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.



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.