Break Up (We Need to Talk) – Art Review

By Callum Devlin

Artwork: Break Up (We Need To Talk)

Artist: Binge Culture Collective

In a dark, sombre theatre we encounter five exhausted performers, all dressed in banana suits. They take turns acting as the protagonist, who sits front and centre, their back turned to the other four who make up the other character in this dialogue. We grow to know these two characters very intimately, as the conversation bounces backwards and forwards as they negotiate, argue, plead, defend, for six hours. You are watching a break-up, a real one, and it is in equal parts as emotionally exhausting and fascinating as it sounds.

Binge Culture Collective (Claire O’Loughlin, Gareth Hobbs, Fiona McNamara, Joel Baxendale & Ralph Upton) performing Break-Up (We Need To Talk) at the Basement Theatre, Valentines Day 2015.

Binge Culture Collective (Claire O’Loughlin, Gareth Hobbs, Fiona McNamara, Joel Baxendale & Ralph Upton) performing Break-Up (We Need To Talk) at the Basement Theatre, Valentines Day 2015.

Binge Culture Collective first performed Break-Up at the 2014 Fringe Festival, at the back of Matchbox Studios on Cuba Street. I wasn’t there. I also wasn’t there when they performed it again at the Basement Theatre in Auckland earlier this year. Or when they most recently performed it at La Mama Experimental Theatre Club in New York earlier this month. And yet, for some reason I am always explaining this work to people when I need to explain what theatre can do.

And this is theatre, I think. I mean, it is a live performance delivered to an audience. But it’s not for an audience. The audience is not being spoken to, they are eavesdropping on a conversation. It is improvised, but there are no audience suggestions. The performers rely on each other to create content, building an amalgamation of five perspectives on love and heartbreak. In that sense, it is more of a negotiation; you have each performer trying to articulate their point of view (as the protagonist) and yet also provoking, defending and calling each detail into question.

This is a narrative work, at least in the sense that there is a start time, and six hours later there is the inevitable end point. Each time the work is presented, it is simultaneously streamed on the internet, so anyone can tune in from anywhere to watch the mess unfold. This is how I was able to experience the work, on my laptop in my bedroom. In this way it is almost aggressively un-intimate, creating a biting tension between the private nature of the content, and its very public transmission.

Break-Up is located very much to each time that it is presented, locked temporally to the moment of creation and never repeated. The duration of the work, and the open access of the work affords the performers the luxury of not having to entertain. Instead, the focus is honest communication, and the careful navigation of potentially incendiary material.


What is Live Art? by Julian Sofaer – Art Review

By Callum Devlin

28 August, 2002

In the video a man steps swiftly from the side of the frame directly into a close-up.

“What is live art?” he says. The camera zooms out slowly, revealing a crowded footpath of pedestrians floating by. The man speaks directly into the camera, with the articulate air of a broadcast journalist. “Well,” he continues, “at its most fundamental, Live Art is when an artist chooses to make work directly in front of the audience in space and time. So instead of making an object, or an environment and leaving it for the audience to encounter in their own time, Live Art comes into being at the actual moment of encounter between artist and spectator.”

He is speaking to the camera, to the audience, but he is performing for the crowd around him. People stop, stare at the camera and at the man. He is a spectacle, a curiosity, but not un unfamiliar one. The image of a journalist performing their to-camera monologue in the public is a well-worn trope. It instantly connects the content of the story directly to the city, to the people they are speaking about, and that their story seems to be affecting. But the curiosity of the crowd around him is electric, overly so. The content of his monologue directly matches the form that it is taking. Moreover, the content is echoed in the reaction of the crowd around him, creating a feedback loop that builds between the two.

The punchline is the hole in his pants, revealed as he turns on his heel at the end of his speech. A perfect circle exposing his ass to the world, visible for a moment before he disappears into the crowd. Instantly the speech is recontextualised, and a second viewing is called for, as you are now “in” on the joke.

The video is a curious statement. Initially it serves as a clear description of an art movement, it’s history and priorities. The text itself is cohesive, entertaining, and informative, while the performance slick and assertive. However, in it’s form as a video, it seems to initially contradict the art movement that it seems to be a part of. Live Art is defined as taking place in the moment of creation, between the viewer and the audience. The video acts as a permanent ghost of the initial performance.

