shifting and shucking

performance space’s first carriageworks program

<img src="http://www.realtime.org.au/wp-content/uploads/art/2/294_inhouse_claire_sean.jpg" alt="Primary Producers, Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy’s
oyster shucking picnic
“>

Primary Producers, Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy’s
oyster shucking picnic

Primary Producers, Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy’s
oyster shucking picnic

ON FEBRUARY 25 PERFORMANCE SPACE BEGINS A NEW LIFE, SINGING ITSELF INTO BEING IN ITS NEW HOME AT CARRIAGEWORKS WITH A FREE PROGRAM, “A CHORAL HOUSEWARMING TO CALL IN THE NEXT ERA.” THE WELCOMING WILL MAKE THE MOST OF THE NEW SPACE, INCLUDING THE MASSIVE MAIN FOYER WITH ITS HIGH BALCONIES AND MACHINE RELICS FROM ITS RAILWAY DAYS.

The opening performance season is a strong one featuring William Yang’s latest work, China, acrobat’s Smaller, Poorer, Cheaper (RT 76, p42) and Martin del Amo’s new work, Never Been This Far Away From Home. The visual arts program likewise promises much with new works by installationists par excellence Sean Cordeiro & Claire Healy (a site-specific work onsite at CarriageWorks) and media artist Denis Beaubois.

martin del amo

Of German and Spanish heritage and trained in Japanese dancing arts of Butoh and Body Weather, Martin Del Amo has become a key figure in the Sydney dance scene. He was part of the 2006 Breathing Space tour of the UK and recently returned to the UK to perform again at Arnolfini in Bristol. Any del Amo work is bound to impress with its blend of intimate direct address and compulsively expressive dance propelled by an autobiographical impulse. For Amanda Card, writing about the dancer for Performance Space, he summarised his recent works: “My three earlier solo pieces investigated the direct physical and psychological impact of certain forces…In Unsealed (2004) I explored the destructive potential of loneliness. The threat of physical extinction was a theme in Under Attack (2005) and the relationship between trauma and obsession was key in Can’t Hardly Breathe (2006).”

We asked del Amo to reflect on the motivation for his new work. He wrote back, “Early in 2006, when starting to think about ideas for a new solo show, I found myself in the UK. It was very cold while it was very hot here. I was missing out on Sydney summer and I wasn’t happy about that. Feeling rather melancholy and slightly homesick, I went into a Virgin Megastore in Manchester. The song that was playing when I entered was extremely insistent and impossible to ignore as it repeated over and over: “Oh my God, I can’t believe it—I’ve never been this far away from home.” (Later I learned the song was Kaiser Chiefs’ “Oh My God.”) …Somehow the line not only reflected what I was feeling at that moment but also seemed to encapsulate the thematic territory I wanted to explore in my new show. My personal circumstances in the last five years (relocating from Berlin to Sydney, touring nationally and internationally) have heightened my awareness of notions of ‘home’, not only as a geographical location but also as an emotional and psychological state.”

The opposite to home is the unknown. But, what, wonders del Amo, is unknown these days: “All the blank spots that once existed on maps have been filled.” However, “Outer space, the ocean floor and underground are the new frontiers. And then of course there has also been the advent of what might prove to be the ultimate, uncharted territory—cyberspace, an incomprehensibly vast, inexhaustible playground for all intrepid adventurers and tireless explorers.”

Venturing into the unknown, says del Amo, “almost always means …one is soon faced by situations and conditions previously unimagined and unexpected. New rules apply, and formerly trusted survival strategies are no longer valid. What happens then?”

Just what unknowns del Amo and his audience will face in Never Been… remain to be seen, but the artist gives us some clues: “Spoken texts featured in the show include musings on the impenetrability of borders both real and imagined, a story about a mysterious white room in which objects appear according to rules unknown to the storyteller, and advice on how to escape from crocodiles.”

The other dimension to this unknown is, of course, making and showing the work. Del Amo commented to Amanda Card that “The very act of making a solo takes you ‘far away from home’, out of your comfort zone. Each new work and each performance must establish a relationship with a new place or a new audience…A solo work is the most direct and undiluted way of making work. The contract between a solo artist and their audience is very clear. …(You) are asking your audience for their undivided attention, but this attention has to be earned.”

For Never Been This Far Away From Home, Martin del Amo will be joined by regular collaborators Gail Priest (composer and live musician), Clytie Smith (lighting designer) and Virginia Boyle (costume designer) with Branch Nebula’s Mirabelle Wouters joining the team as set designer.

and much more…

Sydney rock oysters are still one of the city’s great pleasures although these days harvested far away. The first settlers found on arrival mountainous middens of shells left from hundreds of years of Aboriginal feasting, the lime from which soon became the mortar that long cemented the growing city’s buildings. Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy will, with helpers at a picnic at CarriageWorks on February 24, begin to shuck into shape a sculpture evoking this history in their new work, Primary Producers. It’s the first in a series of site-specific works curated by Performance Space Associate Director Sally Breen. There’s certainly a lot of site at CarriageWorks to get specific about in the future.

In Denis Beaubois’ The Terminal Vision Project the artist screens images from a small wireless camera dropped from a tall building: “The work explores the links between remote viewing and physical reality (passive consumption and experience).” Beaubois’ previous creations have included witty and insightful takes on surveillance as in his In the Event of Amnesia.

In his latest work China photographer-performer William Yang, born and raised in Australia, visits his cultural homeland, narrating the encounter to a score for erhu played live by Nicholas Ng. Smaller, Poorer, Cheaper offers a rare opportunity for Sydneysiders to see the famed acrobat with their highly skilled, stripped back performativity. The launch of media arts DVD label, demux, plus the first of a series of short works showings, Night Time #1, along with a number of residencies signals a fully functioning Performance Space, home at last.

The first Performance Space program at CarriageWorks provides a brisk, strong start to a new beginning with inventive, accessible works. This will doubtless be a period of adjustment: for artists and PS audiences one of new comforts, the opportunity to really focus on the work and also to reach out to many newcomers. RT

Performance Space, www.performancespace.com.au

RealTime issue #77 Feb-March 2007 pg. 13

1 February 2007