regimes of hardship

[ok, way overdue post about this….]

on a thursday evening earlier this month, i dragged my friend and fellow sound/listening/thinker/arty-type, huw, to ]performance space[ to see the third installment in a residency by martin o’brien, called regimes of hardship.

open as part of east london’s first thursdays, this final performance was a 12-hour durational work in collaboration with sheree rose.

there was a signed and fingerprinted (in blood) agreement between martin and sheree, stating that for the 12 hours, martin would hand his body over to her, for her to do anything she wants with it.

we arrived and martin had a badly-shaven head (presumably before we got there), and was being painted green with bruce nauman connotations. he was a lowly worm.

we left to eat, but returned and sheree had a costume change herself, with a little more satin and tuille – more french maid than doctor frankenstein.

she attached a leather ball stretcher, chains, fishing weights and jewels (it almost reminded me of a strange guy benfield piece). she stretched him from post to post – in crucifix formation, having wiped the green off his body somehow. there were references to ketchup, so i’m not sure what happened whilst we were out.

then sheree got a scalpel out and cut her initial into martin’s chest that sort of looked a bit like an ‘S’, a bit like the lightning bolt between AC and DC and a bit like half of the SS (Schutzstaffel) logo.

after being released she made martin kiss her feet and he was to become a table for the audience to eat trifle off of. i didn’t feel like doing that (which actually might have more to do with trifle than the act of degredation).

noticed sheree’s tenderness as part of the pain infliction process. the care that heightens the torture. giving and taking. and when i spoke to her after the symposium (see below), she said that tenderness and care is a crucial element to the performance of pain.

there seemed to be a level of reservation, which may have been the gallery context, exhaustion, it may  a subconscious reticence to be intimate or a reluctance to truly take the power given to her. or just my perception. apparently the work a few days later was far more unrestrained and the tension between master and slave had returned.

martin’s residency culminated in a symposium on the following saturday.

this was a clincher and put the work in context for me. i have an interest in performance art, but i clearly am not a student in it, because i learned a lot that day.

featuring amazing names like: ron athey, sarah wilson, dani ploeger, lois keidan, franko b, sheree rose, rita marcalo and michael mayhew, i was suckered in straight away.

sadly i missed an intense peformance with sheree rose and martin o’brien again – apparently it was amazing.

i walked in on a bit of a marina abramovic haters club – a slight diversion based on a side remark that got blown out of proportion, but was redeemed during the lunch break – a chance to meet some other performers and researchers from across the UK.

the symposium was really well run and, for a bunch of people interested in putting their body through quite anti-social levels of distress, everyone was mostly well-behaved. there was a bit of heated debate, usually instigated by Franko B, but it made for an interesting and dynamic afternoon discussing a variety of topics, such as the audience complicity, bloody, rights to ones body, corporeal knowledge, sex, illness and the relationship between artist and medical research.

and i got called a colonialist, which was an interesting turn of events. huzzah!
thankfully, it has become impetus for a new, difficult work, so it’s all ok. for now.

the interesting final session was actually the highlight of the day: three ‘conversations’ between artists and their medics and discussion on ethics, complicity and responsility of artists and the medical field:

martin o’brien and karen lowton spoke about their ongoing research collaboration related to cystic fibrosis and its treatment. obviously the medical research into the disease influences martin’s physical wellbeing, but his intense performance and masochistic works give the medical profession other ways to perceive the way a patient can ‘take control’ of chronic illness and the influence duration, pain and identity have on it.

michael mayhew and tuheen huda discussed how they came to work together and the importance of their working relationship over the years. michael spends a lot of time taking blood from his body, tuheen is a medic but with an interest (and qualifications) in art. during their discussion, tuheen took 6 vials of blood from michael that michael gave to people connected with the symposium, whilst they talked about the intimacy of doing that, but also how normal it is for both of them to both do what they do (tuheen take blood and michael to give it), but how shocking it still is for many of them.  i got a lot out of hearing michael’s story of his desire to pay tribute to charles drew for black history month and the  difficulty in doing so.

