From modern Latin, from the Greek words sumbiōsis, ‘a living together,’ sumbioun, ‘live together,’ and sumbios, ‘companion’ comes the word symbiosis, an interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both. In the dictionary, the very definition of a symbiotic relationship, why, it almost sounds like a pas de deux. A ‘step of two’ performed by dancers working together, dependent upon each other, with each other, in synchronicity, aware, at all times, of the other.
In Stephanie Lake’s new work, Replica, Christina Chan and Aymeric Bichon embody this definition. From the outset, they are two different organisms mutually dependent upon the other, moving to the benefit of both, or so it seems. In the dark of the theatre in the Northcote Town Hall, as they stand before a strip of light on the floor, they are the bodily incarnation of mutualism. Bichon moves and Chan responds; Chan moves and Bichon responds. Two silhouettes in accord, making ‘a living together’ through togetherness. You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours. You tap my left shoulder; I’ll tap yours. My arm draws a large circle in the air. My hand lands upon your head. With the tap, you begin to fall, but not before extending your arms forward and tapping at my abdomen. A push here, a poke there, no cause is without effect. We all fall down. Ring-a-ring o’ roses; a pocket full of posies; a-tishoo! A-tishoo! We all fall down; it’s human nature, after all.
Human nature, animal nature, it is one and the same, whether in the dictionary or the nursery rhyme; the slowest faces a penalty, the weakest in the herd is more at risk of falling prey to a predator. Best pair up with another; make a replica of their survival techniques through movement; and remember that if we all fall down, we can also all climb up. Take my hand; pull me up. In ecological rings, in biological terms, a symbiotic relationship between two or more species can be beneficial to all organisms involved (mutualism) or none (competition), and it can benefit one organism without affecting the others (commensalism) or help one while harming the others (parasitism). In Replica, Chan and Bichon, take turns trying on all four caps for size, from mutualism to parasitism, drawing for me the nature of things as the needle traces the groove and the lights shift from dark to light, warm to cool, red to blue. Lake’s choreography, Robin Fox’s sound composition, and Bosco Shaw’s lighting design all follow the same principle. Chan’s hand connects with a part of Bichon and the sound in symbiotic understanding changes. Bichon claps, the lighting alters in response. There is more than one relationship involved here.
Subscribe to The Blue Notebook: Journal for artists’ books, published by Wild Conversations Press, edited by Sarah Bodman, UWE, Bristol, UK, to read our invited contribution, and other tales by other folk. Inside Volume 12, No. 2 Spring – Summer 2018 (pp. 6–14), you’ll find us talking about our artists’ books within Looped, at State Library Victoria.
Head to Book Arts to subscribe (hard copy and digital).
The space between our understanding of the world and how a fox (in a painting) sees the world is vast, but this is what we were thinking, dreaming, scratching, sniffing, living as we worked on our most recent artists' book, Paw Pad Path (2018). It is of the earth as much as of the canvas and of history. And we are delighted that Paw Pad Path has been selected for the forthcoming 2018 Libris Awards: Australian Artists' Book Prize exhibition at Artspace Mackay.
2018 Libris Awards: Australian Artists' Book Prize
Civic Centre Precinct, Gordon Street, Queensland
Saturday 26th May – Sunday 19th August, 2018
The Libris Awards is an initiative of Mackay Regional Council through Artspace Mackay. The awards seek to develop awareness of the council’s significant collection of artists' books, and to develop the collection further through the acquisition of new works by leading Australian artists working in the field.
The Australian Book Designers Association recently announced the Longlist for the 66th Australian Book Design Awards 2018, and we are delighted that Prattle, scoop, trembling: a flutter of Australian birds is one of seven books longlisted in the Best Designed Independent Book category.
You can pick up a copy of Prattle, scoop, trembling: a flutter of Australian birds through our online store.
For a fourth year running, we are returning to the Melbourne Art Book Fair at the NGV, and with us we will be bringing scores of new artists' books, zines, and prints. Some of these new titles you may have seen unfurling on instagram, and tomorrow, should you be in the neighbourhood, you can see them with your own eyes, leaf through them with your own fingers, nestle them in your own palm.
See you beneath the Leonard French at the
Melbourne Art Book Fair
National Gallery of Victoria
Friday 16th – Sunday 18th March, 2018
Friday 16th March: 10am–5pm
(Friday night opening: 6–9pm)
Saturday 17th March: 10am–7pm
Sunday 18th March: 10am–5pm
(With the exception of the Friday night opening, entry to the fair is free.)
Recently landed: Cutting Loose, Gracia's written response to the Keir Choreographic Award semi-finals at Dancehouse, for Fjord Review
At the Kier Choreographic Award semi-finals my shoes cut loose. At the Kier Choreographic Awards semi-finals, independent of me, that is, my shoes cut loose. Lobbed by an enthusiastic audience member, relishing their liberty, my left shoe, it flew across the dance floor, airborne and free. It landed with a thud. The right shoe, it was a log that tripped another audience member mid-dance, before it transformed from obstacle into a fish flipping on land. My shoes, free of me, had the night of their lives, I expect. And when it came time to collect my shoes from the stage, I thought, yes, I am at the Keir Awards at Dancehouse. (In truth, I also thought, why did I wear my new shoes tonight? I’d spent the day treating them like a newborn kitten.) Spread over two nights, four different works presented on each, the brilliance of the unexpected hit me in the heart. Moo like a cow on one, jangle your keys on two, applaud on three, shake it all about. This hokey pokey was the creation of Lee Wilson and Mirabelle Wouters (Branch Nebula) and the invitation to explore the uncharted was lapped up by my chattels a little more than it was by me.
Branch Nebula’s Stop-Go toyed with their definition of performance being “in essence, just one thing after another,” and the audience, furnished with different sets of printed prompts (which had been left on each seat) when asked at timed intervals (at 01.45 to 02.00 “Pass all shoes to the right” / ”applaud for 15 seconds”) were indeed “foregrounded throughout the performance.”
And we’re set to do it all again, for a fourth year running.
Reposted from @ngvmelbourne: “#MelbourneArtBookFair 2018 brings together the most creative emerging and established international and local publishers, artists and writers for a program of ideas, discussions and book launches. 16–18 March at NGV International."
A little heads up, to those of you Melbourne-based this month, the annual Sticky Institute Festival of the Photocopier is tomorrow at the Melbourne Town Hall. Come along and see the new zines we have made for you.
Festival of the Photocopier
Presented by Sticky Institute
Sunday 11th of February, 2018
Melbourne Town Hall
90–130 Swanston Street, Melbourne
12 – 5 pm