Anna Tregloan

Jonathan Marshall

Anna Tregloan

Anna Tregloan

It is apt that, among other projects, theatre-maker Anna Tregloan is adapting the writing of Borges. Like Tregloan, he often employed spatial devices as metaphors for social, philosophical and literary ambiguities: a map so detailed that it covered the landscape it represented, the library as labyrinth. Tregloan’s most recent piece is the still-embryonic performance installation, The Long Slow Death of a Porn Star. Along with design commissions ftom Danceworks, Circus Oz and The Three Interiors of Lola Strong, Tregloan has been devising her own installation-like productions such as Mach (2000) and Skinflick (2001). LSDPS is partly a sequel to the latter, in that both employed a series of voyeuristic scenarios to produce wonder, unease, discomfort, pleasure and seduction. Context and conjunction produce the theatrical content here.

In Skinflick the audience charmingly and somewhat vulnerably observed the performance at eye level, with their heads extending to the height of the stage from beneath the rostra. The staging of LSDPS was less restrictive–the performance had no formal beginning or end, offering spectators several linked spaces to traverse, or rest within. At the top of a staircase, beyond a tight hallway, and through a doorway draped with bordello-esque beads, lay a snug viewing hall peppered with mounted illustrations. At the other end sat a foreshortened recreation of a 1950s/60s chic domestic interior. To one side lay a small, white room containing a mounted crayon, endlessly describing a circle. In the hall before entering, a sign signalled that all objects were for sale, with a description and price of each. Art as stylish sexual commerce.

Within the toy-like domestic annex, 2 women–saturated with a sublime ennui-idly posed, gazed vacantly outwards, or collapsed in upon themselves and 2 little chairs. Much of the ‘action’ was provided by David Franzke’s gently scorifying, contemporary musique concrète score, composed of sounds of breath, inflation, deflation, moans, crackles, laughter and something akin to male masturbation.

It has been argued that pornography is inherently avant-garde because, to infuse viewers with feelings of masculine potency, pornographers strive to represent female orgasm, allowing the viewer to fantasise that he has produced this reaction in the subject of his gaze. Femal orgasm is however impossible to satisfactorily represent visibly or audibly. Despite the apparent explicitness of pornography, what makes something pornographic is in fact precisely what remains forever absent but alluded to within pornography itself. Tregloan’s interaction with and referencing of pornography (presented in a book available within the performance space) was not particularly satisfactory, but in producing this sense of pornographic absence, both Skinflick and her newer project were wonderful successes. Sex is never visible in Tregloan’s works, but it is one of the themes she virtuosically recreates through staging an absence of overt action, associated with a dark, explicitly voyeuristic audience relationship. Her circle-drawing machine was, in this context, the quintessential pornographic object, its aesthetic frottage terminally spirally around issues of sex and the feminine grotesque.

The Long Slow Death of a Porn Star—The prequel, director/designer/concept Anna Tregloan, performers Caroline Lee, Victoria Huff, music/sound David Franzke, Hush Hush Gallery, July 23-25

RealTime issue #57 Oct-Nov 2003 pg. 40

© Jonathan Marshall; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2003
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