time vs money

i haven’t been so exhausted working in ages. but it’s been a fun week.

i’m working on this still-kind-secret project at cia in perth involving people and space and measurement.

yesterday we (my partner in crime, steve, and i presented to the board  a bit of our methodology, some of our early findings and threw out a few questions/points of discussion about our project. which is kind of hard to describe to you guys, because it’s a) still confidential and b) we’re yet to properly describe it to ourselves.

but we’re close.

what i can say, though, is that money is easier to achieve than time, and we’re more motivated to make people go away, than we are to make them come here.

and we found that through a program of depth testing and intense focus and insight developments, complex social engagement protocols.

otherwise known as tug of war.

[pretend there’s an awesome picture of the teams holding a rope here]

it was brilliant. danger zone from the top gun soundtrack played in the background, primal grunts and angry reserves of energy were drawn on.
michael, tony and kelly – the money team pulled time (steve, kate and bonnie) over the line,

in the second round: come here vs go away, it was a tough match. everyone learnt from the first round’s experience, they dug heels in, yelled, encouraged each other, grit teeth and the swearing came out. at the end of it all, there was more prepulsion for go away and just not quite enough energy for come here.

we all learned something that day.

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innere stimme

Innere Stimme_0010web
on monday night i went to the last few hours of a beautiful, simple and powerful performance at veneklasen/werner gallery near checkpoint charlie. directed by olaf nicolai, it was part of an ongoing project series devised between the gallery and soundfair
within robert schurrman’s opus 20, there is a line of compositional notation between the treble and the bass lines, entitled innere stimme. the pianist, with both hands occupied, cannot play the piece, but it is intended to be an internal, underlying and (silent) aspect of the work itself. nicolai’s work was a 30 hour endurance ongoing performance of this piece in which four performers interpreted the ‘secret track’ across the three large gallery rooms. 
the work was the kind of work that makes me cry: it was so engaging, so powerful in its execution – the acoustics in the gallery were fucking divine, and could be enjoyed at a variety of levels: from pure entertainment to deep spiritual connections as the harmony and dischord of the performers often connected to hymns and historical or religious music. there was a period where the male performer resembled something from a guido reni work of st. sebastian – except our performer, sartorially speaking, classic hipster/barley replete with arse hanging out the back of skinny jeans. it was perfect.
Innere Stimme_0012web
perceived personalities – given that i stayed for a while and perhaps it’s the habit of audience (especially in a performative context), i found myself ascribing personalities to each of the singers. based on their dynamics, their interaction with the space, their movements, body language and their dress: The Opera Singer, The Hipster Grandad (his voice at time reminded me of my Grandad, who has a beautiful bass voice and who i remember singing whilst shaving), Billie Holiday and The Playful One.
dynamics –  given that there were four performers and only three rooms, there was an inevitable interaction between the peformers. i’m not sure how it had been for the previous 27 hours, but it was fascinating to watch. some just didn’t and couldn’t interact with each other (anymore), either their musical styles were two different, their personalities clashed or both. it was interesting to watch one performer enter a room and see the other either match or reduce their ‘output’. you could read a stack of power-based dynamics into the experience. volume and resonance became tools for domination, as did dischordance, repetition and something i’m calling amusicality. i made that word up, but i’ll explain it in a bit.
acoustics – interaction with the space: each of the performers used the track and their vocals to interact with the space in different ways. each had quite different vocal styles, so their interaction with acoustics was quite different. the more operatic singers (The Opera Singer and The Hipster) played with resonance, a lot. Billie Holiday didn’t really interact with the space itself at all, maintaining a ‘performer’ stance the whole time – constructed poses, chanteuse facial expressions and the kind of style expected on a stage, in front of a mike. If i’m perfectly honest, she gave me the shits. I can’t explain why. The Playful One probably gave everyone else the shits but i enjoyed watching her the most – she used a huge variety of vocal/sound to really investigate both space and the work. There were times where she literally sang the piece into and across a  corner to see what the space sounded like. She sang to the floor, sang like a spanish housewife, sang like a child, sang at the top, middle and back of her voice – she whispered and made completely amusical sounds (that’s what i meant earlier). She really played with as many variables as possible. Maybe out of boredom, but i found it fascinating. And enjoyable – she kind of fucked with the rest of the more-serious voices going on, whilst still being able to sing harmoniously if it was called for.
Innere Stimme_0013web
i had intended to go in for an hour and ended up staying for almost three times that, because the work was so rich, especially for me, with my specific focus on sound/public/private/spatial thang, it was a valhalla. in fact, it’s the kind of work that i wish that i made myself and i realised i have a long way to go before then.
I have one criticism of the work, which is actually its ending. in her biography, marina abramovic speaks about controlling the end of the peformance – either clearing the gallery before she brakes the illusion, or making the ending a specific part of the peformance. either way, it being considered. i tried it last week, to the best i could, and i found it worked. the nicolai piece didn’t end. in all the promotion, the work was intended to finish at midnight and we all waited for either the gallery staff to signal the end, or the performers, or the artist – something. but, it just petered out, some of the performers stopping, others going on for ages afterwards. no closure; no opportunity for the audience to give a round of applause or celebrate the work. i think these things are important. and after all that, i left feeling a sense of unfinished. maybe i’m too critical.
this aside, the work was stunning, and has stayed with me for an age. i imagine that it will for a while longer.
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bon voyage

