When it comes to performance art it seems obvious that ‘you really had to be there’ to get the story right. Yet often our location, and the fact we don’t have access to a time-travel device, means the material produced for, about or during performance is the only way many of us will ever come across these works. While it is possible to encounter through other means – as photographic documentation, via a screen, or even as a third-hand retelling – it’s true that ‘being there’ does still add something particular. These sticky questions around presence and absence – the apparent contradiction that lies at the heart of all performative practice – are explored in our current exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), and will be addressed this weekend (Saturday 10 May) with ‘Trace Live’, a day devoted to performance art. Featuring Australian artists whose practices span site-specific, performative and ephemeral forms, join us for a range of performances, events and talks (including a keynote with leading Australian artist Mike Parr and an in-conversation with Diana Smith of Sydney-based video and performance collaboration, Brown Council).
Provided the weather is sunny, you’ll be able to watch as Kerrie Poliness makes a large-scale geometric drawing in sports field line marker on Maiwar Green outside GOMA. Often quoting the history of twentieth-century abstract art, Poliness has made a number of these spectacular works in the past. While they can be produced to varying dimensions on any flat surface (typically walls and floors) by following the artist’s instruction manual, these drawings can never be precisely replicated, as their execution is dependent on an approximation rather than precise measurements. This site-specific piece at GOMA, Field Drawing #1, will appear and then slowly degrade over time, before disappearing altogether.
Meanwhile in Cinema B and online you’ll be able to watch as Michaela Gleave performs a simple endurance action, and, quite literally, waits for time to pass. Waiting for Time (7 Hour Confetti Work) will see the artist both become a clock, and at the same time, a slave to it. Every minute on the minute while the Gallery is open (10am-5pm), Gleave will set off a confetti canon, rendering absurd through repetitive action what would ordinarily be a short-lived moment of celebration. Referencing the history of endurance performance and the idea of a standard working day – so closely bound to the advent of ‘clock time’ – the performance also explores what the artist describes as ‘compressions and expansions in time and space’. 5pm here in Brisbane will correspond with 3am for Gleave in New York, and the passing of minutes and hours will be measured simply as a series of explosions, and as confetti piling up on the floor.
Elsewhere in the Gallery, Agatha Gothe-Snape will explore relationships between the body, space, movement and time, through randomness and improvisation. For ‘Trace Live’ she will collaborate with a group of dancers to interpret a visual score on display in the ‘Trace’ exhibition space, to create a new iteration of Three Ways to Enter and Exit, which was first performed by dancer Brooke Stamp in 2011. This new work, called Other Ways to Enter and Exit, will be developed as a response both to Stamp’s dance and Gothe-Snape’s remembered account of it, as well as its new context in the exhibition. The work offers up a class of ideas – thoughts or suggestions for many possible courses of action. As with all art, you are free to make of it what you will, though in this instance you are invited to dance, rather than simply think.
So, join us this Saturday from 10am and share your experience of the day by using #TraceLive.