rita mercala and georgia testa spoke about their collaborative research into the ethics of working with illness in art. initially introduced during rita’s work in which she attempted to initiate her epilepsy in an installation/ performance context, the main project that they have been discussing is rita’s desire to create a pill that would do the same.

this one generated a lot of fantastic discussion afterwards about the right to harm oneself (operation spanner was a case i learned about), whose responsibility is it if we ask people to help us make work that will harm us and what are the other implications about the right to ones own pain.


as usual, the discussions afterwards were also great and i’m considering now doing the performance space summer residency and another live art development agency DIY workshop.

even though it took me forever to write about, this little symposium that i accidentally stumbled upon, it has given me a stack of food for thought for upcoming works and i’m looking forward to being able to focus on them.

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interesting south 2008

some of you may remember me talking about interesting in london last year. some may even remember me going on about interesting south in sydney last year. well, this year, it’s on again. This weekend monday at the Belvoir St Theatre. Yes, interesting south – the conference of interestingness, south.

There are a great list of speakers, it should be an amazing night to hear people speaking broadly from the areas of science and the arts. i’m personally looking forward to hearing about zenzizenzizenzic, which is something to do with the constant and non-constant of change, and michael lister discussing the finer points of bus route design (how mad is that gonna be!).

If you’re into it, go to the interesting website, check out what’s happening and come along. it’s way cheap! cheaper than AG Ideas, that’s for sure. I’ll be there, blogging, twittering and sketching away. i’m looking forward to meeting some new peeps and catching up with old friends too.

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interesting south: help needed

“may you live in interesting times”, as the english bastardisation of the chinese proverb goes.

next weekend i’m off to sydney to help decorate the Belvoir St Theatre for Interesting South 2008. There are some fabulous speakers, it’s always a great night and i’m looking forward to tarting the place up.

remember last year, we all hung out in the loungeroom? With cups of tea? Well, this year, we’re chillin’ outdoors and I need some help from people in Sydney who are coming to the conference: If you have a garden gnome, pot plants (the bigger the better), a hose/watering can or deck chairs that you are willing to lend us for the night, could you bring them along?

Let me know in the comments section if you’re able to help out.

At any rate, I’ll see you there.

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interesting south vids are up

I don’t actually want to tell you all about this: I hate seeing myself on film (especially after a shot of the heathrow injection), don’t necessarily feel proud of my presentation (although I’m proud of the set) and it’s altogether quite embarassing.

Hell, I haven’t even watched it….

But I promised.

And I like to think that if I promise people that i’ll do something, then I’ll do it.

So, here’s the link.

Please check out the others’ presenations on the interesting south website too – they’re absolutely brilliant!

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

feel free to browse

Following on from Interesting South, I’ve decided to go to more stuff like it more often:

pecha kucha flick thanks to paisdelasmaravillas from flickr

Pecha Kucha
Started by a couple of architects, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, it began as a place to network and also to check out their eventspace. It has since gone on to be a global thang, a place to hear interesting people talk about interesting things.

I almost got to one at the ICA when i was in London, but missed the last one. Bugger. But, filed it under EXCITEMENT PLUS, the last Pecha Kucha Melbourne for the year is on Tuesday night! Yay!

At the Blue Diamond Bar on Queen St from 6-ish, I’m looking forward to checking out a variety of creative/brainy type presenations. 20 slides, then get the fuck off the stage. Love it.

coffee morning flick thanks to russell davies from flickr

Coffee Morning Melbourne

Regular readers will know that when in London, I did as Londoners do and went to Coffee Morning at the Breakfast Club in Soho. I met some amazing people there, including many who I call dear friends now. There are a few Coffee Mornings around the world. Sydney has one, Melbourne tried it a while ago and so I’ve decided to try and resurrect it. Mainly for the selfish reason of wanting good coffee and conversation.

The only thing is, I don’t really know what works for the Melbourne bloggery types out there, so I’m putting forth a bit of an option type thing and if people can put their suggestions in the comments section, that would be ace. [I should probably put up a spiffy poll, but I honestly couldn’t be fucked]. And if you know others who might be into it, get them to tell me too.

