This piece was written for a zine publication that accompanied Desire Lines 2 in November 2017.
Entangling relevance and expanding variables
A variable: the dog
Mia Middleton, a performance artist, came into an unexpected encounter with a dog in Marrickville Park on Sunday 20th November, 2016. The dog had its hackles up, its stance defensive towards this white-suited and masked outsider. Her performance piece White Ghost was for Desire Lines 2.
A dog having its hackles up is generally considered an expression of aggression on the part of the dog; perhaps it can also indicate alarm or fearful confusion. Whatever the exact reasons are for a dog to take this stance, it is an opposing position, one adopted to assert the dog’s own power and strength toward a potential foe.
Variables in our environment are, at any one time, multiple and beyond our control; despite this we constantly attempt to take back some of this control. The gallery space is a tightly controlled environment which aims to minimise variables completely, from the white walls, to the controlled temperature and lighting of the space. All this control allows for subtleties to become more pronounced, our reading of meaning to be foregrounded and for the work to fall into an established tradition. When you diverge from this controlled space and place art back into the world at large, variables increase, how meaning is generated alters and things become more unpredictable.
Relevance: stuff everywhere
There is literally so much stuff in this place; it must have been a sharehouse forever. How many different people have left their shit here when they move out, go overseas? So many items bought at op-shops, particularly musical instruments, of which there are various kinds throughout the house. There is plenty of mold on the ceilings in a number of rooms, we are all glancing at each other and around the rooms while some people are drinking beer.
Things echo with relevance
Sam Gill continues to play the saxophone
The protocol of the gallery space, along with curated shows, can tell us what to think. The aim being to cut through some of the inflation and bloating of meaning and relevance that sits in our heads and surrounds objects, actions and everything else in the world. Encountering art in the world, in our everyday lives, involves an untethering and expansion of meaning and interpretation in contrast to the gallery space which lends itself to a process of reduction and distillation.
r(d)eference to the optimistic possibilities of Hakim Bey’s The Temporary Autonomous Zone
The football field and scale
We all take seats on the bleachers, we are handed popcorn and we know that the show is about to begin.
Two men kick a soccer ball back and forth between them while they engage in a conversation that comes through the loudspeakers for everyone at the oval to hear. Nick Keys and another person are running around, they are out of breath and competing with all the other sounds – the wind, the kids and the planes – to be heard.
Scale, in a formal sense, relates to the size of a work of art in relation to the size of the viewer, a relationship between the work and the human body. On a football field, or in a park, scale would be a comparison of the artwork to the size of the viewer’s body in comparison to the size of the built and natural environment they are in and all the other objects, people etc. in that environment. It can also be considered as relational size and weight (both physical weight and weight of influence or importance). A relationship between the performers and the focus placed on them, in comparison to what is going on around them, and the competition for focus which they are involved in (the attention grabbing potential or spectacle created by the work).
Context, obviously context
Everyday entanglements transgress an increasingly amorphous horizon