On saturday night, i had the great fortune of being able to check out the last show of the performance Assembly, on as part of the melbourne arts festival.

a collaboration between victorian opera and chunky move dance company, i was intrigued by the outline in the festival program, and by the seemingly unlikely pairing.

the tickets were SUPER expensive, so my best friend (a dancer) and i almost didn’t go. until she overheard her dance teacher talking about how amazing it was. so we rifled through our possible discount options and, thanks to us both being RRR subscribers, got ourselves some cheap tix (still $60, mind).

after a bit of a kerfuffle with our seating, we settled in for what is probably going to be my favourite event of all year.

 i’m not kidding.

 it ticked so many boxes for me that within about 10 minutes of the performance, i had tears in my eyes from the beauty and ‘right’-ness of it. i know, so Ancient Greek of me, but whatever.

It was just stunning.

 I’m not so great at writing/talking about dance*, so please excuse the simplistic review, but it was fuckin’ ace.

The work was essentially about crowd movement. Gideon’s discription of it in the program outlined it well. He wrote of seeing choreographic a group as a single entity and how that translates into public gatherings. Each of the ‘movements’ within the piece addressed different types of crowd movement – the collective form, the beauty of patterned chaos, the swarm and how and individual can divide a crowd so quickly.

The dynamics between the performers was incredible and they must have just practiced and practiced and practiced. It was a perfect example of controlled mess.

Singers vs Dancers
As the program mentioned, it wasn’t an operatic piece that was ‘illustrated’ by dancers. It was truly a collaborative piece: the singers danced and the dancers sang. There were a small group of prinicpals from each side who led significant pieces, and supported by about 40 all-rounders.

Minimal set
The set was a brilliant double-sided, wooden staircase that added dynamic and cluey percussive elements to the dances. The movement thread up and over, up and across, down and over the stairs.
It added a percussive element to the otherwise accompanyless music, which I thought was pretty nice. And i almost wished for a little bit of tonal variation in the steps – not much, but just enough to click me.

The costume design was so amazing. The design disease in me just went bonkers. Everyone was dressed in a perfect blend of colour and tone – elements of neutrality and hue, with divisions possible along colour, tone and temperature too.
The scene about (which i pinched from the SMH review) was a fantastic haka-esque battle between warm and cool sides, with operatic, but tribal yelling and beautiful but warrior-like movement. 
Sound of the crowd
Obviously i found some areas specifically relevent to my work in it. The sound of a crowd all talking at once is amazing to listen to. I do it regularly in my listening projects, and it was a new, yet familiar experience to listen to it in a framed performance.
And I also enjoyed a section, early on in the piece, in which the whole crowd tilted their heads, as though collectively listening – to each other, or to the audience, or just to provide a welcome balance to the previous cacophony of rhetoric en masse.
 * which is why sarah is going to start a dance blog soon. when i get off her back about it 🙂
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existence shall cry, sis.

the painful thing about the residency i’m doing at collingwood housing estate is that it throws into question my purpose as an artist, in a way that none of the other recent residencies have.
i reckon i’ve had at least three grades of existential crisis in the last two weeks, the deepest last weekend, rescued by a fellow artist who reminded me that i actually don’t get a choice over the future and what it thinks of me and my art. all i can do is be as attendant to the workliness of the work as possible (paraphrasing heidegger in his origin of a work of art).
going to too many openings, or other people’s shows is too much for me when i’m in this state – i get caught up in my own sense of ridiculousness, so i have to pare it back.

having said that, i was able to check out two visual art shows and two sound art shows on the weekend and enjoyed myself immensely.
stephen palmer has a wonderful sense of putting shows together and the group show at light projects at the moment is a testament to that. the show focuses primarily on ‘simulacra’ and artists who replicate daily objects with such alacrity that we assume it is that item, lest we look closely, plus a light-hearted ‘huzzah!’ work by clare rae. in fact, her work was so unlike the others, that what it did state was ‘this IS real’. which i liked.
the other exhibition is at dear patti smith – a gallery after my own heart. their brand hock show, in loving memory of amnesia is amazing – sculptural and narrative and slightly unnerving choices of symbols. i would even say feminist. it’s well-crafted, well-lit and just exudes ‘we are here’.

after both those shows, i attended two separate sound art gigs: one curated by nic tammens at the NGV studio, as part of his interesting collaborative residency there. we stood amongst oh-so-placed objects – attempted simulacra but to my mind were a bit, well, contrived.

clearly i was sinking in my own cynicism and i was too up-to-my-eyeballs-in-my-own-garbage to really enjoy most of the music, although it was nice to see some peeps and nic’s band at the end was a great intense cello/violin/guitar distortion build and expressed my own mounting tension.

