Archive for the ‘Performance & Installation’ Category

“Right Here With You – Dick Whyte and his Golden Guitar” (Live Performance, 2005)

Tuesday, December 6th, 2005

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Live performance by Dick Whyte and his Golden Guitar at the Aaron Laurence Gallery in 2006 (camera: Aaron Laurence).

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“Wells Group: The Beneficiary Office” (Tao Wells, 2010)

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

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I am pleased to announce that I have accepted a position at Wells Group Public Relations. From the 15th of October until the 3rd of November we will be located on level 3, 50 Manners Street (in Wellington, New Zealand) woking toward rebranding the notion of beneficiaries (in terms of definition and representation). After just one day of being open, we have generated a large amount of press and controversy around the project, which we hope will lead to increased productive discourse over the weeks to come. Visit the Wells Group website, join our Twitter account or our FaceBook page to keep informed about upcoming events.

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“Inuit Time” (Wells Group Production, 2010)

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

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I recently appeared, alongside Campbell Walker, Colin Hodson and Grace Campbell-Russell, as a performer/writer in the latest incarnation of Tao Wells’ play Inuit Time, once described by the National Business Review’s theatre critic John Smythe as “an insult to the fundamentals of theatre.”

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“The premise for Inuit Time is simple enough; the players write the script from their conversations, they are in control of the script (although the instruction is to write down every utterance). The resulting text is then edited together by Wells with each group’s transcript forming alternating scenes. The players form a performative intersection with the artist, who, over time pushes at the limits of their commitment to the activity through the use of repetition. Wells assumes control of the performance as he silently projects the script on an OHP for the players and audience to read and follow. Working through the sheets of dialogue he does not necessarily stop once the script has been read through once, but might keep on cycling through it endlessly, forcing the players to choose between regurgitation of their own, often banal, conversations or something else. At a point unknown this breaks down as one or more players’ rebel, refusing to continue or reading others’ parts and generally interrupting the established structure of the piece. At its best a performance like this runs the gamut from tedious to engaging, encompassing moments of hilarity and insight into how social structures and relationships operate. Like those social relationships its attempts can be abortive and banal. Yet there is even something to be gained from this because it has a built in authenticity, stemming from the anything and everything approach to content, that cannot be denied by any one iteration of the piece. The experience of Inuit Time retains the possibility of being something transformative, which lies in the occurrence of the poetic moment and in the hovering threat of conflict.” (Charlotte Huddleston, Problems)

“I have taken the elements of theatre and shifted them slightly… The original notion of the arts doing a good deed in purging dangerous emotions from a populace is reversed. I uncover these emotions, but I ask the audience to take responsibility for them, till the wheels of the theatre fall off.” (Tao Wells, read more)

“Now, this might all sound a bit wanky, but it managed to be a really enjoyable evening. While the dialogue was ordinary, the script was smart and entertaining, and the performances (or lack of) worked well with the space. The play ended with a remix of the script, with Wells jumping around the script, the actors reading what was in front of them like those crazy South American soap operas where the actors are fed lines via earpiece. And when the writer/actors tired, audience members jumped in (one of whom may have been me). The evening ended with Wells collapsing on the floor, declaring, ‘You’ve beaten me!’ Ha!” (Wellingtonista review)

“This felt like art should, as an event and an experience. Immersive, alive, challenging. The way I ended up engaging with the piece was fascinating; a suspension of thought, plus all sorts of meta-textual awareness, veering from hilarity to disbelief to other things.” (Undulating Ungulate review)

Inuit Time was directed by Tao Wells, as part of the Wells Group installation The Beneficiary’s Office. There will be a second performance on Monday 25 of October at The Frederick Street Sound and Light Exploration Society (46 Frederick Street, Wellington, New Zealand).

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“Wells Group: The Beneficiary’s Office” (Archival Videos, 2010)

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

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Archival video footage from Wells Group installation/performance The Beneficiary’s Office. TV3 news footage taken straight from their website (you can see me right at the end, holding a camera in the background). Prime News segment re-edited by Dick Whyte. Labour Day March (featuring Tao Wells and Laura Shepard) shot and edited by Colin Hodson (with Tao Wells and Dick Whyte).

