Fringe World review: Bonnie Lane, How to be a Better Man in 2019 ·
Paper Mountain ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·
As a performance and dance artist whose work uses stereotypically “sexy” imagery of her own body, Bonnie Lane has archived the messages she’s been sent by men, mostly through Instagram, over the past few years. In her performance, How to be a Better Man in 2019, the Australian born, New York-based artist presents them with a healthy dose of commentary. Her aims in collecting and responding to these messages is to educate (straight white) men on how to avoid the pitfalls of modern social media communication that – all too often – these same men fall back on: dick pics, frankly weird DMs (direct messages), and, when these first two strategies inevitably fail, gender-based insults, slut-shaming and rape threats.
On opening night, Lane was obviously nervous, and as the performance – which is really more of a presentation – continued, the emotional effect that her archive has had upon her psyche became clear. I can understand why – ten minutes into the show I was already feeling emotionally drained by the sheer weight of fairly nauseating, sleazy, or outright pornographic screenshots of messages looping continuously as Lane spoke. I cannot imagine what it would be like to receive these on a daily basis, let alone return to the material to compile it into a work.
Lane has many insightful comments concerning her attempts to respond to, or educate these men who message her on a constant basis, as well as several interesting and provocative points about who “owns” or even gets to “identify with” artwork of women’s bodies. However, the show is unfocused as a whole, more like a workshop for the artist than for the audience, with material that is so draining in its sheer volume that Lane’s performance seems encumbered, not empowered by it. It feels as though she started out to make a work that would examine this archive and ultimately reclaim it, undermining its power, but I am not convinced that it succeeds in this aim. If anything, this proves the absolute necessity of interrogating the role of toxic masculinity in our culture, a job that seems to have exhausted Lane. I hope she can dig her way out of her archive.
30 Jan – 2 Feb @ Paper Mountain ·
Presented by Paper Mountain ·
Part of Peaks 2019, Paper Mountain’s program of visual art and performance for
Fringe World Festival
In a highly charged performance artwork, Bonnie Lane presents a humorous workshop that is open to all, while aiming to educate the heterosexual male on the role of masculinity in 2019. The artist invites critical debate by sharing personal anecdotes, historical references, videos, and provocative dance routines that will have the audience questioning ‘how far have we really progressed?’
Bonnie Lane is a multidisciplinary artist who unapologetically creates and responds to sexually explicit content, including but not limited to the public presentation of her body as an object of desire. This project is a direct response to the multiple requests sent from her male fans on social media, asking that she please ‘teach them’ how to navigate the contemporary woman in this time of uncertainty.
8 Feb – 31 Mar @ Mundaring Arts Centre ·
Presented by Mundaring Arts Centre ·
‘Place and Space’ showcases the work of 33 local artists as they delve into their material and intangible connections to the Shire of Mundaring as well as broader concepts of place. Notions of community, history, personal memories of the area as well as the local built and natural environment feature strongly throughout the exhibition which explores a wide range of mediums including works on paper, painting, sculpture
‘Place and Space’ presents new works by Hans Arkeveld, Christopher Arnold, Una Bell, Terence Blenkinship, Leanne Bray, Ric Burkitt, Pamela Cary, Mikaela Castledine, Annette Dawes, Carolyn Francis, Dimity Gregson, Joan Johnson, Ben Joel, Bec Juniper, Bernard Kerr, Genevieve Hartney, Julie Hein, Franci Liebenberg, Malcolm Lindsay, André Lipscombe, Jarrad Martyn, Craig McKeough, Alan Muller, Isabel O’Brien, Narayani Palmer, Lesley Parker, Lorita Schmitz, Amelia Sonnekus, Alastair Taylor, Anne Williams, Lee Woodcock, Desmond Woodley and Katrina Virgona.
A survey of Shire of Mundaring Art Collection works, acquired from past open invitation exhibitions, ‘Spotlight On Us’ is also presented in Gallery 2.
Opening Friday 8 February 7pm – 8:30pm, Exhibition continues 9 February – 31 March Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 11am – 3pm
Review: Andrew Nicholls, “Hyperkulturemia” ·
Art Gallery of Western Australia ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·
The Grand Tour was an exclusive educational holiday, primarily undertaken by sons of the aristocratic class in Britain, to “finish off” their education, escape the repressions of British society and assert themselves as the cultural, political and social elite. Andrew Nicholls’ “Hyperkulturemia” at the Art Gallery of Western Australia takes this narrative, with all of its implied debauchery, experimentation and excess, and slyly pokes fun at its over-the-top, camp style, whilst imagining and enacting the kind of pleasures these men may have experienced whilst touring the classical sites of Europe. It’s tongue-in-cheek, camp and slyly humorous, but also reflects deeply on the narratives of masculinity and its connections to culture and power, both in the past and present.
