the production when Edmund with Goneril and Regan capture Lear and Gloucester. The Dilly Bag, its place within this telling of King Lear, and its relationship to both a truth and a misrepresentation of Australian Indigenous culture forms a suite of fascinating and deeply complicated stories. There is a story in the joy of a production that examines a traditional white cultural emblem (Lear) and its western understanding of fighting for, owning and selling land as antithetical to the traditional inhabitation of land by indigenous peoples. There is the story of the creative exchange between the city based creative team and the artisans of Beswick, Katherine and Ramingining and the challenge of making a version of a dilly bag that, despite its great cultural significance, could be torn in two each performance.
The Shadow King Exhibited as part of the Objects Exhibition at PQ 2015
In simple terms a dilly bag is a woven string bag. This particular bag, woven by Frances Djulibing, is in the tradition of her people and comes from North Eastern Arnhem Land. The techniques used in the weaving of the bag have been passed to Frances, who in turn is teaching these to others, in the continuous lineage of the oldest culture on the planet.
Andrew Ford Earth Dances: Music in Search of the Primitive Sydney: Black Inc., 2015
Julian Day + Luke Jaaniste
Super Critical Mass
The fact that a driving instructor may participate in a performance at a prestigious cultural centre - and not simply as a singer, but as a singer who makes choices about when and how to sing, and who is helping devise the structure of the overall work - says a lot about Super Critical Mass. It is, evidently, a project concerned with social access, demystification of the creative act and democracy. But if it did not also sound good, there would be no musical point to it. Day, Jaaniste and McKay are particularly interested in exploring multiple versions of the same basic sound. One hundred flutes playing together also form a single super flute. The resultant music is partly an exploration of the essence of the instruments or voices involved.
Like many contemporary exhibitions worldwide, the collection hang at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney can appear turbulent. Artworks of wildly contrasting aesthetics and materialities compete within its rooms. Each piece advocates for attention: a slow-motion video of a skateboarder, a heavy scroll of burnt paper, a perpetually spinning piece of string. In June 2014, Super Critical Mass responded to this heterogeneous display with an act of contrasting homogeneity. Over two days, for an hour each day, up to seventy untrained vocalists wandered throughout the spaces. Dressed normally and ranging widely in age and appearance, they were indivisible from other spectators until their intermittent hums or open vowels became audible or synchronised. The ensemble mostly dispersed throughout the exhibition maze but converged at several moments, filling the air with unified full-voiced singing before again dispelling. This extended action was part of the collaborative performance project Super Critical Mass. Since 2007 the project has amassed temporary communities to articulate and problematize the physical and social architectures of various public places using self-similar sound. Each work evolves as a set of memorized instructions developed between the artists and participants through a series of workshops both on and off site. SCM embraces an in-built tension between top-down authority (it is a project led by artists) and bottom-up democracy (works are built using collective skills that only emerge through dialogue and action). The resolution is an understanding that the community will be heard through a moment of agreed conformity. It is a project about community; not about representing existing ties and identities but, rather, constructing a community from scratch.
2014 25 bells Melbourne 75 voices Sydney 15 snare drums Parramatta 2000 pieces of paper Melbourne 2013 The sonic effect of this complex interweaving of voices was like a drifting swarm of cicadas, increasing in volume when clustered together. Eleanor Zeichner ARTAND Australia
100 brass Birmingham, UK 25 percussionists Sydney 15 clarinets Sydney 30 voices Sydney 2012 55 bells Brisbane 16 winds + synths + electric guitars London, UK 15 tubas/euphoniums London, UK 45 voices Manchester, UK 20 brass Salford, UK 65 voices Sydney 10 saxophones Sydney 15 bells Melbourne 30 bells Melbourne 2011 25 saxophones Edinburgh, UK 45 saxophones Brisbane 35 brass New York, USA 8 flutes The Hague, Netherlands 2010 40 winds Melbourne 35 flutes Brisbane 2009 25 flutes Brisbane 2008 80 flutes Sydney
Super Critical Mass
Renae Shadler + Collaborators
In-ya-ear Five interactive artworks make up In-ya-ear, a public engagement project presented at various Metro Stations in Melbourne, Australia between 2013 and 2015.
Graphic Riccardo Ciriani
In-ya-ear aims to connect people in public spaces. Created especially for each site, the intent is to make us more aware of how we subconsciously affect each other every day to strengthen our sense of community.
