Playing with time

22 February 2019

Perth Festival review: Kate McIntosh, Worktable ·
Gallery Central, North Metropolitan TAFE, 21 February ·
Review by Robert Housley ·

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Undertaking any activity at break-neck speed is commensurate with doing it on the edge of certain death. In literal terms, the spine just can’t take the pressure.

Life in the 21st Century is moving at such a pace that neck problems abound. Many struggle to keep up and it is not just those with generational lag. There is seemingly so much to do and so little time.

So what happens when you slow down time? What is that experience like? Is it even possible?

Belgium-based Kiwi Kate McIntosh’s well-travelled piece Worktable encourages that experience while “giving you the power to unleash your creativity and to potentially discover things you didn’t know about yourself”.

Her “fascination with the misuse of objects and playfulness with audiences” is the basis of this interactive work, which has audience members selecting, deconstructing and repurposing second-hand objects.

How quickly or slowly you do it is up to you.

It begins with you being asked to select a used object – for example, clock, shoe, keyboard, stuffed wombat – sitting atop a long row of shelves in the foyer. Then you wait, seated in an informal queue, to be ushered alone in to the installation space.

Once inside, you are taken to one of three “work rooms”, replete with work bench, light and an assembly of tools and safety equipment. On the wall are your instructions – essentially, break the object and take it in pieces in to the next room.

It is there that you meet the rest of the “audience”, who beaver away with crafty endeavour in a communal environment devoid of digital intrusion.

There is a feeling of connection and the time to make it, much like the Slow Movement encourages people to make real connections in their time-poor lives.

What this Perth Festival offering also reminds us of is the by-product of our busy lives – objects, things for which we no longer have a use.

At first glance, Worktable is a simple piece that champions our inner selves and the sharing of experiences. But there is a lot more to it, if you take the time.

Bookings for Worktable are available at 15-minute intervals. The installation is open 22-24 February and 27 February – 3 March.

Photo: Kate McIntosh

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Author —
Robert Housley

Robert Housley returns to arts journalism following a 20-year hiatus managing performing arts venues. He was the last arts editor of Perth’s Daily News and has worked as a journalist in London, Cape Town and Amsterdam. Robert’s favourite item of playground equipment is the swing and its enduring challenge: how high can you go?

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