It’s just an opinion not a criticism dude

Posted on November 12, 2010 by


Throughout Liveworks LALA have asked artists to comment on the works they see.  The writing  may take on any form,and is not necessarily critical or a review. This is our attempt to capture the conversations in bars and foyers after the shows and put them out there for discussion amongst our broader community. Here we go!

Nighttime spotlight Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space

Sunday 14th November 8pm

Opinion Writer: Megan Garrett-Jones

(be an audience participant for WRONGSOLO Brian Fuata and Agatha Goeth Snape)
Have you ever wondered what it is like to guide someone who is walking backwards in to the dark unknown with only your heart and your eyes?  They leave you in a spotlight and gradually melt into that very dark unknown. You wonder what to do with your eyes now that all you can see is the white light you are standing in and beyond that the very same dark unknown. You hope your heart is making up for your eyes’ inefficacy, but then, what did you hope your eyes would achieve by seeing your charge? You renew your eyes’ effort and try to gaze purposefully in to the dark unknown, someone after all has trusted you, and you trusted them. Ought you have trusted them?

(confront whether you have truly had a truly amazing year with Sarah Rodigari)
Have you had an amazing year? Perhaps this question should be approached by us via consideration of the title of Rodigari’s piece Perception is a reality filtered through the prism of your soul. Head inside a dada-esque prism, Rodigari tosses us arbitrary questions. Are you promiscuous, a homosexual, an artist? Do you often feel guilty? But this type of psychoanalysis is of less consequence than Rodigari’s self-affirmation. Well, this response is not criticism, it is the discussion we might have in the foyer/ pub. And since I have Camus’ The Fall in my bag permit me, dear friends, to read a passage. Yes please talk amongst yourselves. Now quiet I have found the page. I was wrong, after all, to tell you that the essential thing was to avoid judgement. The essential thing is to permit oneself everything […]. I permit myself everything all over again, and without the laughter this time. I haven’t changed my way of life; I continue to love myself and make use of others. The question is perhaps to love or loathe oneself. Camus asserts; the whole world is guilty, you cannot change your life for another.

(get vicariously dizzy through Brooke Stamp’s Orbit Score for Yoko)
Have you ever sympathised with the dancing girl in those jewellery boxes, condemned to twirl endlessly at a whim, always to the same tune? Or revelled in the power you have over her. You are bored with the music and the dance, but your anthropomorphism gets carried away and you imagine her fatigued, and dizzy, yet resolute in her lot as you make her keep twirling. I am tempted to do some research to find out what the haunting tune repeated in Stamp’s work was (but that might defeat the purpose of these informal responses). It sounded like a folk song, a naïve and childish voice singing about village life. Stamp twirls resolutely, time marked by the evolution of the movement of her arms and head. Finally she stops, and attempts gallantly to quell involuntary wobbles to stand still until her spotlight disappears.

Megan Garrett-Jones is an artist who writes stuff and blogs at

This Is It by Team Mess

Next performance, Saturday 8pm, Track 8

Opinion Writer: Teik-Kim Pok

If we can pinpoint a particular linguistic fad that today’s genre mash-up infected social media scribe tribes have helped revive, it is the prosaic custom of portmanteau journalism. I can blame Team Mess’ This Is It at Performance Space’s 2010 Liveworks Festival for encouraging me to gratuitously wield one of those:

Banal-ysis. facile or trite analysis that provides no insight (Wiktionary)

We are ushered into a set evoking a press conference for what appears to be the latest cinematic blockbuster, as we are quickly treated to an endless loop of movie trailers, featuring Team Mess players, Malcolm Whittaker, Natalie K Randall, and Frank P Mainoo, all while waiting the audience to settle in. Broadcast on two large plasma screens, the four trailers show off polished cinematography employed by a noticeably absent Dara Gill, a light parodic study into the art of the film trailer- the aim of which is create repeat business through carefully constructed visual and emotional ellipses.

As the trailers trail off, and the screens switch to a live feed, Version 1.0’s Stephen Klinder, steps in as conference moderator, inviting the three prinicipal ‘stars’ onstage to take their poses in this Comicon-esque event, where the ‘devoted paying crowd’ is meant to shed gallons of geek-drool over the subject matter tackled by this supposed new force of genre storytelling. Before we get to hear from the ‘stars’ themselves, we are initially treated to an extended sequence of posturing for the flashing camera where the paparazzi-friendly postures unpick themselves in a cyclical ritual of subtle, and undeserving but compelling self-congratulation. The trio manage to convey the artifice of celebrity ‘ease’ and automation of ‘superstar charm’ in this rhythmic sequence.

During the third act, the actual press conference is peppered with audience questions at the tail end to which the performers sans director (a fact of mild significance which half-heartedly assuming a running joke status) improvise banal-ytical descriptions of their imagined film work and process. At first, this comes across as a stealthy critique of film scholarship’s tendency to be lost in popularisation and co-opted into commercial marketing practices. This strategy of co-opting works for a section of the audience, who are egged on to act as enthusiastic amateur journalists (author included), each armed with ‘The Question’ to provoke ‘The Answer’, after the scripted series of questions aided by Klinder.  The impression that I am left with is of a heavily signalled premise that my 5 year old nephews and nieces would feel quite comfortable in by wielding deep-fried chicken drumsticks instead of professional wireless microphones to live out their celebrity fantasies.

While I applaud the effort of the early and raw attempt that Team Mess makes to confront society’s obsession with glorified minutiae, I do wonder, as I am writing this response, if I have willingly landed into this tug-of-war between panto-mimical commentary and weighty cultural analysis, hoping in vain for an extended cathartic reward from the performers’ obvious composure but underused skill and almost-determined line of conceptual interrogation.

