The Contiguity of Totalisation premiered in Ballarat on 22 September 2018 at 8:30pm at St Andrews Kirk as part of a three part installation project across three venues produced by Koulla Roussos, Matthew van Roden and Tarzan JungleQueen. It will be screened daily at Unicorn Hotel, and weekends from 8:30pm at St Andrews Kirk. Printed stills from the video are located inside glass cabinets at the Unicorn Lane Gallery. Here is the Curator’s statement:
I chose to work with Matthew and Tarzan to experience “fluidity” as a collaborative act of art making, to experience negotiating queer identity as a dynamic discourse and process, and to present at the inaugural Biennale of Australian Art (BOAA) our geographical location as a place inhabited and shaped by individuals who embody the contemporary experience, since their ethic and aesthetic as individuals and as artists exemplify a practice in a constant state of experimentation requiring the spectator to embrace active participation in meaning making.
Capable and ambidextrous across technological and multi-media platforms, Matthew and Tarzan are shapeshifters, whose art practice involve utilising the currency of technology to shape their body to reflect the queer ideology that strives to avoid objectification.
This quote from van Roden neatly surmises the affinity and embrace of digital technology:
“The freedom to experiment is very different from ‘being’ experimental. The primacy of being within my practice, the teasing out of its multiple possibilities and expressions, foregrounds my dalliance with any medium. Video, particularly grants access to creative outputs that shift through time; that form their meaning precisely through that shifting. It strikes me as at least peculiar, if not queer, that I can inhabit that process of meaning through change; my digital body on the threshold of the unknown.”
Darwin’s deep-seated malaise is its continuing colonial status, which provides for a dearth of opportunities for creatives to be relevant or nurtured by the culture making industries concentrated in Melbourne and Sydney. Subjective impressions and textual representations, boxed inside convenient and rigid framings, present the Northern Territory experience as “the last frontier” habitat, existing in a state of uninterrupted nature to be experienced as “paradise found”.
Its vassal state and dependency on a constant stream of transient FIFOs or in neo-liberal speak: “creative classes” has deprived the place of an ability to develop infrastructurally the capacity to nurture culture making and conserving industries. Consequently, the limited opportunities for individuals to achieve a productive state of being and becoming and contributing to the narrative about place has in part produced a stunted city, a sterile city, an empty city, a city deprived of critical culture, a city which has limited scope to offer itself as a subject matter for art.
We struggle against neo-colonial, anthropological and ethnographic practices, which present a fetishized utopia/dystopia being inhabited by caricatures and devoid of intellectuals and creatives engaging with “representation” at a visceral level. We struggle against the tendency that exists in the instrumentalist logic of our culture making institutions which seek to reach an understanding by denying us the individual right to negotiate and articulate and represent our legitimacy to be both singular and infinite in the geographical and historical place we negotiate our habitus.
In our life, as in our art, we assert our multiplicity to exist as paragons of the contemporary experience, unhinged from stereotypes, obfuscation and anachronism. The multiple subjectivities which have inhabited and continue to inhabit defy “touristic” representation. Our ethics and aesthetics assert our experience of “frontier” as the shifting space of the here and now where a multiplicity of subjectivities interact and collide producing discourses and practices that deserve recognition and acceptance as material evidence of our culture and deserving of curatorial intervention: presentation, interpretation and conservation.
In preparation for BOAA in 2017 I encouraged Darwin artists to develop short experimental films for The Lane Art Space project and noted the relish these two embraced the opportunity to experiment with performance and digital video. Subsequently, I invited both to co-produce MANIFESTA FEMINISTA! experimental art video interpreting and performing random quotes from Valery Solanas’ SCUM Manifesto which premiered at Cinema L’Univers on 2 March 2018 in Lille, France and again during the Darwin Fringe Festival in July 2018. This project enabled us to work collaboratively.
The collaborative dynamic operates as a discursive instrument requiring transparency and accountability, to self and to the others. Prejudices and the illusion of convenient myths shaping one’s own understanding of fluidity are exposed by the gaze of multiple subjectivities, by engaging in articulation, negotiation, persuasion, negation and affirmation.
With the limited tools at our disposal and inside suburban studios we stitched together the sum parts of improvised performances recorded over many weekends over a nine month period, during which I collected ideas from our random conservations and readings to compose a series of aphorisms, which are presented neither as the musings of the invincible forces animating our actions, nor as conscious ideas shaping our work, but as an afterthought to emphasise the project as a combination of gestural acts producing the textural scaffolds upon which to build an episteme for a critical culture north of Capricornia.