UPSTAIRS RECAP II

Photographs by Felipe Neves

For 12 days, 12 Australian artists lived at Kaldor Public Art Projects during an intense Artist Residency Program curated by Sophie O'Brien and Emma Pike. They were challenged to step out of their comfort zones to re-think, re-analyze and re-feel their way through their normal creative processes, in order to find new perspectives and artistic expressions. 

Inside the huge industrial warehouse hosting the project, as Marina Abramovic's long durational exercises took place downstairs, upstairs all 12 artists in residence performed and presented public lectures on their work. They discussed contemporary views on a wide range of subjects such as politics, intimacy, gender, neuroscience, identity, psychology, vulnerability and failure. The diverse backgrounds these artists brought to the residency program allowed for a meaningful exchange of ideas, interests, and their respective works in progress

Christian Thompson

My name is Christian Thompson, and I came here from London. I am a multidisciplinary artist, so I work in lots of different areas, but primarily photography, performance, sound, and sculpture. I’ve been away from Australia for some time, so it's been nice to come back and reconnect with other Australian artists and their work. 

I studied dance in Amsterdam, and part of that program was similar to this residency in the sense that you have to make work. It worked quite well because I came with a set of ideas I wanted to explore. This is my opportunity to workshop those ideas.

Marina is very generous in terms of being in the space, open to having conversations. And working together with the other artists has been interesting because we can see all different kinds of intersections between performance, theater, more interactive forms of work, etc. It has been quite motivating and makes me think of how my work fits within that context.

I transformed my spot inside the exhibition space into my studio. There, I’m doing a durational performance where I read Joseph Campbell’s Masks of God out loud. My practice is a constant narrative of two worlds interconnected: the idea of gender and the idea of racial identity, things that I experience in my day-to-day life. Living in different cities has made me feel those experiences of gender and race through cultural filters. That kind of permeates my work. There are a lot of visual references, but they depend on what I’m interested in at that specific point in time, whether it’s mythology, landscapes, rituals…my works sort of touches on a lot of different areas.

The idea of ritual comes from many different places. There are domestic rituals that I read and enact, or experiences that I’ve had and then aestheticized into a work [of art]. For example: I did a work with three aboriginal girls in which their hair was slowly blowing around their shoulders, just flying about. That is based on my childhood. Walking through the desert in Australia, the wind would lift up my hair. This is just one idea of where I’d take an image from my life and then amplify that in the context of my work. I did another video where my brother, father, niece, and nephew all comb each others’ hair simultaneously. It was based on the fact that my dad used to comb our curly hair until it was straight. There's another work where my dad and I speak in a traditional language, greeting each other. Rituals, for me, come from all kinds of places. They are definitely connected to my own life experiences and recollection of memories and sensations, silent gestures that can say something profound about an experience.

 

Lottie Consalvo

My name is Lottie Consalvo and I make performances, videos, photographs, paintings, and installations. I started out just as a painter, but found that I was not quite able to reach the depth I wanted with my work at the time. So I started to explore performance art and different ways of working. I’m originally from Melbourne, but I lived in Germany for three years and then moved to Newcastle.

It's been really interesting to manage between Kaldor and Marina. There are lots of layers to the residency. As a whole, it has given me the chance to spend a lot of time with artists who have different ideas and views of performance.That was helpful for me. I have been engaging in conversations constantly about this practice, especially since I come from a painting background. I enjoyed the discourse that went on during the program. 

The opportunity to work with Marina is something that I would not have imagined in my wildest dreams. I feel she has been very supportive of all our ideas, wanting to expand on and have a conversation about them. Her advice has been very honest and helpful.

Marina is not intellectualizing things. She is coming from a larger context, from her own life experiences and the activities she has immersed herself in. And I'm purely delving into personal experience too, to be read in a collective way, hopefully.

Here, I've decided to work on trying to find happiness. At the same time, this is also quite sad: that romantic notion of trying to find how. Maybe there is happiness at times when we reflect about other moments in which we were or could potentially be happy, to find happiness in expectations for the future. Because being happy in the present, it's like you catch it and then it's gone.

I'm working on a couple of things in line with that, [I’m] really interested in how gestures can change the energy or the emotion in a room. If I were to sit on a chair and just look straight ahead, that would be very different than if I crawled under the chair, or had the chair facing the corner, or stood on the chair reaching toward the ceiling. I did this yesterday with the chair and today I’ll do the same with a bed. Maybe I'll be slumped over the edge of the bed, maybe I'll put myself in between the two mattresses, maybe I'll stand with the sheet over my whole body.

I'm very interested in life, in everyday art. This is why I do long performances where I live out my desires. I don't have an audience other than people who are interested in what I'm doing throughout the year. My interest is bringing this feeling of day-to-day domesticity into a gallery context, also by making a gallery my home, literally, just moving around the space in seemingly unusual ways


Marina Abramovic: In Residence took place @ Kaldor Public Art Projects, Pier 2/3, Sydney - Australia from June 24 to July, 05, 2015.