By responding in this disorient-ed/ing posture as a knowing audience member myself, can we afford not to assign any transformative value to the rituals that entertainment, spectacle and celebrity generate for their own sake?

The Last Remaining Relative by Jiva Parthipan

Next performance,   Sat 14th,  5pm Bay 20

Opinion Writer: Jennifer Hamilton

I’m interested in the form of performance known as “Performance Lecture”.

I haven’t done any reading about it, so I don’t know how widely used this style
is. But, I have an academic background so have been to a lot of lectures and
seminars. I have a theatre/performance background and I’ve been to lots of plays
and performances. A particularly good example of this form is The Bougainville
Photoplay Project currently playing at Belvoir St.

To make a kind of trite comparison, it strikes me that a lecture is the educational
equivalent of traditional proscenium arch theatre. Where as a seminar/roundtable
discussion is more akin to contemporary performance. There is a set of reasons why I
think this, all of which are massive generalisations rather than universal truths.

• Lecture/Theatre usually clear divide between audience and performer/
students and teacher.
• Many spaces in schools and universities require the furniture to be
rearranged for a seminar in order to reshape the dynamics of the space,
change its architecturally intended use.
• Often performance is designed specifically to reuse space in a different
way, to change the dynamics of a space or to redefine functionality.
• Lecture Hall/Theatre are purpose-built for education/dissemination of
information and entertainment, respectively.
• Lecture/Theatre have a text that is designed to be performed in a
theatre space/lecture hall and can be performed/read by others if proper
permissions are given by the author.
• Seminars are often guided by a leader but are open discussion between
all participants, are largely driven by the participants and cannot be
• The performers generally devise the performance themselves, and rarely
written/transcribed for other performers to replicate.

• Both the theatre and lecture hall have a certain state sanctioned authority.
The authority is given rather than earned, and the authority is recognised
by a general population.
• A Seminar or roundtable distributes the authority amongst all the
participants; the facilitator might retain some authority over the
participants, but this is not as pronounced as in a lecture.
• Performance plays with relations between performer/audience/space,
while the performer tends to retain authority, such authority is usually in

Performance Lecture is, therefore, an interesting crossing of formal principles.

What I liked about Jiva’s work was that the content itself played with this formal

crossing. The performance was about a specific bureaucratic entanglement between
the law/politics/authority and body/self/identity. There was a nice affinity between
form and content. The work was about travel and getting visas, in particular “The
Last Remaining Relative” visa. He was wearing a suit, had lecture notes, a desk and
a whiteboard. And was telling a story about the way in which his travels for both
professional art practice and pleasure were thwarted by state authority and border
politics. He also involved alcohol in the piece (National Alcohols that matched the
countries he had trouble accessing – like Whiskey/Ireland and Tequila/Mexico,
Bundy&Coke/Australia), and wanted to share it with the audience, but drew our
attention to the bureaucratic/OH&S issues with regards to sharing alcohol with an
audience within the space. I’m really interested in the politics of this form, and I think
Jiva’s work is a really excellent example of how to best exploit a form in service of a
story. I also got a free nip of Whisky and Tequila.

The Comfort Zone: A Performance Lecture by Karen Therese

Next performance: Sat 13th, 9pm Bay 20

Opinion Writer: Jennifer Hamilton

By the time I attended The Comfort Zone everything I had been to had some degree
of audience participation. I guess in something called ‘The Comfort Zone’ one would
only expect that at least some of the audience would be dragged out of their comfort
zones. The Comfort Zone is a lecture that plays with textbook definitions of comfort.
What makes us comfortable and what makes us uncomfortable.


The conclusion of this piece the entire front row is asked to stand and participate in a
dance to Beyonce’s Halo. I was sitting in the front row.

When I was 3 or 4, in what is probably my earliest actual memory (i.e. an event that
doesn’t have a photograph to remind me about it), I went to a pantomime version of
Little Red Riding Hood. I was selected to come up on stage and meet Red Riding
Hood and receive a flower or lolly from her. I was the smallest child selected, and
the slowest at getting up on stage. As such, while all the other kids had received their
lolly or flower and were making their way back to their seats, I was still walking
across the large stage to shake the nice lady’s hand and collect my lolly. At which
time the Big Bad Wolf music started to play. The device was simple, the music would
precede the entry of the Wolf and to that point in the pantomime we’d been trained
by music, the responses of those on stage, and possibly some prompting from our
parents, to fear what might unfold when the wolf arrives. My excitement at meeting
Red Riding Hood and getting a lolly quickly turned to abject terror, I bolted down
the stairs and sat in the first available seat in the auditorium, next to a girl much older
than myself. She was concerned about me and asked if I wanted a lolly. I did want a
lolly, I cried, so she turned to her mother to get me one. But it seemed like she was
turned away forever, while her back was turned I stood up and fled to the back of the
auditorium. Here the memory becomes foggy. I suppose I wailed and cried and my
dad took me outside to calm me down.

I guess each child would have a different response but no doubt the music was timed

to catch out the slow child and draw some kind of spectacle out of however they
might respond.

If The Comfort Zone is a measure of how an audience will respond when surprised
on stage, then it is difficult elicit an extreme response (like by Red Riding Hood
one) from an adult audience. We’re all too compliant. We’d all accept the lolly from
Red Riding Hood, and try to at least appear undisturbed by the Big Bad Wolf music.
Being asked to come up on stage for a mysterious reason and then asked to dance
to Beyonce in front of everyone is some people’s worst nightmare, for some people
its the Big Bad Wolf himself. No one ran away or sat back down, however, we all
awkwardly complied and we all probably looked decidedly uncomfortable. Which
was, no doubt, the point of the exercise.

For more about Jennifer see her blog

Posted in: Happenings