The art of conversation is the focal point of John Kaldor’s whole art enterprise. Welcome in Project 29, ladies, gentlemen and gentle-children. Presenting two weeks of outsider-art in Sydney!
This is so contemporary is not so contemporary. The work first appeared at the Venice Biennale in 2005. Kaldor describes this to be his favourite work by the 2013 Turner recipient Tino Sehgal. The British-born Berlin-based artist sees his work as being constructed situations, using people in staged settings as visual and vocal choreographies. Sehgal’s compositions are an act. The movements recorded only in the memory frames of an audience. No media documentation is permitted.
It’s not just that we can’t see or imagine any important sensations brought about by distance, space, people-mass and so on. We can use the word ‘art’ and understand each other when we talk about art, but this is not because all works of art have some defining essential magic ingredient that makes art what it is.
In the experience of art, the viewer imaginatively re-expresses the emotion that lies within. A talking act is one of the hardest to show-off. An old staging trick for those lacking ability to sing or dance was to take a monologist or a team offstage for applause. Sometimes a talking comedy act would use a box seat, and finish in a ringing voice, or bring on a child or children, and sometimes to perform a rousing dance.
For the media preview of the work, children projected the twisting bodies to which they belonged, vocalising the title of the work and the artist’s name. The presentation at AGNSW employs three adult bodyguards spouting about similar routines against a study of an audience response.
Project 28, Measuring the Universe by Slovakian artist Roman Ondak was installed at Parramatta Town Hall as part of Sydney Festival to mixed reactions. The work is a record of those attending having their name and date, marked on the white walls of the exhibitive space. The outcome was a pictorial representation of a community’s collective activity. The work was first installed in New York in 2007.
Almost a decade after its foundation Sehgal’s work’s surprise finish is a discouraging thing to build toward, because often—oh, so often! —The audience surprises the act by not being surprised at all. The finish of the act was, in the phrase de jour, the darnedest thing you ever saw. (AS)
This Is So Contemporary, until Feb 23, AGNSW, Art Gallery Rd, Sydney, free, kaldorartprojects.org.au
BY ANGELA STRETCH