Wellington Performance Arcade – Exhibition Review

By Mayke Blom

18-22nd February 2015

I walk around and through carefully placed sets of shipping containers, each one containing a performed installed artwork. There is a bar and a stage and seating welcoming the passers-by to socialize and pause a moment to peek around corners and engage with a fleeting experience. The 5 day show runs all day and into the hours of the evening until dark.

I feel curious and confronted with contrasting performances that ask me to engage on many different levels. There’s a studio set up like a stage, asking for requests of personal stories, a peep-hole to look at a star-wars psychologist where people open up about their feelings in a closed off room. Or stand in front of a photographer who decides to take your picture whilst she’s nude. Some of the less confronting works are passive observational pieces or are devoid of human interactions altogether. This includes work like time machine where you can zip back and forth to reflect on passers-by of the waterfront. Or Rainscape, a passage from one end of the container to the other, engaging with the textures, sounds, the density of the air and visual effects.

The flurry of diversity and the way it engages as an intervention of an everyday space encourages me to see it as an amusement park of art ‘objects’. Some of the works are out of containers and are moving through the city, really pushing for the manifestation of art to integrate into the spirit of ‘creative Wellington’. I feel like there is a drive for continued engagement as a yearly event, offering an opportunity for artists to reflect in art making of changing presentation landscapes.

I feel like when art tries to engage with a public audience the reactions are limited and the time spent with the works is reduced. The experience/intervention becomes a memory through the media, and identifies within the contained space of the urban and of the shipping container, confining the work dimensional limitations. However of course these limitations are innate unless of course you introduce the use of audiovisual installation, in which the performance arcade successfully integrates the variety of works this year.

I like how this event is transferable to other urban environments, with shipping containers being a globally accessible object. I feel like the independent works could function a bit more successfully on their own as they sometimes blend into one another, perhaps through practical application.

Having been involved as a volunteer in the set-up of the work, I think the Performance arcade has definitely developed since its first production 5 years ago. As an interventionist event it challenges new modes of presentations of performance art and culturally increases accessibility and awareness of performance art practice. As well as strictly performance works, the arcade travels across art disciplines to include AV set ups, installation and object art, interactive and combining media enhancing and questioning the context of installation and performativity space.

The arcade interprets an artwork as a performed space, an interactive experienced environment between a staged spatial or figurative composition. This environment would definitely help me better comprehend audience engagement and interactivity through use of limited space within my own work as a semi-interactive audiovisual installation.


The Artist’s Body – Publication Review

By Jordana Bragg

The Artist’s Body first published in 2000, reprinted in paperback 2006 and abridged, revised and updated 2012, is a comprehensive catalogue of canonical works of performance art, spanning an entire century (1900-2000).

The publication’s cover features a glossy full colour reproduction of Tracey Emin’s Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made, (1996) and opens up into a full colour two page spread of Yasumasa Morimura’s Portrait (Futago), (1988).

Provided within the introductory stages of the publication is an outline of it’s contents, with clear use of headings, sub headings and page numbers, outlining that which follows will be:

A Preface by curator Tracey Warr (page 10)

A Survey by curator Amelia Jones (page 16)

Works (listed in alphabetical order under each subheading)

Painting Bodies (page 49)

Gesturing Bodies (page 70)

Ritualistic and Transgressive Bodies (page 92)

Body Boundaries (page 114)

Performing Identity (page 134)

Absent Bodies (page 162)

Extended and Prosthetic Bodies (page 178)


Artist’s Biographies (page 190)

Bibliography (page 199)

Index (page 202)

Acknowledgements (page 204)

By way of introduction the Preface (by Tracey Warr) and Survey (by Amelia Jones) serve as two poignant introductory essay’s, with Tracey Warr discussing the wider implications of canonised performance pieces/art and Amelia Jones discussing such implications in direct relation to the publication.

The largest portion of the publication is afforded to the Works section, which is divided into subsections such as Body Boundaries, Performing Identity, Absent Bodies et cetera, with each subsection beginning with a brief introductory statement, offering a useful insight prior to engaging with the text available alongside images of each work.

The Appendices section offers brief artist biographies, a bibliography list, an index and acknowledgments of those included in the publication. The Appendices section, as it outlines clearly basic information of each artist/artwork was, (along with the cover image of Tracey Emin’s Exorcism of the Last Painting I Ever Made, (1996) the defining factor in my decision to purchase The Artist’s Body. I would recommend this publication to anyone with an interest in all those performance works that are constantly referenced and misquoted at art gallery openings, with a disclaimer that The Artist’s Body offers a useful, yet very specific, (potentially exclusionary) scope.