Long way

tomorrow, my friend marcus brown is starting his latest (very intense) project: an 800km walk from munich to hamburg. technically he’s doing it to meet a very important man, from whom he’d like a job. but i know that the real outcomes will be a whole stack of other interesting things.

in the spirit of marina abramovic and francis alÿs, the work/walk will also end up being about longevity, pain, distance, the condensing of space, interaction, isolation, travel and labour.

well, that’s what i think anyway.

it’s a fucking long way. and the journey will be incredibly painful for marcus – i wish him all the best.

image credit: marcus brown from flickr
francis alÿs, the green line – the guardian

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gesture and procedures

there is an amazing exhibition on at ACCA at the moment. i haven’t had a lot of time to devote to checkin’ out exhibitions at the moment, but this one is right up my alley.

the new macpherson commission is bianca hester‘s massive work Please leave these windows open overnight to enable the fans to draw in cool air during the early hours of the morning – it is a whole-gallery installation on action, movement and tension. from the school of fischli & weiss, it’s an opus of balance, possible action, phenomenology and spatial composition.

(that’s her above). bummed i missed out on seeing the horse!

the other show is a group exhibition of artists who work across concept/performance and action – gestures and procedures is great title for it, actually. a whole swag of my personal favs are in the show: marina abramovic, mike parr, francis alys, vito acconci, john baldassari, anastasia klose, beth arnold, tony schwensen and bruce nauman.

it was the kind of show i had seen on my european trips, so a perfect send-off for my impending departure.

i had actually seen a fair few of the works, which is reassuring and comforting sometimes. and they were all good and obvious inclusions. except, perhaps, daniel von sturmer’s works – i would say that von sturmer concerns himself more with traditional, material and construction considerations, rather than process/gesture. but that’s just me being a tad pedantic. and nothing to take away from how good mr von sturmer is as an artist.

i love mike parr‘s early body work – 100 breaths, and the ulay/abramovic aaa-aaa was great to see IRL. as was the abramovic art must be beautiful/artist must be beautiful. i’m reading her biography at the moment and these works are even more powerful within a context of an intense life story.

even though i have to store them in my best friend’s garage for the next 6 months, i grabbed a couple of beth arnold‘s discarded object project posters, one of the objects – an old granny cart – was from carlton north, near my old haunt. i couldn’t help but get a bit sentimental about that one. heh.

i actually really loved the video work by delphine reist of an empty fluoro-lit room in which the fluoro globes would ‘randomly’ fall down and smash on the floor – the noise was amazing and the heist of it was pretty damned delicious too. i’ll be chasing up more work of hers, that’s for sure.

i didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the show, but still a great, great exhibition of works that are about the particular type of art i like – where art is a verb and space is an indirect object.

image credits: acca website, the age and eternalnetwork.fr

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craft cubed and whitebox

AriadnesTangledMess

if you had’ve told me 3 years ago that i would continue to create work that actively includes craft practices in spatial and media arts practice, i would probably have vomited on you. or at least told you that you had the wrong lauren brown.

but, it’s true. my short time spent at craft victoria influenced me profoundly and i find myself creating works that relate to fashion, thread, wearability, patterns, measurement and insertion.

craft victoria have reinvented their winter festival program from a single textile-based festival, to one that encompasses a range of craft/making practice and aims to remind everyone that there’s more to craft than bloody knitting scarves.

one of the interesting projects is called whitebox – a selection of video works that interact with the ideas, materials or gestures of craft practices. this year they also relate to the festival theme of childhood. and i’m privileged to have a video work in there: ariadne’s tangled mess.

it also includes some spanky works by some of my fave peeps: dell stewart, cory archangel and holly mcnaught.

the festival opens tonight at craft victoria and there are a stack of exhibitions, commissioned works, satellite events and online programs to participate in. check out the site for all the deets.

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leigh bowery

my friend and performance artist (in a printer’s body) marcus brown, mentioned leigh bowery a while ago and it has taken a while to sink in.

today i happened upon a book of his fashion shoots with fergus greer and i have been instantly obsessed.

i’m craving a bit of OTT identity/gender-bending mischief in the fashion/performance style of things at the moment. there’s a whole lot of stuff that just feels kinda vanilla. maybe i’m just jaded and restless. maybe i’m too gen x slacker for my own good.

as fabulous as her costumes are, lady gaga just doesn’t really cut it for me – she’s still doin’ the ditsy diva with the pretty clothes business; american apparel and vice mag for the kids tried to pretend they were pushing boundaries but really, they were just perpetuating the same old skinny lolita pervert bullshit for the white middle class douchebags of the future. our own schapylle scragg is a breath of fresh air, but she doesn’t get as much playtime as she used to (ahem. mayhem).

anyway, enough of my ranty business, i’m gonna go back and buy the book i spent an hour poring over and i’m looking forward to reading more about the sunshine kid, watching the legend of leigh bowery and making up for my terrible ignorance to date.

images: leigh bowery from from the inside out and fergusgreer.com

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