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Proximity Festival 2013 - Program C

Nerida Dickinson

A selection of thought-provoking pieces, from learning a new skill to discovering darkness within, marks this Proximity Festival schedule.
Proximity Festival 2013 - Program C

Image: Proximity Festival 2013 Program C

A further dip into the exquisitely organised celebration of intense interaction between artist and audience of Proximity Festival 2013 sees a line up featuring Incendia Lascivio, Meditation on the Breath, The Mark and The Gallery of Impermanent Things.  As with any review for an immersive or interactive performance, the reviewer’s experience may be objectively and/or subjectively substantially different to any other person’s experience of the same piece.  For a participant to experience the full impact of any performance, it would be best to only read the cryptic program notes for guidance before attending, rather than any review.

Program C began for me with Incendia Lascivio, an invitation “to destroy an artwork and make another”.  Sarah Elson is an experienced visual artist, and a very patient teacher, displaying a board of her micro-sculptures of quizzically individual kangaroo paw flowers, from which one is selected to melt down and cast as a new, different kangaroo paw.  The experience of working with metal was intriguing, the simplicity and attention to detail appealing.  Elson worked with me to create not only an artwork but also a sense of discovery and achievement, a new understanding of the process behind the creation of metal sculptures and an appreciation of the materials.

Meditation on the Breath, created by Janet Carter and performed by Nikki Jones, challenged the performer and participant on various levels. Jones persuaded me to close my eyes and trust her to lead a guided meditation session.  Having overcome this hurdle, the interaction with the immediate environment shied away from traditional sweetness and light imagery, instead playing with intelligently subversive honesty, finding the repulsive and embracing it.  Jones pushed boundaries further by invading personal space and then examining the reasons for our revulsion from enforced intimacy with strangers. Remarkably peaceful and soothing, Jones’ voice was mesmerising and the meditation practice a beguiling exercise. 

Moya Thomas next brought me The Mark.  Rather, a handler led me to a secluded location and left me holding a mobile phone.  Following the instructions from the caller on the phone, I found my way to a small room containing a dossier on the target and a sniper rifle.  There were instructions on how to fire the rifle, and warnings on the risks taken by failing to accomplish the mission – the hunter could rapidly become the hunted.  The quiet time spent waiting for the target, in which I accidentally murdered an innocent festival attendee (the window overlooked part of the Party for One celebrations that were taking place at the time), made me wonder if I had any killer instinct at all.  I missed my mark, and was efficiently dispatched as I cowered in the corner behind the door.  My handler came for me and gently took me back to the foyer of PICA, more than a little shaken.  The role-playing scenario had really messed with my head – mission accomplished for Thomas.

My final experience of Program C was a portrait session in The Gallery of Impermanent Things.  Daniel Nevin added generous doses of philosophy to his visual arts practice, giving the sitter plenty of food for thought during the three-minute exposure. The resulting full-length portrait, glowing in the darkened gallery, showed a pensive figure, one that faded quickly from its initial brightness to a dully glowing suggestion of form. Between the gently spoken topics for consideration and the rapid fading of detail from the portrait, I ended the night in a contemplative mood, grateful for the time and attention to detail from each of these skilled arts practitioners.

Beyond the intimate space of each performance, the Proximity Festival 2013 has enjoyed a tightly run organisational infrastructure under the close attention of Stage Manager Mary Wolfla. The dedication of the many volunteers has allowed the sensitive curation of James Berlyn and Sarah Rowbottam to shine through, and for each program to create its own, distinct journey for each attendee.

Going from strength to strength, Proximity Festival 2013 has many facets, each one of them delightful.

Proximity Festival 2013 – Program C
Curators: James Berlyn / Sarah Rowbottam
Producer: Sarah Rowbottam
Provocateur: Kelli Mccluskey
Stage Manager: Mary Wolfla
Technician: Ray Bradford

Program C: Incendia Lascivio, Meditation on the Breath, The Mark and The Gallery of Impermanent Things
Performed by Sarah Elson, Janet Carter/ Nikki Jones, Moya Thomas and Daniel Nevin.
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth Cultural Centre, Northbridge
23 October – 2 November 2013

For more information and tickets:

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Nerida Dickinson is a writer with an interest in the arts. Previously based in Melbourne and Manchester, she is observing the growth of Perth's arts sector with interest.