Saturday, December 22, 2018

Magazine d'Art De Saigon, Issue 4

I was very pleased to be included in the current issue of the Magazine d'Art De Saigon. In the issue I introduced myself and some of my personal history along with a brief summary of the recent digital print I made (District 7 Strata, 2018), which involved walking as part of the creative process.

A more in-depth account of the work was published in the 5th edition of the Living Maps Review.

It is great that I am able to use this forum to introduce my work and hope that it will be the start of a productive period for me here in Saigon, Vietnam where I have been living and working since May 2018.

The section focusing on my work can be read here:
or, below:

Hard copies of the issue can be ordered via Blurb here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The 10th Online Performance Art Festival

On the 6th December 2018 I was very happy to participate in the 10th Online Performance Art Festival, conducted solely online and broadcasting from my home in Saigon, Vietnam.

I chose my performance 'The Path to Enlightenment' as I had not performed it live before, only conducting a recorded version on 2nd July 2017 on Cheung Chau Island, Hong Kong.

This live-streamed version went out on the internet at 1:00pm UTC (8:00pm Vietnam time).

This 10th incarnation of the Festival, concept initiated by Sandra Bozic, took place from 6th - 9th December and my performance was the second piece to be presented on the first day following Yusuf Durodola who was streaming from Lagos, Nigeria.

Live performance is interesting as there is no guarantee that events will happen as planned, anything is possible and it is necessary to be prepared for that eventuality. In fact there was a surprise (for me) during my performance. At the beginning, I set up the framing of the candle and there was a minute or so before I began as I needed confirmation that the live-streaming was working properly. Once I received the go-ahead from Dragan Strunjas I switched off the lights and began the performance.

In the version I recorded last year, once I had lit the candle it burned until I blew out the flame and it instantly re-ignited itself. In this new, live version I discovered that the first time I blew out the candle it did not re-ignite as expected although this was not such a problem, of course, as I could easily light the candle again. Following the second lighting of the candle the performance then proceeded as expected until the candle had burnt itself out thereby ending the performance.

On reflection, the candle's failure to re-ignite itself actually reinforced the underlying meaning behind the performance. The struggle to extinguish the candle in the latter part of the performance, was combined with an earlier struggle to make the candle work the way it should! I was initially frustrated and disappointed that the candle didn't re-ignite, until I realised that this added to the uncertainty and loss of control felt by Sisyphus. I was forced to surrender control to the candle and it was necessary to accept whatever happened. These surprises and unexpected outcomes are what makes performance exciting for me. I have tried to embrace accidents and chance occurrences in my work overall but in performance the effects of these serendipitous events can be quite visceral.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Ways to Wander: Walk No. 49 - Waylaid Walking

Score No. 49 - Waylaid Walking in the book 'Ways to Wander' by Clare Qualmann and Claire Hind, currently being interpreted by Dr. Blake Morris, is 'Waylaid Walking' by Dr. Charlie Fox.
Blake is re-enacting all 54 walks to be found in the book.

This score is inspired by the practice of Walter Benjamin. As the score states: "Quotations in my works are like robbers by the roadside who make an armed attack and relieve an idler of his convictions." (Walter Benjamin from One Way Street).

Benjamin wandered around the shopping arcades of Paris, allowing the environment, people, objects to trigger thoughts, feelings and responses. As I am currently residing in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam, I chose Ben Thanh Market for my own personal dérive. The following images and thought fragments came out of that walk.

My walk aimed to coincide with the walks by Blake, Sandra Cowen and the Loiterer's Resistance Movement taking place in the UK.

For direction, the score advises: 'As you walk along alight on the poor objects that illuminate the use and embodied history of a place; arrested by the thoughts conjured out of that object, material or surface, record that idea or you thought-feeling as a fragment of words'.

Ben Thanh Market

1. Mid-afternoon, Ben Thanh Market is open and should be thriving though many units facing to the exterior remain unused. The shutters that provide a link between the exterior and interior of the market are padlocked creating a fixed though decorative wall, leaving the gates of the market as the only breaks in the facade.

2. The Terra-cotta decorative screens on the exterior of the market were perhaps ventilation screens to keep the market interior a little cooler. If so, the screens have now been blocked from the inside. Has the space behind the screens become occupied and do the new tenants wish to keep their goods more secure?

3. The market entrance was once marked by the combination of stepped arches and iron lattice work, both painted in an attractive, contrasting colours. Nowadays, this grand decorative solution has given way to gaudy, plastic banners stretched haphazardly across the portal. This is the way to attract today's customers.

4. Hidden away above the entrance is the secret office, the windows barred. Night and day the low-wattage light tube flickers but no movement within can be discerned. Is the market management meeting still in progress? or did it ever commence?

5. The market in full swing, the walls and arches that have witnessed many sights over the years slowly crumble through lack of maintenance. The sales staff cannot maintain their concentration as they daydream and think of other things.

6. As the morning transitions into lunchtime, the fresh food area becomes a hive of activity. Customers and market staff alike order cà phê, phở, and/or bánh mì. * 
The out-of-date cartoon plush toys will have to wait.

7. Over at the wet market section, there is a plentiful offering. Besides live crab, prawns and shellfish of every description, it is possible to buy fish either alive and struggling in the plastic bag or semi-dried and arranged in woven baskets. These milk-eyed fish lie still and do not stare back.

8. Very little is wasted and everything is presented without frills. As this is the final area to see, at the tail end of my visit (so to speak), I wonder if the market has shown me everything? I doubt it, I am sure there are many more tales to be told here...but that would be for another day.

*Vietnamese style coffee, soup noodles (usually with beef), sandwich made with crispy French style baguette.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Ways to Wander: Walk No. 48 - Walking With a Tennis Ball

The long-term interpretation of the 'Ways to Wander' book by Dr. Blake Morris continues and I was able to participate once more from my location in Vietnam.

This time the walk was No. 48 in the book, a score written by Tobias Grice that (as the book describes) 'engages in utilising a tourist mindset in a familiar environment, exploring issues held in plain sight'. 

Score by Tobias Grice in 'Ways to Wander'

When recreating one of these scores it is necessary to contextualise the score to fit the particular environment in which it is being enacted.

I walked from a housing development close to the Vivo City shopping centre (that was nearby the area I studied while working on the 'District 7 Strata' digital print) to the Crescent Mall further along Nguyen Van Linh - taking in the Ho Lake Park in Phu My Hung.

Walking Route - 28.11.2018

As I walked I bounced the lime green tennis ball across different surfaces, noticing the different sounds made as the ball bounced, how the different materials affected the bounce and, as the bounce was reduced to a roll, how the ball continued to move across this and other adjacent surfaces as well as how and where the ball came to rest.

Screen captures from video recordings taken during the walk

I conducted my walk on Wednesday 28th November 2018. Blake walked this score during the same week together with Phil Smith and Clare Bryden.