Return to the void is the seventh in our Cross-pollination series, where writers respond creatively to performance. Jack Foster studies sociology and likes communism. Prior to PAWA Jack had never seen performance art before. Here he responses to “Opened and Examined” by Virtual Ritualist Collective.
Emblazoned with ‘the Spirit’ is the sixth in our Cross-pollination series which invites writers to respond to performances during PAWA. Zoe Crook is an artist and writer based between NZ and Berlin. She responds here to Please Explain Sacred, a performance invitation by Jess Holly Bates and Jazmine Rose Phillips.
Is not an invitation for explanation. Silence is sacred when chosen. Women’s voices are sacred. Women are a nebulous gang of self identifiers. This performance will cultivate a deep sacred feminine energy…bring others into sacred connection with their bodies.
Everyone invited to take shoes off, two naked bodies, with pieces of gauzy fabric over their faces. Washing feet. Sitting on the ground. Audience invited to sit in two opposite facing seats. Dried with tea towels. Sitting on a fitted sheet. A plastic bucket.
Once washed allowed into the space. The space itself presented as a string cave, pixelated into facets. Limiting the audiences height. The object within appears to be littered with various objects, a shrine, candles, salt, chalk, herbal essences. As time goes on the audience gets braver. Thought the level of noise once inside the space remains limited. One figure departs the duo of washing, takes off her veil and begins to do something involving a syringe like object in the back space.
The thread of tension is the fifth in our Cross-pollination series, where writers respond creatively to performance. Here Henrietta Bollinger, poet, educator, playwright and ability activist speaks to her experience of Kyah Dove’s “Death. Birth. Death. Dance.”
On reflection, given the title repeats ‘death’ I should have been expecting something dark. I arrive at Playstaion with enough time to orient myself. I’m not sure what to expect from the peak of white – is it salt or sand – and the softly whirring projector. Kyah Dove enters naked and kneels on the hard floor near the pile of sand. As the the audience gradually drift in, whispering/orienting, I watch Kyah. Another woman enters, over a quiet exchange the other woman applies some kind of lotion to the slope of Kyah’s back. This is preparation, like peering backstage. As the performance unfolds I will become more and more grateful for seeing this intimate and gentle moment. It becomes a touchstone for me in a performance full of unexpectedly sharp edges hidden beneath soft exteriors. We are intent as the performance begins, our collective gaze on the performer feels half invited, half voyeurism. The first moments are meditative, a slow pull in. Our attention is drawn to a now to a small pile of flowers on the stage. For a long while we watch the performer select and pin these to her legs. This starts the thread of tension that will run through the rest of the performance. Tension I feel in my body, my legs, the pit of my stomach. Tension that holds the other audience members and I in its thrall. Later shards of mirror will be pulled from that soft pile of grains. On the wall behind the performer a film will soon appear. Playing in parallel. Beneath this an urgent and disorientating soundscape builds progressively as the action peaks and recedes like waves. I remind myself to breathe until the performer stands and smiles to applause.
“it’s not uncivilised” is the fourth in our CrossPollination series where writers respond creatively to the performances during PAWA. Claire O’Loughlin is a theatre-maker and producer based in Wellington, who co-founded contemporary performance collective “Binge Culture.” She is an artistic octopus, with an infectious drive to increase compassion and awareness both through, for and from the arts. Her most recent creative work is a memoir of her childhood growing up on a boat, written for her MA at Victoria University’s IIML. She responds here to Louis Bretana’s performance dinner “Eat My Rice.”
Eat my rice it’s nice
With chicken and aubergine
But wash your hands first.
I never knew how
To eat cleanly with my hands
It’s all in the thumb.
The Spanish were wrong
But shame is an easy way
To kill a culture.
No/i/se(lf): an inventory is the third in our CrossPollination series of creative response writings to performances during Performance Art Week Aotearoa. Henrietta Bollinger is a Wellington playwright and poet. She writes a regular column for Salient on disability issues “Token Cripple.” Here she responds to No/I/Self by Thomas Press and Virginia Frankovich as a part of PAWA.