Photos 1 | Crush Candy Rebecca Jensen 2 | Stories at the Station Renae Shadler 3 | Yawn Stills from film 4 | Shuffle Pippa Dodds 5 | Strange Not Strange Pippa Dodds
1 | Crush Candy A reinvention of Candy Crush, the game app, involving three participants. Each participant is given one of three matching bright objects and asked to complete the set by finding and connecting with the others. A question is then revealed: â€˜What do the three of us have in common?â€™
2 | Stories at the Station A verbatim soundtrack created onsite with members of the community. Interviewees are invited to tell a story about a time when they connected with a stranger.
3 | Yawn This activity looks at the contagious nature of a yawn and its possible scientific link to empathy. Part portraiture, part participatory event, Yawn includes making and screening a short film of accumulated yawns over the duration of the installation.
4 | Shuffle Members of the public listening to headphones are invited to play their own music on portable speakers for all to hear. The project artists and participant then create a performative response to the music together, creating a pathway from private to public.
More: pqau.com.au/2015/renae-shadler-yawn 5 | Strange Not Strange A facilitated encounter for two strangers in the form of an instructional audio work. Movement, language and touch are explored from within a â€˜green havenâ€™ created by potted native trees.
Madeleine Flynn + Tim Humphrey
Five Short Blasts
â€œI am not sure of your intentions and am concerned we are going to collide.â€?
Concept collage of Melbourne, Australia + Prague, Czech Republic 41
Five Short Blasts is an encounter with a city on the water for a flotilla of boats and radio broadcast. In international maritime language the sound signal of five short blasts means â€œI am not sure of your intentions and am concerned we are going to collideâ€?. Vessels use the audible signal of five short blasts to communicate this alarm, using a horn, a whistle, or whatever is to hand. Five Short Blasts is inspired and deeply informed by this maritime expression of uncertainty, drawing attention to the shared act of navigating the unknown. The journey in small boats quietly turns our ears toward the incidental and inter-dependent orchestration of weather, water, people and boats. The work literally navigates through a series of overlapping spheres of activity, signalled with a composed radio broadcast that inexplicably and ambiguously blends with the ambient soundscape. Five Short Blasts is a choreography of overlapping activities and an orchestration of all kinds of sound signals and voices associated with the water, with its intersection of industry, community and recreation. The work was first presented in Melbourne, Australia in 2013, for five electric boats, with text by Tony Birch. Presented for ten rowboats on the Vltava River, Prague in June 2015, with text by Pavel Brycz.
Five Short Blasts, Melbourne 2013
Pages 4 - 8 The Home Project NORPA Northern Rivers Performing Arts
Pages 9 - 13 The Democratic Set Back to Back Theatre
PQAU Video projections Bronwyn Purvis + Karla Dickens
PQAU Video Projection Rhian Hinkley
NORPA Artistic Director Julian Louis NORPA Executive Producer Emily Berry NORPA Creative Producer Bethwynn Hackett Southern Cross University Dr Grayson Cooke, Dr Rebecca Coyle + Dr Jim Hearn The Winsome Hotel / Lismore Soup Kitchen Meike Bell, Sharon Dwyer and the Winsome Management Committee + Volunteers Winsome You Losesome Director Bronwyn Purvis Writer / Chef Jim Hearn Visual / Installation / AV Artist Karla Dickens Musician / Sound Designer Jamie Birrell Choir Director Peter Lehner Program Design Amy Shaw Actor/ Performer Mitch King Lighting Design Rich Morrod Video Documentation Salvador Castro, Grayson Cooke, Karla Dickens
Original Concept + Set Design Bruce Gladwin Original Set Design + Construction Mark Cuthbertson Original Videography Rhian Hinkley
Community Participants Ray, Richard, Laurie, Rachel, Rachel, Margaret, Moppy, Helen, Leanne, Braiden, Oshia, Jenny, Carol, Dawn, Col, Andy, Shaz, Millie, Uncle Trevor, Dave, Zac, Donna, Martina, Wild, Angela, Julie, Rachel, Donald, David, Anthony James, Winnie, Gary, Andrew, Rob, Dougie, Mick, Paul, Sean, Gene, Big Steve, Mark and Southern Cross University Students. Supported by
