Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Loops in a Gimli box office

In tribute to Marina Abramović's promise of a certificate in exchange for feats of protracted art consumption, we at the Institute would like to offer a similar incentive to residents of and visitors to Manitoba this weekend, as It's Nick's Birthday (our "indie-rock opera in traditional DIY style") plays on a loop in the box office of the Gimli Film Festival.

WHAT: Its Nicks Birthday @ Gimli Film Festival
Festival Box Office, 66 1st Ave, Gimli, Manitoba (on the corner of 1st and Goldfield Drive)
WHEN: On loop, 24th-28 July, 10am-8pm

While I personally would consider a ten hour marathon of our short Super-8 musical to be reward in itself, the Institute's Office of Certification, Incentives and Coercion have created a limited edition carbon-derivative certificate to be awarded to each of the first 250 festival-goers who provide evidence that they have spent an entire day watching the film, at the venue on the banks of Lake Winnipeg. At my insistence, the OCIC have allowed for this to include a fifteen minute lunch break, to be taken in installments only during periods when the credits are rolling. All claims to be sent to the usual address.

Right-click save to download the festival brochure (pdf)

Saturday, 18 July 2009

My artistic credentials

my childish handwriting undermines the fact I got given this certificate for doing something very grown up

7pm, and in our compulsory - as they should be - lab coats, the evening begins with Abramović's The Drill. Forced to stare unblinking into strangers eyes, we are slowly disarmed, but school hall conversation between initiatiates undermines our mutual separation and suspicion. Marina's personality is authorative but the exercise lacks discipline. No explanations, Marina, just drill us!

The tests continue during the more rigorously dogmatic performances, 13 of them, that take place simultaneously for the remainder of the four hour show. My companion unintentionally breaks the rules by getting close to a boy pressing himself to the floor and being sad with an iPod. This behaviour is clarified by Amanda Coogan's turn, in which she repeatedly climbs half-naked up the stairs to think for a while, then with dignity toss herself from her perch to a "mountainous mound" below. The challenge is clearly set: which one is the more upset?

Into the next room, and here is the man who has taken all the shoes. No! Half the shoes. The other half are where you left them. Subsequent debate reveals a divide in olfactory appreciation of the performance. Were the pigs heads real? No they weren't, I didn't smell them; yes they were, I smelt them. We will return to see whether or not the shoe-hatted twig man has moved or not, though either eventuality would be disappointing.

Eunhye Hwang's orchestration of four transistor radios, variously between her armpits or legs or those of the audience, works, and no-one knows why. Perhaps the faux-naivety of the giant 80s specs or the willingness to both feed and be fed jelly by us animals conveyed a generosity that inspired trust and receptivity. Absurd bird dancing may be just what we do in life, when you think about it, in the same way that crawling on the floor or rolling our Sisyphian selves upstairs and off institutional precipices may be just what we do in life, when you think about it, but Hwang's conviction is mainlined through instinctive, improvised relationships. On the other hand, it matters more that the habitual art of the competing miserables is always going on, even when you are elsewhere. Returning later to see what Hwang is up to now, we find Garth Williams (among other animals, targeted with intense arbitrarity) of the Institute's It's Nick's Birthday cast has been handed a transistor. He will later suggest the jelly was apple.

It is Williams, too, who suggests the lack of male nudity versus the lots of female nudity may be down to the inconsistency - and unpredictability - of the male organ over a four hour period. There would be no guarantee that all the participants would have a fair go.

In the basement, the man smashing a rock or something on some metal or something or vice versa is definitely the most saddest artist so far. He is audible from the staircase down which (rather than off which) another nudie lady falls slow-motionly. I wonder what will happen if she reaches the foot of the stairs before the four hours are up? "Only a fool looks at the staircase when there is a bare bottom on show." A fool or a well-brought up boy from Surrey.

The wolf in sheep's in bear's in woman's in wolf's clothing is fully explained in the programme so nobody is daft enough to participate. But the paranoia starts pulsing on arrival at the disembodied mouth of Vitaly Titov. Has the artist invented the moment in Russian medical history here recreated, in which the victim of a factory mishap was kept alive for 20 days as nothing more than a head? Or has he fallen foul of, or paid tribute to the Soviet state's notoriously imaginative way of lying about its scientific breakthroughs? Is the artist an artist at all, or just a man? Possibly a Soviet plant? Is the set, complete with antiquated hand-washing basin and "glory hole" through which participants are variously requested to feed or apply lipstick to Titov's disembodied mouth really here, or is it all done with mirrors? Are mirrors a genuine phemonenon, or is what I have come to think of as mirrors in fact just a continuum of of hard-working lookey-likeys?

After a pub debrief, I return to find my bicycle has been locked in the grounds of the Whitworth Art Gallery. Manchester's queer vegan poet and I proceed to unlock it through the gaps in the railing and are able, with mutual co-operation, to lift the contraption to freedom. A frenzied flurry of activity taken to satisfy fleeting subjective needs framed by an uncaring institutionalised urban space performed for the passive consumption of the UK's excessive surveillance network - just what we do in life, really, when you think about it.