A combination of drawing, ceramics and photography, the exhibition takes as its starting point the affliction of its name – “hyperkultumeria” translates to “too much culture in the blood”. This affliction was thought to be a cause of the possibly-fictional Stendhal syndrome, named after the 19th century French writer Stendhal who spoke of the ecstasy he felt when faced with the immense artistic beauty of Florence’s city and museums – so much so that he collapsed into a faint. As recently as 2018, a tourist suffered a heart attack in front of a Botticelli, an occurrence that is echoed in the photographs that guide the viewer into Nicholls’ exhibition. Both images show the artist overcome with beauty in the middle of sites of Italian cultural heritage. In these images, the groups of camera-laden tourists, the reflection of a colourful information sign, and the sunglasses comically resting on the floor a few feet from the artist’s prone body make it unclear whether he has collapsed due to the overwhelming beauty of the art or the hordes of tourists, queues and selfie-sticks that have become the modern affliction of cultural tourism.
Straddling the past and present, Nicholls expertly weaves historical and fictional narratives of the Grand Tour whilst refocusing themes of cultural capital and fraternity in his present reality of the WA art world. A further layer to the show is the series of collaborative ceramics, made with local artists whilst Nicholls was in residence in Jingdezhen, China. This collaboration resulted in several intricately decorated Etruscan-style ceramic vases, referencing dramas from Ancient Greek mythology, including the tragic drowning of Hadrian’s lover Antinuous, Zeus and Ganymede, and Theseus and the Minotaur. By placing these vases at the centre of the exhibition, both the ancient Romans’ cultural appropriation and the dominance of Western art in our current (and historical) memory are centred, reminding the viewer of the many other historical centres of art-making that have been overlooked, appropriated or discarded.
These ceramics continue as a “memento mori” motif throughout the photographs and drawings, in the form of bones and skulls, framing some of the works in a morbidly decorative manner that beautifully reflects the numerous crypts, catacombs and graveyards scattered throughout European cities – particularly the heavily Catholic ones.
Whilst I understood the contrast between the fragile beauty of the youthful male form shown in the works and the reminders of death and decay surrounding them, I felt that the detailed handiwork of the collaborative ceramic vases and intricate drawings was a little overshadowed by the vast richness of this juxtaposition of bone and photographic image.
Exquisitely detailed with multiple narratives, high drama and wicked humour, The Last Judgement, a homage to Michelangelo’s iconic work of the same name, takes the original work’s imagining of the second coming of Christ and, using some of Nicholls’ friends and colleagues as models, reimagines this conversation between the damned and the saved souls of Heaven and Earth as, presumably, taking place in the male homosocial relations of the Perth art world. It’s a beautiful and surprisingly funny work, as the familiar faces of my colleagues and friends emerge from the campy drama of fleshy torment – and pleasure.
Similarly Via Appia Antica (after Piranesi), a composite image of Nicholls’ favourite sites of Italy, rewards a close look. Nicholls worked on this piece throughout his travels, over the course of two years, adding to it whenever possible. It’s an elaborate study of the architecture, landscapes and people of Classical antiquity, many of which are instantly recognisable as the iconic buildings, streets and bridges of today’s Italy. The work is again framed by ceramic bones, which, whilst striking individually, distract slightly from the intricacies of the drawn work. In this way, the exhibition as a whole provides a little of the overwhelming feeling of intense visual stimulation that presumably provokes Stendhal syndrome, with its robustly rich themes of flesh, decay and beauty. The drawn mountain-top of Vesuvius emerging at the centre of Via Appia Antica is a more subtle yet more chilling reminder of the inevitability of death than the “in-your-faceness” of the bones encircling richly-hued photographs of the muscular male form.
“Hyperkulturemia” is a study in contradictions – overwhelming and unsubtle in its glorious celebration of the relationship between masculinity and cultural capital, yet critical of this relationship, aware that other, more delicate narratives can emerge between the cracks.
1 – 23 February @ Cool Change Contemporary ·
Presented by Cool Change Contemporary ·
In Gallery 1, Melbourne-based artist Dalton Stewart presents a new body of work for ‘Rush’, continuing his investigation of urban and spatial structures in relation to the presence of the body.
Guy Louden returns to Perth with ‘Network Archeology’, a solo exhibition in Gallery 2 that imagines the end of the internet and recalls the collapse of our networked age from the perspective of a post-apocalyptic future.