Work&Play: Confession Ritual – Exhibition Review

22 March 2014, Dowling Street Project Space

by Judith Yeh

It is significant how the long history of art has developed into this 21st Century movement called “contemporary art”. The spectrum of this significance covers a wide range of various expressions, sometimes the definition of what constitute as an art form becomes obscure. How does one define an exhibition? Does an exhibition only limit to inhabitation of physical objects? I question myself as I stand before a mad and emotional Korean man ritualistically scrawling toothpaste all over a mirror.

Throughout the series of Work&Play, which consist of fifteen performances over two weeks, and across four different locations; Confession Ritual is, without a doubt, the most intense and emotional one out of all. Although the title may have already suggested that this isn’t going to be some self-indulgent, paint splattering musical dance number, it has not prepared one to be so directly confronted with the artist’s immense agony and excruciation. Samin Son’s practice is largely formed by his experience in the two-year compulsory military service in South Korea. He draws upon the endurance and the meticulously directed aggression demanded by the mundane military life, as well as his struggles with identity and race politics. This piece, which sees him enter and circles the room while intoning some unrecognised phrase, is enchanting, displacing and confrontational. One moment he is tying select people together with one of those everlasting public toilet hand towels, forming a defined space to accentuate displacement and uniformity; then he is coming up to each individual, staring into their eyes and commanding them, shrinking the audience in size and individuality. While these actions already put members of the audience on edge, Son takes it to another level by repetitively and laboriously cleaning the mirror with toothpaste, scribbling with it and wiping it off again. The intensity leaves the audience stuck fast, petrified and fascinated.

An art form is the way of expressing one’s emotions. If comparing Son’s display of performance to that of a painting; his movements as the brushes and strokes, and the space as a blank canvas, what really is the difference between Son’s “exhibition” to an “expressionist exhibition” or perhaps an “abstract expressionist exhibition”? It is safe to say, that Son’s style of expressionism has most definitely become one of the most memorable exhibitions I have seen so far.
Video shown is part of Samin Son’s “Toothpaste Action #10”, at DEPOPULATE 01 presented by White Fungus.

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.


512 Hours – Performance Review

The Spirit in Any Condition Does Not Burn

Marina Abramović | 512 Hours | The Serpentine Gallery | 2014

By Jordana Bragg

From 11 June – 25 August 2014 performance artist Marina Abramović completed a durational performance piece provoking/relying upon audience engagement, titled: 512 Hours. The title of the work directly references the duration, as from 11 June – 25 August six days a week from 10:00am-6:00pm, Abramović and gallery assistants commandeered a gallery space within The Serpentine (located in Kensington Gardens, London). After waiting in line participants were asked to remove and place their personal belongs (in particular watches, cameras and cellphones) into lockers. Once inside Abramović and/or a gallery assistant silently facilitated participants into undertaking simple actions, which aimed to encourage a heightened sense of attentiveness to the present, including staring at a wall, slow walking and counting grains of rice.

Not unlike Abramović’s durational performance piece as part of her retrospective The Artist is Present at MOMA (NYC), March 14-May 21 2001, where for a total of 736 hours and thirty minutes over three months for the entire duration of the retrospective Abramović sat across from gallery visitors and made eye contact with them, 512 Hours has been defined largely as ‘immaterial’, ‘nonobject’, with a focus on audience engagement.

My introduction to 512 Hours came via an article published on http://www.telegraph.co.uk written by Richard Dorment, under the heading: ‘I hated every second but I can’t deny its power’. This initial information from the perspective of someone who had directly experienced the work was interesting, if nothing else, as Dorment proceeded to undermine his own intellegence and writing prowess by constantly referring to Abramović’s appearance and age as opposed to the work,

‘Only a person of her age, experience and appearance could have carried it off… In appearance Abramović’ looks like a cross between Clytemnestra and an Earth Mother. Her beauty is inseparable from a personality so powerful that she can silence a room just by entering it’, (Dorment, 2014).

Framing the power of Abramović’s performance work as directly referential to her physical attributes brings to mind a recent twitter campaign: #AskHerMore, which prompts reporters to reconsider their repetitious use of questions which devalue the accomplishments of women in the industry such as ‘who are you wearing’ and ‘how did you get in shape’.

After negotiating my way around similar articles I discovered Marina at Midnight, an online source of video’s uploaded each night to The Serpentine Gallery website, featuring Abramović speaking of the day she had just experienced as part of 512 hours. This resource allowed those who could not attend insight directly from Abramović’ and served to reiterate the artist’s endearment towards the audience.

Marina at Midnight: http://www.serpentinegalleries.org/exhibitions-events/marina-midnight-serpentine-diaries

Richard Dorment Review of 512 Hours: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-reviews/10895104/Marina-Abramovic-review-I-hated-every-second-but-I-cant-deny-its-power.html