Playful, thoughtful and often unexpected. The new and experimental arts projects that form the exhibition Performing Mobilities even include a work filmed by pigeons in flight.
Exploring the tensions of mobility, the RMIT Gallery exhibition showcases works that reimagine movement, place and event in diverse ways.
Some demand the audience participate by taking a line for a walk, throw a Frisbee, or walk around a compacted bed of salt from the Murray-Darling basin.
A new interactive work PAN & ZOOM by Jondi Keane and Kaya Barry is a performance installation of expanded image-making and viewing that invites visitors to collaborate in making digital images and film in order to re-explore relations between media technologies and embodied experience.
In contrast to the frenetic energy inherent in ZOOM’s analogue interpretation of movie making technology, where the artist pulls a mobile wall towards the camera, darkness and contemplation surround a major installation at the centre of the exhibition by UK artist Graeme Miller, which frames the social and political in its geography.
The hauntingly powerful work Beheld charts locations where stowaways have fallen to earth from the wheelbays of airliners in an interactive projection of sound and glass.
As part of his visit, Miller added an Australian component to his work, photographing the location in Sydney Airport where a teenager fell to his death in 1970.
Curated by RMIT senior lecturer Dr Mick Douglas, School of Architecture and Design, the series of works within the RMIT
Gallery space (TRACES) were complemented by a week-long series of mobile performances (PASSAGES) and a four\-day symposium (ASSEMBLY) that drew together Australian and international artists from a range of disciplines.
At the exhibition opening on 24 September, New Zealand artist Sam Trubridge performed Night Walk, encasing himself in a black plastic sphere and travelling up and down Swanston Street before temporarily lodging inside RMIT Gallery.
The walk and process were conducted as a blind navigation with the landscape, as part of an ongoing study into nomadic states.
According to Douglas, the new and experimental works try to explore the local relevance but also global significance in mobilities.
“Graham Miller’s work is the only internationally-invited work that plays a really pivotal role in helping us negotiate this tension between locality and globality,” he said.
“His really haunting project reveals to us an Australian incident of this tragic circumstance of desperate forms of migration.”
From a week during the exhibition, RMIT Gallery became a staging ground for performances, as artists offered ways to encounter art in various live and moving manifestations.
Kim Donaldson took small groups dressed in orange safety vests around working Melbourne, searching out everything from the plumbing underbelly of the Melbourne City Baths to the inner workings of the Grand Organ at the Melbourne Town Hall and even investigating where food scraps from the cafes of Degraves Street are turned into fertiliser for the gardens of Melbourne.
Numerous mobile performances invited audiences to walk with the artist, including Angela Kilford’s WALKING ON FALLOW LANDS #2, taking one foot after another into the way that first peoples of Melbourne and New Zealand value place and motion.
The haunting flute music performed by musician Brian Ritchie of punk-acoustic group the Violent Femmes could be heard in the walkway between RMIT Gallery and Building 8, capturing an audience rushing to and from lunch break to lectures.
This collaborative project with architect Stuart Tanner acknowledged the Zen monk tradition of transitory wandering.
“Performing Mobilities invites us to challenge ourselves about the way in which we think about and experience mobility,” Douglas said.
The Performing Mobilities exhibition is a project of the Performing Mobilities Network, the Australian program of PSi#21 Fluid States Performances of Unknowing, the Performance Studies international globally distributed performance research project taking place in a sequence of 15 different locations over 2015.
Companion curators included Professor Laurene Vaughan, Deputy Dean, Design Games Interaction (School of Media and Communication).
Performing Mobilities is at RMIT Gallery until 24 October.
Story: Evelyn Tsitas