Line of Fire Insubstantiality 1994

25 May 1994 : Ivan Dougherty Gallery, College of Fine Arts, UNSW, Sydney

Line of Fire, Insubstantiality was performed for the event 25 Years of Performance Art in Australia.

I was extremely fortunate, with very little solid performance history behind me, to be invited into this event by the wonderful curator Nick Waterlow. Line of Fire properly belonged to the Mirage series as number 4. Its sur-title Insubstantiality referred to the absenting and disappearance of the body.

I proposed an investigation of the body’s uncertain condition, its quality of evasive insubstantiality, an ultimately floating, diffuse, unlocatable field in which intention and experience are loosely located. A disassociated body.

In the Mirage series of performances I referenced the body’s corporeal limitations, and an allusion to “unachievable” states, sourced in mythology, dream, and imagination, where suspension, flying, floating, dispersal, degrees of absence and disappearance are featured. In my work the fine balance between surfaces (membranes) and the biological process of osmosis remain in focus.

My interest in architectural form as container, enclosure, membrane, provides a perspective from which to investigate the functions of space in relation to event. Here the movements of both performer and viewer have a performative role.

The performance was presented as an investigation of passages between inside and outside, and examined the layers of indeterminacy within which the body enters into dialogue and experience via a spatial exchange. Space was approached as a fluid concept, referring both to the physical space of daily life: a series of sets of complementary conditions : empty/full, open/closed, neutral/territorial as dichotomies. And to the active movement between spaces, from the interiority of the private space of self (at its extreme the interior of the physical body) to the public (common, shared, negotiated ) space of organised living.

Description of the Performance - Synopsis.

The audience were outside the gallery. I had set up television monitors on top of open refrigerators in the entrance archway. A camping stove with boiling water in a pot emitted steam. I lit two lines of fire in long steel troughs and smashed large blocks of ice onto the ground. The lines symbolically severed the institution of the gallery from its foundations (a reference to Robert Morris). I entered the gallery where Peter Oldham was waiting with a video camera beside a large metal tray of water to be used as a mirror surface. My performance was visible only on the monitors via a live cable feed.

A much more ambitious proposal had been submitted and this was a simplified compromise.

Project Details
Dates 25 May 1994
Duration 30 minutes
Producer 25 Years of Performance Art in Australia
Category solo
Credits Curator: Nick Waterlow ; live camera operator: Peter Oldham ; photos: Heidrun Löhr, Denis Beaubois