Stephen Armitstead explores the memory of site and the notion of imbedded presence through photography, video, installation and ceramics in Gallery 3 for ‘Remnants: false impressions of time & space’.
In the Project Space, Devon Ward presents a robotic installation ‘The Tempering’ that attempts to imbue primordial elements–water and earth–with a vital psychological force.
Opening night: Friday 1 February 6pm-8pm
Exhibitions continue: 2 – 23 February
Wednesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm
15 Feb – 6 Apr @ Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
Presented by Midland Junction Arts Centre ·
‘Danjoo – Interwoven’ celebrates local Aboriginal culture, Country, language and visual arts practice in Western Australia, proudly presenting new and recent artworks by eighteen Aboriginal artists from or now residing in the south west corner of the state. Danjoo – meaning together in Bibbulmun Noongar language reflects the bringing together of established, mid-career and emerging Aboriginal artists working in diverse art forms, presenting artworks that speak of local Aboriginal culture and contemporary, personal, social and political issues.
Curated by Wadandi/Minang/Koreng Bibbulmun artist Lea Taylor and Midland Junction Arts Centre Curator Greg Sikich, ‘Danjoo – Interwoven’ features the work of Deborah Bonar, Lance Chadd, Julie Dowling, Jeanette Garlett, Naomi Grant, Linda James, Bradley Kickett, Rohin Kickett, Norma MacDonald, Janine McAulley Bott, Esther McDowell, Lewis Nannup, Daniel Roe, Lea Taylor, Jo Ugle, Mandy White, Desmond Woodley and Boyden Woods.
Opening celebration Friday 15 February 6:00 pm- 8:30pm
Exhibition continues 16 February – 6 April
1 – 18 March @ Cottesloe Beach ·
Presented by Sculpture by the Sea ·
Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, the annual outdoor sculpture exhibition, returns to transform the famous white sands of Cottesloe Beach from 1 – 18 March 2019.
Now celebrating its 15th year, the exhibition is one of Perth’s largest free public events, attracting an estimated 250,000 visitors to explore the art and create Perth’s own version of the Italian passeggiata.
More than 70 Australian and international artists are set to showcase their work across the 18-day exhibition. Some of WA’s leading sculptors exhibiting in Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2019 include: Anne Neil, Stephen Tepper, Alessandra Rossi, Miik Green, Ron Gomboc, Jennifer Cochrane, Tim Macfarlane Reid, Tony Davis as well as leading emerging artists Britt Mikkelsen and Jina Lee.
14 – 25 January @ Tresillian Arts Centre, Nedlands ·
Presented by Tresillian Arts Centre ·
If your kids are looking for something to do this January, places are still available for fun Whether it’s origami, sculpture, mosaics, succulents, printmaking, fine art,
embroidery, sewing or learning more about artists, talented tutors are on hand
to deliver classes for ages 5 to 17.
The Tresillian Arts Centre is at 21 Tyrell Street, Nedlands. To book, call 9389 1977.
22 Feb – 6 Apr @ Wanneroo Gallery ·
Presented by City of Wanneroo ·
Now in its fifth year, Northern Perspectives showcases artworks by Year 11 and 12 students from a number of schools across the cities of Wanneroo, Joondalup and Stirling. It provides visitors with an opportunity to experience thought-provoking artworks in a diverse range of mediums and gives students the chance to exhibit
their work in a professional exhibition space. Category Award winners will be announced in the first week of the exhibition, and visitors can nominate their favourite artwork for the People’s Choice Award, which is announced at the conclusion of the exhibition.
Open Monday – Saturday, 10am-4pm
Closed Sundays and Public Holidays.
What were Seesaw writers’ favourite shows this year? What were the highlights and lowlights for the arts in WA? And which artists will our contributors be looking out for in 2019?
As 2018 draws to a close, Seesaw writers reflect on the year that was and the year that will be.
Xan Ashbury Top shows Cloud Nine, by Caryl Churchill. Directed by Jeffrey Jay Fowler for West Australian Youth Theatre Company in July. Gutenberg the Musical, starring Jacob Jones and Andrew Baker. The musical was directed by Erin Hutchinson for Western Sky Theatre in June. Huff by Cree playwright and solo performer Cliff Cardinal and directed by Karin Randoja, staged at the Subiaco Arts Centre in March by Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company.