“If you enjoy your job you don’t stop working after eight hours,” says the Wells Group. “We must take responsibility for what we contribute to society. Stop buying crap to make things better. Job satisfaction makes us all feel better.” (read more)

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“Wayfarer Gallery Presents: A Festiva of Enjoyment” (Enjoy Gallery, Wellington, 2002)

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

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In December 2002 I was offered a three week show at Enjoy Gallery. In response to this I installed my entire lounge into the gallery, including chairs and couches, a desk, a stereo, bookshelves, my home computer, a coffee table, the Wayfarer Library (a collection of more than 500 books which operated as a library for a number of local artists which normally resided at my house), the Wayfarer Gallery (my personal art collection, including drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs by local artists), a number of local self-published mini-comics, artist’s journals and workbooks and a collection of unreleased cassettes and CDs by a variety Wellington experimental musicians (many of them recorded in my lounge).

In addition to the installation there were performances every night including a punk rock evening (featuring The Smokers and Brother Love), a free jazz evening (featuring Rick Jensen and Jeff Henderson), a noise evening (featuring Nova Scotia and Antony Milton), a theatre evening (featuring plays by Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett, directed by myself and performed by Colin Hodson and Diane McAllen), a performance-art evening (featuring Tao Wells and Rubber Banana) and a mini-film-festival (featuring films by Campbell Walker, Colin Hodson, Tim Wyborn, Alex Greenhough and Dick Whyte). I also slept in the gallery for the duration on a fold out couch. Unfortunately most of the documentation of the exhibition has been lost, although a few photos remain (thanks to the Enjoy Gallery archives).

Two years later I exhibited a reworked version of these ideas as part of the Tao Wells installation Winning Teacher (Art Space, 2004), titled Wayfarer Gallery Presents: The Successful Organisation of Space for the Modern Artist.

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“An Elvis Presley cloth adorns the doorway to the main gallery where snapshots, paintings, photos and workbooks festoon the space. Coffee tables, sofas and bookshelves contain Hemingway to Burroughs to a typing manual… The free jazz playing is great. It sounds like people improvising live. But the workbooks were, for me, the most interesting part of the exhibition. [Toon]’s particularly showed an aesthetic and poetic sensibility I enjoyed. One page is a list of clichés, another quotes from ‘portrait of the artist as a young man’, contrasted on another page against an ink drawing of ‘the way swedish people have sex’. I’ll say no more, take a look. Robyn Kenealy’s workbook was in a different style, with letters and notes from friends, and an obsession with images and quotes from Bob Dylan turning into an infatuation with Milla Jovavich.” (review by Emma Jean, read more)

Unfortunately the reviewer chose to focus on the artworks in the room and failed to engage with the installation as a relational performance. This was a common response to the show (by critics and curators). The focus was placed on individual artworks, as if I were simply the curator of the show, while the installation aspects and my role as a performer in the space were largely ignored.

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“Art, the closest function. Our closest concept to serendipity and truth, her lover, artifice. Art is our last ditch attempt at understanding perfection (cease the AESTHETIC) at battle with the great paradox, both called by name ARTIFICE. All construction. To see, at last, the human struggle as meaningless, as worthless. To strip the collective ego, the human god complex and see instead. Personal faith, accepting belief in the face of nothingness. Opening to serendipity, chance emotion. Upon rendering ourselves worthless the ideas of ego as comparable are useless. The ego becomes free to believe in ART.” (proposal excerpt)

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A semi-complete list of the artists who appeared in the Wayfarer Gallery: Andy Chappell, Rick Jensen, Tim Wyborn, Jaime Mellor, Michelle Jensen, Alexander Greenhough, Campbell Walker, Mark Whyte, Nia Robyn, Erica Lowe, Hamish Clayton, Toon, Smiley, Sam Stephens, Daniel Cleveland, Mardi Potter, Diane McAllen, Liz Kane, Rob Groat, Colin Hodson, Alistair Cuthill, Glory-Road Topham, Aaron Hilton, Steve Dean, Dean Brown, Dave Edwards, Tao Wells, Amber Johnson, Henry Feltham, Sarah Parton, Norman Levido, Mika, Dane Taylor, Michael Dennehy, Grace Russell, Louise Clifton, Atreus, Leo Prince, Campbell Kneale, Elric Kane, Robyn Kenealy, Fats Valliant, Jeff Henderson.

Special thanks to Robyn Kenealy who was central to the performance/installation and Tao Wells who convinced me to put in the proposal.

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