Now, I’ve stuck to the CBD, in the interest of being central and I’m sticking to Friday, in the interest of continuity (not to mention it being a lazy-ish kind of day and perfect to have coffee on).

Option 1
Journal Cafe on Flinders Lane

Option 2
Section 8 Container Bar/Cafe in Tattersalls Lane

Option 3
Nick’s on Queen St


Option A
Friday, 8am

Option B
Friday, 9:30am

Option C
Friday, 11am


*Sorry to those for whom that was an interminable bore. Now, back on topic.

dorkbot tee flick thanks to chesh from flickr


I saw Pia, fabulous Dorkbot Overlord speak at Interesting and have decided to go to one of the Melbourne Dork-bot meetings. Now, the last one for the year was last Sunday (while I was wandering lost around Wollongong, great.) but I thought I should just give it a bit of a shout-out anyway. Go to the Melbourne Dork-bot wiki for more info.

* It also reminded me of the fantastic Chris Northcote’s Forkbot, reconstructed EggsBaconChipsBeans at Interesting in London.

And what’s the point of all that garbage for? Well, the thing is, it’s the Real Life 2.0 version of a browsing, or going through your blog reader. Hearing about a range of stuff from strangers is fantastic for expanding your experience of stuff: great for empathy, brilliant for jiggling an idea around and, dare I say it, good for the soul. I like the way I feel when I hear new stuff and I feel like a more informed member of the human race. Surely that’s a good thing, right?

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Interesting Times [Part I]

On Thursday I spent the day/evening at Interesting South. For more info about exactly what that is, go here. Or here. And to find out more about where it came from, go here.

During the day, I joined the wonderful Emily and her band of troupers to help transform the Bondi Pavillion Theatre into a cosy home away from home for those attending the conference. I was hoping that the set would invoke the sense of watching people chat in their own home. Kind of like a super-sized dinner party. With microphones and powerpoint. It seemed to work well and it did feel nice and homely. I even made tea for all the speakers and that turned out to be really fun and a nice extra element to the whole occasion.

I only got to hear bits and pieces of most of the talks because I was fixing tea (and definitely didn’t have time to draw like I did in London, but I still heard some amazing things and met some really lovely people at the conference afterwards.

Here’s a hodge-podge snapshot of what I got:

Dan Hill and his spectacular system for keeping check on energy output:
“I’m not suggesting we all have huge numbers above our buildings, keeping score. Actually that is what I’m suggesting”

Matt Moore’s poetic guide for making a zombie.

Errol Flanagan‘s fantastic presentation on perception and understanding
“What’s green, sir?”

Dr Adrienne Withall’s great study of Happiness parts I and II, including the fact that 50% of one’s happiness is genetic (oh shit) but that 40% is outlook (woo hoo!).

I loved the Happiness Manifesto and the Make Slough Happy campaign, of which I only remember a couple of points:

•Be grateful for at least 3 things a day
•Smile at a stranger
•Reduce your television contact
•Talk to a good friend for at least an hour a week;

Pia, the Sydney Dork-bot Overlord (how cool is that title!) reminded me that I need to go a Dork-Bot meeting in Melbourne, and see people “doing strange things with electricity”;

Adrienne and Pia sipping tea

The 3 Tims:

Tim Baynes, the scientist from an unnamed scientific organisation, who talked about sustainability in terms of the exponential growth, which was scary and exciting at the same time;

Tim Noonan, who is a fantastic performer and who can read people’s voices as a way of knowing more about them (vocal, instead of body language);

and Tim Longhurst, who was responsible for the fantastic Zero Coke Movement which hit big time earlier this year.

Juan’s Free Hugs/Free Homes campaign;

The evening went so quickly and like someone on the night said, it didn’t feel like 17 speakers, more like about 9. And the conversations in the club afterwards were similarly fantastic, including how much to reveal when blogging, what others would speak about and whether SARS was worth getting excited about.

Congrats to Emily and the Sydney Coffee Morning* crew for a fab time and keep an eye out for Interesting South 2008

Big thanks to Piers and Richard for these pics on the flickr.

*[watch this space Melbourne bloggy kids, I think I’m going to start a Coffee Morning]

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