Looking forward to… Our Town at Perth Festival. Black Swan State Theatre Company present Thornton Wilder’s classic play. Clare Watson directs a cast of professional actors and everyday citizens. Le Norat Perth Festival. Perth theatre-makers The Last Great Hunt tell interwoven stories of love in a world that’s falling apart, as they perform a faux foreign film live. Re-member Me at Perth Festival. Lip synching maestro Dickie Beau channels audio recordings of great historical performances of Hamlet. Billed as “humorous and haunting”.
Top Shows “No Second Thoughts: Artemis Women’s Project” @ LWAG – a stunning inquiry into the continuing history of feminist art in WA. The Second Woman @ PICA – If I could turn back time I would have made the effort to try to attend the whole 24 hours of this endurance piece! However, the four hours I spent watching Nat Randall and assorted men replay the same scene over and over was life-changing.
Can I say the entire Unhallowed Arts program? It was so amazing to have a festival (a monstrosity!) that encompassed institutions, ARIs (artist run initiatives), performance, experimental and visual art, and cutting-edge science and humanities research.
Nationally, the (slowly…) increasing number of ARIs that are now able to offer artist fees to exhibiting artists. I hope that a Perth ARI is soon able to access funding that will allow them to pay artists on a regular basis too!
Locally, it would be hugely biased of me* to say the opening of a new ARI in Perth’s CBD… but seeing a few more spaces opening up as exhibition venues has been heartening. I’m thinking of venues such as Old Customs House and the Lobby as well as Cool Change Contemporaryhere!
* Miranda is a co-director of Cool Change Contemporary.
The renaming of the Fringe World Pleasure Gardens to include a certain company’s name has been a recent reminder for me of the huge amounts of money that oil and gas companies give to the arts, and how they use the arts to appear “progressive” whilst contributing hugely towards climate change, making no effort to reduce emissions and paying very little tax. Of course it’s not news that this happens and that all our arts institutions rely on this source of funding in lieu of adequate governmental funding, but it’s been increasingly on my mind, and something that I think will require a reckoning amongst us artists and arts professionals – we are all implicated.
Looking forward to… “Cassils” @ PICA, as part of Perth Festival “Love, Displaced” @ Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, as part of Perth Festival The Violent Years@ The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights, as part of Fringe World
Leon Levy Another year of frequent absences from Perth has meant missing some significant productions and performances. Some of these – had I seen and heard them – would most certainly have jostled for inclusion in a “top 3” which was, in any case, challenging enough to achieve.
“Don’t Stop the Music” (ABC TV), for the moving depiction of the transformative impact of the introduction of music teaching at primary school level, and for the possibility that it will prove to be a catalyst for widespread adoption of music in the school curriculum. Such a development would also be an apt tribute and memorial to Richard Gill whose untimely demise was a grievous blow to music-education and to the nation… the “arts lowlight” of the year, if this loss can be thus characterised.
Since I’m only allowed to nominate three events, I’ll have to keep as a secret the fact that I’m also looking forward to Wot? No Fish!!, with Danny Braverman (Perth Festival), and can barely contain my excited anticipation of the glorious Elgar Violin Concerto, to be played by Nikolaj Znaider with WASO under Asher Fisch.
Nina Levy Top shows
Really difficult to choose this year! So many great shows.
Attractor by Gideon Obarzanek, Lucy Guerin, Dancenorth and Senyawa’s , presented as part of Perth Festival. Oh the Dancenorth dancers. Sigh. Huffby Cliff Cardinal, presented by Yirra Yaakin and Cliff Cardinal. Utterly compelling. You Do Eweby Unkempt Dance, performed by Co3 Australia as part of “The WA Dance Makers Project”. Ok, I didn’t actually see this work in the theatre because I was interstate for the season, but the studio show won me over with its highly relatable humour.
Arts highlight As I said at the time, the realisation, earlier this year, that we only have one more festival under Wendy Martin sent me into a period of premature mourning. At the risk of sounding unoriginal (because I’ve edited this piece and know how many other people have said the same), the appointment of Iain Graindage as the next Perth Festival director made my heart lift.
And seeing Strut Dance’s Sunset headline the 2019 Perth Festival launch was pretty special – a huge achievement for local independent dance.
The passing of the wonderful Richard Gillat age 76, conductor and music educator extraordinaire – such a loss to our community.
At a more personal level, I am also deeply saddened by the recent passing of my friend and mentor Lesley Goodman, a visual arts educator, who worked at the Art Gallery of WA for many years. For a short time I had the privilege of working with Lesley at AGWA, as her education assistant, and learned so much from her about how to talk to young people about visual arts.
Jonathan W. Marshall Top shows
2018 was an especially good year for dance, beginning with Vessel in the Perth Festival: a piece in which the dancers hunched forward so as to become faceless, moving sculptures.