@realcarrotfacts – Publication Review

By Callum Devlin

3:10 PM ­ 2 Feb 2015

“carrot” is spelled with a C but it sound like a K i don’t want to die alone

7,247 RT 8,011 FAV

What do we know about @realcarrotfacts? He (yes, he) is very sad, extremely lonely man. He sends poorly formed, grammatically incorrect tweets to an audience of hundreds of thousands. He tweets about his lonely life, his ex girlfriend ‘Megan’, and always, always about carrots. He is adored, consoled, and frequently imitated (see @carrotfacts, @fakecarrotfacts, @officialcarrotfacts etc.) He tweets about famous figures (incorrectly), about important events (accidentally), and about the loneliness of life and the meaningless of existence, and how carrots can, maybe, sometimes help.

3:55 PM ­ 22 Nov 2014

If your apartment is too quiet, throw a carrot at the wall so it makes a noise and you feel like your not alone. It works trust me please

3,973 RT 8,636 FAV

On Twitter there are three major groups of users. You have your normal, every day, social media Twitter people. You have the celebrities, institutions and products which a user may interact with, acting as the most direct form of brand integration that advertisers have at their disposal. And then you have the ‘parody’ accounts. Parody accounts can bring to life inanimate objects (@Pharrell’s Hat), act as anti­-advertising for established brands (@nihilist_arbys), or, in @realcarrotfacts case, create humour from somewhere between heightened absurdity and the straight up banal. These accounts can be utilised for entertaining reading by themselves. However, their real strength lies in how they integrate into users Twitter feeds. Twitter is known for it’s simple, reliable interface, where all tweets sit equally on the page. A sarcastic, offensive brand­-parody might sit alongside real, paid­-for advertisements, exposing the artifice of marketing­-hype.

7:23 PM ­ 14 Jan 2015

Carrots taste good megan i will never get over you

6,495 RT 8,588 FAV

As a narrative form, Twitter exists in real time, as you do. You follow the extended narrative of the psyche of a particular character, delivered to you 140 characters at a time. @realcarrotfacts in all of its absurdity is, in essence, long form, micro-­storytelling, sitting, integrated within the narratives of all of your friends.

The Stadium Broadcast by Field Theory – Art Review

By Callum Devlin

Radio has the power to broaden your perception, making you instantly present and aware of the city around you. In high school, if I ever felt particularly repressed by the insurmountable months of work I had to complete before finishing seventh form, I would tune in to the local Universities student radio station. There, inexplicably existing, was a world outside of my high school. I came across Stadium Broadcast as it was happening, a live-feed to a city taking some time to mull over it’s past, and I was thrilled to be able to eavesdrop.

Five Australian performance artists are parked in a camper van on the field of a condemned sports stadium in Christchurch. They refer to each other by DJ codenames, and broadcast their conversations to the internet for 72 hours, non-stop. They play music between droll talk-back banter, songs written by musicians that had at one time had also performed on that sports field. They tell stories that are not their own, donated by the people of Christchurch, who have been invited to join them, opening Jade Stadium to the public for the first time in almost four years. The collective is appropriately called Field Theory, and they hope to broadcast every single story of the stadium that Christchurch is willing to offer.


Field Theory is: Jason Maling, Martyn Coutts, Sarah Rodigari, Willoh S. Weiland, Jess Olivieri, Lara Thoms, Jackson Castiglione and Rebecca Burdon.

Although none of the broadcasters were native to the city, the distance they had to the source material gave an honesty in their joy of discovery. They didn’t have to be sentimental, they could just be curious. Their approach to historical documentation was simply to collect “every story they could find about anything that happened to anyone,” with no aim to curate or edit any of the stories, it seemed. The stories that are collected lie between the sentimental and the banal. Some are of historical importance, others intimate memories. Filling up 72 hours worth of air time is a daunting task, however, questioning what was important to the history of the place and what wasn’t seemed adverse to the underlying sense of inclusivity present in every element of this project.

I think a lot about this project, and will continue to. Despite being an artwork ostensibly about the past, Stadium Broadcast was most assuredly live, contained to a weekend in November 2014.