Mildura Palimpsest Biennale #10

October 2015

xs collective – Artcaching Project

The xs collective Artcaching Project was an artistic experiment in geocaching and related technologies. The collective used smart-phones, global positioning system mapping and QR-code technology to allow participants to locate various site-specific installations around the Mildura CBD precinct. By making art accessible to the public through this ‘techno-geography’ the collective was able to arrange the works in various public spaces, making the collective’s work part of an “art treasure hunt” experience. The collective used modern technologies with the aim of making the works more accessible, fun and inclusive.

The artists making up the xs collective organised themselves as they saw fit, working collaboratively or as individuals, locating their own sites and creating their work in response to the theme of excess. This resulted in multiple site-specific installations and performances located throughout the Mildura CBD, with the theme of human excess connecting the works.

The collaborative nature of some of the xs collective installations and performances assisted in complicating artistic autonomy, allowing artists to share authorship. Most importantly, this sharing of authorship extended to audiences in the actual co-performance of work – in addition to the audience-directed use of the GPS-guided artcaching.

The Name Game

This collaboration between xs collective members Luci Marcuzzo and Heather Lee is an installation and performance, looked at how identity is becoming defined by re-copied copies to the extent that it enters a state of hyperreality. Through repeated copying to the point of Baudrillard’s simulacra, a recurring image or name can begin to assume a hyperreal identity and even a collective ownership – which begs the question: at what point does a copy become so removed from its original that it enters the public domain and becomes its own identity?

Scribble and other endangered species

A solo work by xs collective artist Kerryn Sylvia which, in Sylvia’s words ‘takes its name from a fusion between the original book title Australia’s endangered species, and the hard cover scribble design that was hidden under the books dust jacket. Fragments of the original images are all that is left as all text has been erased and replaced with the marks and excessive repetitive gesture of scribble in a process of remaking a book by unmaking it.

God Save Us

Stuart Walsh, Laura Freitag, Rohan Morris, Kerryn Sylvia, Jess Avery and Geoffrey Brown, collaborated on this xs collective installation and performance work called God Save Us, a quasi-religious service conceived by Brown and ostensibly conducted by The Church of the Laughing Apocalypse, which utilised overidentification and the ethics of discomfort. A faux-chapel was set up, with three performances scheduled throughout the four day Palimpsest event. The chapel consisted of real church fittings, and two projector screens, one above the altar and the other on a side wall adjacent to the pulpit. It was what was projected on these screens that proved the most confrontational aspect of the performance: the two projections featured human excess in its many forms. These projections subscribed to the Simon Critchley theory of the ‘monstrously too much’ and opened the possibility of people having a range of emotional responses; including disgust. This is particularly applicable in this country, where Australians have been isolated and therefore cocooned from the violence and other human excesses in many parts of the world.

Collective Bisoku Mildura

Coordinated by xs collective member Rachel Kendrigan, Collective Bisoku Mildura consisted of enlisting members of the public (and xs collective) in several weeks of sensory, spatial and walking activities designed to slow our excessive lives down – and culminated in a group performance in the Mildura Mall on the Thursday of the Palimpsest long weekend.

If You Break Your Curfew, I’ll Break Your Hymen

At the Mildura Club, xs collective artist Rosina Byrne performed a solo work, If You Break Your Curfew, I’ll Break Your Hymen – a clinical performance of faux hymen manufacture, as a pointed reference to the cultural patriarchy that still demands that women keep their virginity while the men have no such restrictions. To Byrne, females are still being judged and held in place for fear of exclusion and even punishment if they stray outside these discriminatory impositions. Byrne highlighted some of the issues facing women in their quest for social and cultural equality.

The Henna Project

xs collective artist Rosina Byrne, also created work as part the Palimpsest Multicultural Arts Event, working with Pakistani and Afghani women through Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC). This work looked at the relationship between women’s bodies, social attitudes and immigrant communities.

Blue Ensign and Red Ensign from Vexillum Australis

Currently I live across two cities, Mildura, Victoria and Toowoomba, Queensland, 1537kms apart as the black snake travels. Blue Ensign and Red Ensign consider the distance between the two sites, one with family and one without, and how the tension stretched out between these cities might be lessened by the practice of semaphore messaging.

The flags also draw on stories about the naming of each town and act as signifiers for an enduring sense of place through interpreting each name from local Indigenous language into English, and recognising each community’s tacit knowledge of their environment.

Be Alert Not Alarmed

Stuart Walsh and Geoffrey Brown installed a joint work called Be Alert Not Alarmed in a vacant shopfront at 68 Bowring’s Lane behind the Mildura Mall, which sought to reflect the misogyny of ‘redneck’ Australia and the politics of the far right that supports it. The installation used previously posted YouTube videos directed against our first female Prime Minister Julia Gillard and played them back on several TV sets within a ‘bogan’ lounge room, as a vehicle to replay the excessively hateful rants. Posted on the walls of the staged ‘lounge room’ were copies of press photographs of then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and colleagues Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirabella at an anti-Gillard rally in front of placards reading “Ditch the Witch” and “JuLIAR…Bob Browns [sic] Bitch”, together with several equally-misogynistic size A0 posters of urban graffiti, as photographed by Walsh in the Mildura region.

Artcaching Launch

Photos from the launch of the xs collective’s Artcaching project