Marrugeku’s trilogy of solos Burrbgaja Yalirra (Dancing Forwards) was also superb, featuring Eric Avery’s tremendous “burlesque” (or disrespectful re-enacting) of colonial tropes, performed while dressed in an animal hide tail coat, and using a violin and a microphone stand in ways which would feature well in a punk band.
Although there were strong musical showings from both Greywing Ensemble and Decibel (notably the latter’s wonderful Revolution), for sheer digital joy, Robin Fox’s lesson in live avant-techno was hard to go past.
2018 saw the first program at Black Swan Theatre actually devised by still relatively new artistic director Clare Watson (who had until now overseen much of the work programmed by her predecessor). While Xenides and Skylab were disappointing, it was still a bold selection of works, and the bleak queer/trans drama Hir was a stand-out.
Robert Lepage’s approach of taking significant cultural events, conflicts and exchanges and turning them into feel-good theatre about families continues to be massively over-rated (Far Side of the Moon, Perth Festival), while Fringe seem to be digging in their heels in their misguided belief that the more massive and completely uncurated the Fringe festival is, the better — even though this means that artists end up competing with each other for audiences and the program booklet is completely impossible to navigate. At least the Blue Room are curating their Fringe program; always worth looking out for!
Looking forward to…
WA’s gift to new music, the organisation Tura, turns 32 next year, kicking things off with Cat Hope’s bass and extended-vocal-technique opera Speechless(Perth Festival 2019), while our fabulously inventive MoveMe dance festival is almost certain to be back next year.
Meanwhile PICA continues to bring us some of the most exciting interdisciplinary performance, with new works from Aphids (who’s fabulously rag tag Howl featured at PICA in 2018) and Last Great Hunt already programmed.
Also worth looking out for is a new adaptation of Medeafrom Black Swan Theatre, who are also hosting Nakkiah Lui’s Black Is the New White, which made waves in Sydney in 2017.
Claire Trolio Top shows
Not only was Dizzee Rascal (for Perth Festival) my gig of the year – his show was one of the best live music experiences of my life so far. Let Me Finish was a powerful, hilarious and emotive feminist work that showed at The Blue Room. If you missed it, it’s coming back for Fringe next year so get tickets!
The appointment of Iain Grandage as Perth Festival artistic director for 2020-2023. Whilst I’m still sad that Wendy Martin’s time at the helm is coming to an end, I’m excited to see what direction Grandage will take!
David Zampatti Top shows Folias Antiguas & Criolas: “From the Ancient World to the New World”, Jordi Savall with Hesperion XXI and Tembembe Ensamble Continuo: It is impossible to imagine a more exciting or exquisitely performed concert than this. It was thrilling to listen to, and wonderful to watch. The Tale of Tales, Clare Testoni: A small, brilliant gem of storytelling, and a breakout achievement for its deviser and performer, Clare Testoni. Her images have a magical three-dimensionality, and move with an almost cinematic quality. It’s an honest show, and a heartfelt one. What Doesn’t Kill You (Blah Blah) Stronger by Tyler Jacob Jones and Robert Woods: Tyler Jacob Jones, as a writer of script and lyrics, and as a comic actor and singer, is the most prodigious talent in this town. His long-standing partnership with the composer Robert Woods and the versatile performer and director Erin Hutchinson has honed their skills to starry heights.
The appointment of Iain Grandage as Perth Festival Director for the next four years. We’ve got much to thank our recent directors for, but Iain brings his virtuosity as composer and musician, and makes history as the first born and raised West Australian to fill the position. Exciting times ahead!
Obviously I can be accused of self-pity here, but the retreat of The West Australian from coverage of the arts is both a symptom of a much wider malaise and a cause for particular concern. Still, change is good. Platforms like Seesaw have the capacity to fill the void and energise and grow the audience.
Looking forward to…
It’s hard to look past the festivals right now: Gatz: After the overwhelming experience of The Gabriels, who wouldn’t be looking forwad to another 8+ hour (with breaks for libations) American marathon. Icarus: Christopher Samuel Carroll’s Paradise Lost was one of the marvels of the ’17 Fringe. This time he’s taking to ancient skies. Our Town: I’m not sure that “looking forward” is exactly what I’m doing to Clare Watson’s take on Thornton Wilder’s classic American novel performed by a cast of professionals and “everyday Perth Citizens”. Including me…
Pictured top are Andrew Searle and Zoe Wozniak in “You do Ewe” by Unkempt Dance, performed by Co3 Australia. Photo: Stefan Gosatti.