Roarawar Feartata Collective

Posted on January 7, 2011 by

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At the recent LIVEWORKS at Performance Space, I interviewed Roarawar Feartata (Benjamin Cittadini and Craig Peade) from Melbourne, who were there developing a work I Luv Amanda Crowe 4 eva.

Here is a very small portion of that interview, covering a number of previous works that happened in Dandenong and Frankston, which are outer suburbs of Melbourne;

MC – Tell me about the works you did in the suburbs?

BC – In Dandenong , it was almost a year spent out there doing things

MC – Just off your own bat?

BC – No we got some money I was doing a masters…

MC – At VU (Victoria University, Melbourne)?

BC – No at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) in Public Art funnily enough but I already had…

MC – What’s that course like?

CP – Shite

BC – I didn’t even realise public art was visual art

CP – It’s ‘art in public spaces’

BC – Basically just design and architecture and visual artists who want to make money, they do art in public spaces, you know giant sculpture things, but I was amazed there was no performance art. I couldn’t believe it but um but I was going to do this stuff in Dandenong, anyway I started doing stuff out there,  We had done stuff in Frankston before that and we started using ‘surveying processes’ on the street – we had a complaints table , we just took complaints, well Craig did in Frankston on his own.

MC – Were they good complaints?

CP – Well you get good um

MC – Did people think it was part of the council?

CP – Some people did yeah, and then you get conspiratorial nutjobs you don’t know what their past is, who are absolutely paranoid , what was that guy? That guy was South American? We didn’t know what his relationship with government agencies was, he had a problem with everything, you know the cosmology of the universe….

MC-  hahahaha

CP – It’s a beautiful moment it starts getting…

BC – The point of engagement for the complaints is that we are taking complaints,  they are like “whats this for?” you go – “nothing, we are just taking complaints do you have a complaint?” And then the decision gets made (in their mind) do I want to or not?  And the majority of the time they are like ‘fuck it, I’m happy, any opportunity I get!’

MC – To have a complaint

BC – To have a complaint

MC- It’s a very Australian thing

BC – But then you also – it frees it , and then you might actually learn something but that’s something we did with our surveying as well , the design of surveys  – fairly passive questions you do a lot of research about the place, what the issues are there , you try and ask the next question that never gets asked on the survey, you know or you try and jump ahead and use the whole survey process…

Cp – It’s a totally open process…

MC – For the purpose of being there, for ‘opening a space for people to…’

BC – Purpose of engagement – whats this for? , just for us and you to talk and you do a survey and you create this space once or twice over a few days and you start creating your own thing and people get used to your traffic…

CP – even enjoy it,

BC – Then you set up a complaints table and they come back for more , you use these things, you know because we were working for the council and we made it quite clear we are not going to give you anything but still in the back of their mind they (the council) are thinking  – oh we might just get something because  we don’t know what the public think, we ask them a million surveys a year and we still don’t know what they think.

So you sift through the mountain of material and you can find questions like How often do you think about God? cos we had gone to a there was a interfaith meeting in Dandenong, there are a lot of cultures in Dandenong we went along it was quite tense we were quite struck about this thing so we only gave them a few choices on the survey

One person answered OFTEN almost every single other person unflinching, almost deriding looking at us going ALL THE TIME

You know by the end of the day right we are losers for one you know because in my mind there were four choices but there was never going to be four there was only ever really one choice ALL THE TIME  – everyone around you was thinking and talking about God

MC-  That’s amazing

BC – Pass that on to council and go ‘you want to know you want to provide for something, here you go – GOD!’

CP – Transcendental hub

BC – Yeah its not a transport hub the community needs it’s a Transcendental hub for fucks sake

MC – hahahaha

BC – Let’s think big here lets stop fucking around

CP – What was the other question? Tying into that about If you could be in anywhere now you could be in Dandenong, somewhere else (another city) or Heaven and the majority of ppl wanted to be in heaven. I found that deeply disturbing because that meant, kind of, dead.

MC – Hahahahhaa

CP – Not to say that was about Dandenong it was just about

MC – I would rather be dead than in Dandenong

CP – I want to be in heaven

BC – That was my moment, from that we took our point of departure ok well lets work from this point that everyone thinks about God all the time, thats where we went with our next thing. We did a book of prayer.  I just put suggestion boxes in the library with little dockets saying write a prayer down, donate  a prayer we are going to make a book, do it anonymously , I didn’t really know or think what was going to happen, but they were prayer machines! stuffing the box with very few jokes most of them were…

MC – From all faiths?

BC – Yeah of course some of them disturbingly honest which is what you were going to get – luckily they were anonymous.

MC – So you made a prayer book,

BC – Yes and we got them made and gave them away for free, put stacks of them in the library so people could take them with photos I had been taking everytime I went out there.

Dandenong was being flattened and rebuilt. Sorry – ‘renewed’. So I was trying to document all the shit that was there. Trying to give the council a picture of what Dandenong is – it may not be the kind of picture you want to see or have projected, but it is compelling as any other.

We also created a performance intervention where we wanted to do our own ritualised act of the place that had given us this opportunity and also just provoke it a bit putting ritual fair and square on the street even if it wasn’t a specific ritual it was alluding to something other – so we walked on our knees from Dandenong station to the plaza we had bells we were doing some things prostrating ourselves in order to show that the body creates space not just architecture all these things that are part of what which is what doing performance is all about, body creates space, you can lie down anywhere and it does that…

MC – What was the response?

BC – Well it was amazing, it wasn’t lots of people flocking to us but you had these few engagements where people were going what are you doing? So enthralled by it but wanting it to be for a specific faith “if this was Christian, I would call all of my friends now” that’s what one guy said which I was almost tempted to go “okay”

MC – hehehe

CP – Then there was also you know “what are you fucking doing? My dog shits on that footpath” because we were on our knees and had been for an hour and they were cut up and shredded…

BC – And also there were some boys on BMX’s who rode up and said “hey what are you doing”, “oh you know doing this stuff” and we had been going for an hour and we were on our knees and they were all torn and stuff and we were carrying bells and everything and they went  “ok cool, see you later” and that was sweet, I love that!  Just take it in, let it go, let it be what it is…

Roarawar Feartata are a collective operating in Melbourne.

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Posted in: Interviews