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ISSUE TWO ______________________________

COLLECTIVE THINKING ______________________________

feat. BROWN COUNCIL

One Hour Laugh, 2009. 1 Channel HD Video. 60’ Sound: Frederick Rodrigues.

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LK COLLECTIVE 2/6


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A Comedy, 2010. (Trailer). Brown Council.

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BROWN COUNCIL Brown Council is a Sydney-based performance collective formed in 2007. Artists Frances Barrett, Kate Blackmore, Kelly Doley and Diana Smith collaboratively produce performance and video works that complicate distinctions between actor and performance artist whilst provoking thought regarding the role of the audience as passive observer or active participant. Through conceptual devices including spectacle and endurance, the council draw upon historical lineages within the realms of both high and popular culture. Brown Council’s latest endurance performance, Mass Action: 137 Cakes in 90 Hours, in association with the NSW Country Women’s Association has been selected as a finalist in the Best Arts Event category for the 2012 FBi SMAC Awards (Vote HERE). The following interview explores concepts of endurance and collaboration within Brown Councils practice, their various influences and methodological approach to producing work; from conceptual provocation to the live performance.

YOLK COLLECTIVE YOLK Collective is a not-for-profit collective comprised of six Art Theory students from COFA. YOLK Collective’s objective is to create opportunities and editorial for emerging artists. We also write artist profiles, exhibition reviews, quirky articles, essays, and some of our projects include small focus exhibitions and events. In an artistic climate where opportunities are hard to come by, we decided to make our own and provide some for others in the process.


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Portrait of Brown Council by Brown Council. 2010. Live Performance. Installation view, Campbelltown Arts Centre Project Space, Melbourne Art Fair. Photograph: Tom Polo.

TO WHAT DEGREE ARE YOUR WORKS METICULOUSLY PLANNED BEFORE EXECUTION AND/ OR MADE ON CREATIVE IMPULSE? We’re a collective of four so usually our works take a lot of planning and discussion until we’re all completely satisfied with the concept and the way it will be executed. We work differently depending on whether we’re making a performance for video or for a live context; for our live performances, often we’ll create a basic structure from which we can improvise within, this allows us to make impulsive decisions. Our videos tend to be a but more rehearsed due to setting the lighting and camera angles ect. for each shot.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STRONGEST INFLUENCES THAT HAVE INSPIRED THE COLLECTIVE’S ARTISTIC OUTPUT?

The history of performance art and conceptual practice particularly from the 60s & 70s including body art, feminist performance and fluxus. Also The Women’s Art Movement and Women’s Art Register in Australia; and comedy by conceptual comedians like Andy Kaufman and Lenny Bruce.


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Falling, 2008. 2 Channel HD Video Installation. 2’30” Video: William Mansfield, Music: Falling, Roy Orbison.


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[BROWN COUNCIL ARE] “... among a generation of younger performance makers whose exploratory practices are reinvigorating the dialogue between visual art performance and theatre locally, and generating new energy around the hybrid genre of live art… this is rich and complex territory.” - Anneke Jaspers, runway, Issue 18, 2011. ______________________________


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Runaway. 2008. 1 Channel HD Video 6’. Video: William Mansfield. Music: Runaway, Kevin Blechdom

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MASS ACTION: 137 CAKES IN 90 HOURS, THE COUNCIL’S LATEST PERFORMANCE PIECE, EXPLORES ENDURANCE AND COLLABORATION WITH THE COUNTRY WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION

(CWA). HOW DID YOU FIND THE EXPERIENCE? Extremely rewarding and exhausting. It was a great chance to meet a new community of women that we wouldn’t normally have engaged with, and through skills sharing and conversation, it felt like a real exchange took place between us and the members of the CWA we met as part of the project. It was the first time we’ve done such a long piece and surprisingly, we all really enjoyed it! We each found a way to make it through the 90 hours, particularly in the early hours of the morning – some of us tried to conserve energy by not speaking, others became hysterical – it was interesting to see how each of us handled the experience. Even though it was hard on the body, it was interesting to be pushed to our limits in this context.

HOW DOES ENDURANCE FACTOR INTO THE PERFORMANCES? Typically we use endurance as a way of removing a concept or an action from its original context and then playing with what it looks and feels like, in order for it to be viewed in a new way. In the past we’ve done this with repeatedly telling bad jokes; laughing non-stop for an hour; and attempting to perform magic tricks over and over again (A Comedy, Big Show, One Hour Laugh). For Mass Action we extended the domestic task of baking into a act of enormous endurance, highlighting the repetitive and laborious aspects to this activity so that conversations around traditional notions of ‘women’s work’ could emerge.

IF YOU COULD BE PART OF AN ART MOVEMENT FROM THE PAST, WHICH WOULD YOU PICK AND WHY? (I.E. POP ART, RENAISSANCE, FUTURISM, DADA) Making work for Womanhouse and enrolled in the Feminist Art Program at California Institute of the Arts in 1971 with Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro as our teachers, California. L.A. http://womanhouse.refugia.net/

IF YOU COULD MEET ANY ARTISTS DEAD OR ALIVE WHO WOULD THEY BE?

Andy Kaufman, Yoko Ono and Barbara Cleveland.


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Mass Action: 137 Cakes in 90 Hours. 2012. Live Performance. 90 Hours. Image: Pia Van Gelder

DOES THE ROLE OF THE ARTIST DIFFER FROM THE ROLE OF THE COLLECTIVE? Do you mean the artist collective? If so, then no, they are the same, just the process and outcome is different. There is a sense of separation from the outcome if it is made collectively because there is no one true author. It can be liberating being in an artistic collective because the anonymity creates a space of risk and experimentation. But both artist and collective are making art so in that sense their roles are the same.

CAN YOU RECALL A MEMORABLE MOMENT, EVENT OR OCCURRENCE THAT HAS SHAPED OR HEAVILY INFLUENCED THE CREATION OF YOUR COLLECTIVE? The event that created the collective was quite accidental. We were in a larger COFA Club called Drama Club at the time and we were offered to do a performance at a short works night. No one in the group wanted to do it except Fran, Kate, Di and myself. It was the blind enthusiasm of the four of us coming together to make a performance involving too many props, a cake, the birth of a fish and choreographed dancing to Michael Jackson at the Newtown RSL, that was the birth of what we now know as Brown Council.

HOW DO ALL YOU LIKE YOUR EGGS? In ovaries.


THANK YOU Brown Council. Images and video courtesy of the artists. All rights reserved. We also wish to thank Arc @ COFA and Frontline Print.

YOLK COLLECTIVE Oliver Godsell Paloma Gould Georgie Hannam Vanessa Low Tahjee Moar Olivia Welch.


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yolkcollective.blogspot.com X browncouncil.com ______________________________

Collective Thinking feat. Brown Council (2/6)  

YOLK Collective interview Brown Council.

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