An inventory of things I collected at No/i/se(lf):
earplugs – the first gift. they were needed to mute the willing roars of the earthling audience as they took up the the invitation of two aliens to let out all their deepest frustrations.
silver pipe-cleaner – quietly stowed away in my handbag, sure of what it was
meant for, though I think it may have been intended as a pair of antennae.
metallic green balloon – stowed away once more; blowing balloons being oddly, at twenty-four, a skill i still lack. Several were blown up, burst or let loose to run of off air and drift pathetically to the ground.
yellow balloon – (see above)
A bell – reserved for a particular moment of orchestral cacophony but
clanged in my hands at a few unexpected moments, when something else made
me jump or laugh. I eventually set it down with a dull clink on the floor content to
watch my fellow audience members lose themselves to the permission the space
PLEASE! EXPLAIN! is the first in our CrossPollination series of creative response writings from the performances during PAWA. Mia Gaudin a writer/lawyer living in Wellington, recently having completed her first novel as part of her Masters in Creative Writing at the International Institute of Modern Letters. As well as reading, writing and appearing in the Waitangi Tribunal, Mia spends her time eating vietnamese sandwiches and pretending to bike up hills. Here she responds to Please Explain Sacred, a durational performance by Jazmine Rose Phillips and Jess Holly Bates.
Photo Credit: Essi Airisneimi
Please, explain. You smelt like a spa and the music was lovely, calming. Sacred. There was citronella or something more complex in the air. The light was coming from low on the ground and I waited my turn. Please. It was cold, the water, and I didn’t expect that.
I wanted to be wrapped up warm because the north wind was coming in a tunnel down the street and everything was concrete around us. I am curious about other women’s bodies. Sacred. When the veil fell from your face eyesnoselips cut into the space and you became real. Explain, please.
Not just a body there. Explain.
My friend washed my feet and I didn’t think too hard about how wrong that really was because I knew my friend had chosen it and I couldn’t stand back and see my friend as subservient even though that’s what my friend was playing at. Explain.
Virginia is a live artist and director who most recently made and performed a thing called THE PLASTIC ORGASM. She likes to make shows in cars and studied at clown school in Paris. She is one half of the collaboration for NO/I/SELF, made with Thomas Press, a work which takes place from 8pm at Play_station gallery on Friday 10th November. Here she tells us about how a suburb can witness your failures, feeling glued by the theatre world and the charm of a performer who doesn’t want to be watched.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
I want to say something inspiring like ‘the drive I have to make the world a better place’ but honestly – at the moment it is probably:
The smell of Coffee
The lure of freshly fried Pancakes made by Thomas on a Sunday
The terrifying sound of my parents knocking on my front door because I have slept through all alarms and phone calls
VCrof is a Chinese/European artist based in Auckland, whose practice spans the boundaries of installation, poetry and performance. She self-identifies and is identified by others as “introspective” and “on fire” and lately she has risen to local glory winning Best Storytelling/Spoken Word and the ATC Here and Now Award (Ak Fringe 2017). Her work Fortune 500 takes place on Wednesday 8th November, in the opening night of PAWA performances at Play_Station gallery from 6pm. Here she critiques our nationalist pohutukawa aesthetic, offers eight adjectives to describe performance art and the safety of a counter-top herb population.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The pressure to be productive. Coffee with someone I care about.
Robyn is an Auckland-based performance artist and film-maker born in South Africa who is driven by contemporary literature to make horror-comedy or unstructured narratives in her work. She has a trail of exhibitions in her wake, and returns to performance for PAWA after a string of film works. Her work Every Knot Has Memory will be performed at Island Bay on Sunday 12 November at 4pm. Here she speaks to us about an activist core in the art scene, how performance art prints onto your retina and getting out of bed like a bird (or not).
What will get you out of bed in the morning?
Everyday is different. Some mornings I genuinely can’t get out of bed, but other mornings its like a bird in flight. I think it’s people and exchange. It’s also knowing that I may accomplish something exciting that day – or absolutely nothing – and that’s okay.
Kyah is a nomadic performance artist who view her art as a means of passage through which activism, healing and transformation take place within her life. She is abundant in certification – a dance graduate, a Reiki practitioner, a Shakti spirit dance facilitatator, and makes work from the site of raw matter: self-exposure. She performs her work DEATH. BIRTH. DEATH. DANCE. on Friday 10 November, 8pm at Play_station Gallery. Here she speaks to us about our nation’s social numbing, the irrepressible force of the mother and the pleasure of ‘fitting in’ to what PAWA is, or what it can be.
What will get you out of bed in the morning?
I don’t know. Because I need to earn money and pretend like I want to live. Also I guess because I just want to save the world with my art, to be honest.