The film for PQAU was created using footage from 15 Democratic Set residencies: Fairfax Festival, Swan Hill; Footscray Community Arts Centre, Footscray; Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh; Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Casula; Kumuwuki / Big Wave: the 2012 RAA Conference, Goolwa; Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, Mandurah; Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart; Junction Arts Festival, Launceston; Barkly Regional Arts, Tennant Creek; Darwin Community Arts, Darwin; Arts House, Melbourne; Performance Space, Sydney; Newcastle Community Arts Centre, Newcastle; Duesseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Dusseldorf; Aarhus Festival, Aarhus. Back to Back Theatre would like to wholeheartedly thank each and every community member that contributed to the making of not only the films above, but each Democratic Set residency over time. We’ve been inspired by your limitless imaginations and unique meditations on what it means to be human. Supported by
Page 14 - 18 Whelping Box Branch Nebula with Matt Prest + Clare Britton branchnebula.com pqau.com.au/2015/branch-nebula-whelping-box Co-Creators Branch Nebula (Lee Wilson, Mirabelle Wouters) Matt Prest + Clare Britton Sound Artist Jack Prest Whelping Box was originally produced by Managing and Producing Services (MAPS), a joint initiative of the Australia Council and Arts NSW, managed by Performing Lines, and subsequently by Intimate Spectacle. Its development was supported by Performance Space, Critical Path and HotHouse Theatre’s A Month in the Country residential program, a project delivered in partnership with Albury City, and by the Australia Council, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body. Supported by
Page 19 - 23 resist pvi collective pvicollective.com pqau.com.au/2015/pvi-resist Core Artists Kelli McCluskey + Steve Bull Producer Kate Neylon resist was originally commissioned by the South Project. Supported by
Julian Day + Luke Jaaniste
Renae Shadler + Collaborators
Madeleine Flynn + Tim Humphrey
Page 24 - 28 Shadow King Malthouse Theatre
Page 29 - 33 Super Critical Mass Julian Day + Luke Jaaniste
Page 34 - 38 In-ya-ear Renae Shadler + Collaborators
Page 39 - 43 Five Short Blasts Madeleine Flynn + Tim Humphrey
PQAU Video projections Natasha Gadd for Daybreak Films
PQAU Video projections Hospital Hill
Co-Creators Michael Kantor + Tom E. Lewis
The performance featured in the PQAU video was commissioned for Sonic Social, curated by Performance Space at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2014.
Lead Artist Renae Shadler Facilitator / Collaborator Rebecca Jensen, Alicia Beckhurst, Virginia Francia Site Coordinator Cameron Stewart Sound Design Robert Jordan Mentor Susie Dee
Director Michael Kantor Associate Director Melodie Reynolds-Diarra Set Design Paul Jackson, Michael Kantor + David Miller Costume + Props Design Ruby Langton-Batty Lighting Design Paul Jackson Sound Design Kelly Ryall Film Natasha Gadd, Rhys Graham + Murray Lui Music Consultant Iain Grandage Musical Arrangements + Direction John Rodgers
Creators Madeleine Flynn + Tim Humphrey Text Pavel Brycz Production Assistance + Recordist Amรกlie Bulandrovรก Production Support Bindi Green Design Letterbox Original presentation partners City of Melbourne, and the Port of Melbourne. Supported by Australia Council for the Arts and Creative Victoria. Supported by
Cast Jada Alberts, Jimi Bani, Frances Djulibing, Rarriwuy Hick, Damion Hunter, Kamahi Djordon King, Tom E. Lewis, Natasha Wanganeen Band Selwyn Burns, Jida Gulpilil, Bart Willoughby
Design + Production Team Anna Tregloan Curator + Designer Virginia Hyam Producer Barbora Jakubcová Production Management in Prague Tobhiyah Stone-Feller Design + Curatorial Assistant Paul Matthews Installation + Support Lucy Thornett Design assistant + Event coordinator Owen Phillips Furniture Design Assistance + Room Coordinator PQAU Book Paul Matthews Editor + Designer Anna Tregloan Additional text + imagery PQAU Exhibition Video + Website Toby Knvett Video Programming + PQAU website design Robert Hughes Video + Website Build Major Sponsors
Thanks to Martin Zizka from Natural Building, Furniture & Design, Daniela Pařízková, James Turnbull, Katherine Bliss, Larissa Petryca, Lynette Wallace, Richard York, Rosie Dwelly, Arts House Melbourne, Sodja Lotker, Sophie Travers, Steve Gove, Tulleah Pearce and Performance Space, and all the artists, designers and producers who made and continue to make such inspiring work. 47
This book was created for the Australian Exhibit Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space 2015 ÂŠ 2015
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Australia at the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space 2015. Work from the featured artists in the Australian exhibit.