on saturday, after i had mostly dealt with my own internal combustion, i was able to really enjoy the embedded gig, presented by ben byrne and avantwhatever. all similarly toned bands (deep frenetic bass/low freq chaos
and a counterpoint of super-high pitch/frequency overlay), i enjoyed the different processes and instruments on display: upright bass, sub-bass actuators+40gal drums, jim denley‘s water-filled sax, trombone, accordion and alice hui-sheng cheng‘s vocal intensity.

the whole crew there were great and i felt really welcome at art beat – exactly the kind of art space that i believe melbourne needs a whole lot more of.

brand hock #2 (sorry, i chucked away the room sheet and can’t remember the title)
new music series 001

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cold and icy. yes.

being back in melbourne for 10 days, it was nice to see stuff again.

like, I had to miss exhibitions* because there were clashes, too many things on at the same time. and of course quite a bit of that time was spent putting together, performing and invigilating my own show.

i feel like i haven’t written about other people’s shows for ages, so here are a couple of shows i saw, with a strangely icy theme:

this is before that
kiron robinson and sanja pahoki at sarah scout

it felt like the first time I have seen more than one artist per show at SS and i liked it. there was a polarity and/or synthesis that was art of the show that hasn’t been before.

the simple concept of kiron’s used hours/wasted hours prints were OK: coloured block prints with scratch marks – like days of labour are tantamount to prison term or gallery visitor numbers.  they’re short, sharp and to the point.

however, the sentiment of the work was really not my thing –  I prefer to subscribe to the pollyanna view that ‘time wasted is never wasted time’. perhaps i’m losing my cynical edge. perhaps i’m just feeling quite grateful for being able to spend all my time on my art practice at the moment.

I did really like sanja’s icy photographs of frosty scando landscapes and cold, empty stares of portraits, mounted on the wall around cool, white neon text ‘i have loved’ ‘i have been loved’

this tableau, or scene, actually, was in balance and still edgy without wanting to fall over itself. tick.

my personal tip of the iceberg would have been a sculptural ice-based work in the gallery – even just for opening night. i imagined a big block of ice melting, or even stalactites dripping down the windows. this may have been influenced by the condensation on the windows of the gallery that night, but I couldn’t shake it.

kim jaeger at seventh

I may be biased because i think almost everything kim does rocks, but this little work was properly BEAUTIFUL. yes, i said beautiful.

nothing like that image above, it was a diorama created in a blacked and blanked out project space with a large-ish peep-hole at a low eye-level, to create a dramatic and mystical landscape. the landscape was filled with large, white, iceberg-like spikes, appearing to rise up out of a still, dark water. this ‘grotto’ was perfectly and cool-ly lit, with the scale of it just right. it was like being on a boat, making my way through the floes of scandanavia, or the dark arctic.

it was so succinct and so clear – it actually took my breath away. for real.

sadly, the show finished on sunday, so you can’t go and see it anymore. but hopefully there will be images online somewhere that will come closer to doing it justice than this little blog.

*like christopher hanrahan’s show at tristian koenig, the vienna show and those egon schiele’s at the NGV and the shaun gladwell extravaganza at ACMI.

image credits: sanja pahoki and kiron robinson from the sarah scout site 
kim jaeger you geysir crazy from the seventh site

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listening and being live

hey peeps,

here are some links to some live channels i’ve set up for the listening performance today (28th june).

it’s the first time i’ve done anything like this, so please forgive tech difficulties or straight-up operator errors that may occur.



Live streaming video by Ustream

but you can video call me


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happy 80th birthday nanna

Me and my Nanna

regular readers will know how rad i think my nanna is. mainly because she is rad: super spunky, independent, hilarious, hip young thang. well, not quite as young as i’d like: today she turns 80.


i can tell you that if i’m half as cool as she is when i’m 80, i’ll be well-chuffed.

she still travels regularly, loves all her family, has the best laugh in the world, loves beautiful things, is interested in technology, doesn’t suffer fools lightly, is generous, crazily forgiving of my terrible habit of swearing and still really enthusiastic about discovering all there is to offer

i’m super sad that i’m not in melbourne to give her the massive hug she deserves today. but perhaps it’s for the best – i might have squeezed all the breath out of her! 🙂

happy birthday nanna. you rock.

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hangin’ out crafty in the back alleys of melbourne

ariadne's tangled mess: craft vic

for those of you who are in melbourne; and for those of you who perhaps walk down flinders st, perhaps you’ve seen a little mess hanging off the edge of a building on spark lane. a little discarded knot of cable, or thread? some kind of undealt with complexity left to swing in a dark alley?

well, if you haven’t, my work is installed at craft victoria, as an extension of the work in craft cubed, so check it out if you have the chance.

also, there’s a closing party for the craft-based festival next week: september 4th.

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