Recently landed: Extra, Gracia’s written response to Accumulation, for Fjord Review
With a Dancing Faun at the head and Farnese Hercules at the feet, I know I am in the right place.
In the foyer of the NGV, the gods and heroes of Greek and Roman mythology are draped across a 14-metre long Eternity Buddha. Greco-Roman, Renaissance and Neoclassical sculpture meets the High Tang Dynasty (705–781 CE); West meets East. An interflow of all the big things: life, death, nirvana. Right place, like I said.
Standing before artist Xu Zhen’s monumental 3D-scan of the original reclining Buddha from the Nirvana Caves of China, I am rendered small in scale and self-importance. All compounded things are subject to decay.
I am waiting for Chunky Move’s dance takeover of the gallery, as part of Extra, a ten-day, summertime, after-hours, and free festival nestled within the brand new NGV Triennial. Each night, Chunky Move is giving three performances within the gallery. Curated by Chunky Move’s Artistic Director Anouk van Dijk, Accumulation, like the Extra mantle it nestles beneath, is true to name: a collection of five new performance works created by van Dijk, Antony Hamilton, Prue Lang, and Thomas E.S. Kelly, presented as something Extra to the Triennial experience. As I stand watching an Immortal Persian Soldier Fighting crouch for eternity behind the feet of the Buddha, something tells me more than enhancement but centrepiece is in the offing. And Othryades the Spartan Dying, nestles in closer at the neck.
Recently landed: Walking on Clouds, Gracia's written response to Chunky Move's Anti-Gravity, Nat Cursio's Tiny Slopes, and Lucy Guerin's Split, three performances presented as part of Dance Massive, for Fjord Review
The Bureau of Meteorology La Trobe St. Weather Station, near to the Carlton Gardens, has always intrigued me. A triangular wedge of fenced-off green on the city’s fringe, it looks like an art installation or a performance space. With a tiny garden shed, and unfamiliar equipment to measure climatic changes and patterns neatly dotted and connected by pathways, it is not so unlike the world Chunky Move’s Anouk van Dijk and Singaporean artist and filmmaker, Ho Tzu Nyen, have set up for their collaborative work, Anti-Gravity.
Presented as part of the Asia Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts and Dance Massive 2017, the stage is an ordered maze of forms that are familiar but whose role is ambiguous. The business of forecasting sounds and looks poetic, but it is serious stuff. Wind measurements, temperature, humidity, and precipitation are all recorded by tiny, unassuming sculptures that appear in need only of an artists’ statement. Working with clouds has the air of romance, to me, and in literature, dance, and art too, but I suspect that it is the data not the tools and their subjects that must interest those who chart meteorological quantities.
Tragic, fallen, everyday. Burning bright, buffed, and admired: heroes come in myriad forms. Sporting capes or a guitar slung over the shoulder, some become intertwined with idols to worship. And all can be distilled to an inspirational quote to share on Instagram.
Said Superman, as Christopher Reeve: "A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles." Quick, print that on a coffee mug, t-shirt, tote bag. The world needs more tote bags.
And Mark Twain, some time before that: "We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes." Hold the print run. That quote’s not ‘upbeat’ enough. Too much self-analysis required.
From the Greek word meaning "warrior, protector," our heroes grace bedroom walls in poster format. Paper shrines to self-made deities, my own teenage bedroom walls were a mashup of posters of the Ramones, the Meanies, the Clash, and Fugazi. Pinned and Blu-tacked, layered and many, they were me and I was them; hero symbiosis. Going by Anouk van Dijk’s new work, L U C I D for Chunky Move, I imagine Lauren Langlois’ walls featured Audrey Hepburn alongside Hank Williams and Sylvester Stallone, a triptych of talent and admirable traits. Oh to move like Hepburn, croon like Williams, and swing a right hook like Rocky. And Stephen Phillips, posters of Willem Dafoe’s Sergeant Elias falling to his knees in the Oliver Stone classic. Cue: Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings a.k.a. the Saddest Song.
Recently landed: Field Notes, Gracia's written response for Fjord Review
Establishing who is a performer and who is actually walking home or on a grocery dash (or crashing the party with their Jack Russell) was a chief part of the playfulness of this piece. Asked to look closely at the obvious and the less obvious, it became a game of ‘spot the performer’ that actually made everyone within frame a part of the work. The mother and toddler that rested under the tree near the corner — were they a part of the piece, like the woman in the red scarf seen purchasing a parking ticket? The joggers too — that was orchestrated, right? My imaginary cast sheet for Depth of Field includes the motorists on the freeway, more than likely oblivious to the work they were a part of. Their credit: moving tail light providers. It also includes commuters on the tram. Their credit: neck ‘crickers’. And a windblown plastic bag seen rising and settling in own reenactment of a scene from Sam Mendes’s film American Beauty (1999).