The Don’t Art, Fashion, Music performance began with an audio disclaimer that informed the audience that they had entered a performance area where anything they do, don’t do will be adding to the performance. An excited bustle fell over the crowd projecting their anticipation of the spectacle and chaos that a Chicks on Speed performance usually fulfills. Having seen their performance video work before I was keen to see how their work translated to a live arena. I was also curious to see if the performance would eventually breakdown into just a musical gig promoting their music and record label.
Though the performance was heavily tied to their music, it also segued into many other interesting areas of visual and conceptual explorations. One of the main features that were showcased that night was the wireless guitar stiletto. It was a nice affirmation from an earlier work/ song, We Don’t Play Guitars. This segment was particularly conceptually tight revealing the Chicks struggling to play the intruments that were clad onto their feet. It touched on a male dominant rock music industry and how females need to fit the bill of contrasting expectations within popular culture. Another nice segment was the cigar box synthesizer orchestra. The synthesizers were randomly tuned giving the user no control of the outcome of noise/ music. The Cigar-Box Noise Orchestra was a nice nod to George Maciunas’ Fluxus boxes where he would “compose” actions onto printed-paper within these boxes for people to act out, thus providing no control over the outcome of the artwork.
DIY (destroy it yourself) has always been at the root of Chicks on Speed. Spring boarded by fluxus and layered with contemporary sensibilities, they attempt to challenge the boundaries of all the labels that title this exhibition: Art, Music, Fashion, and Craft.
What is left of the exhibition now is the stage/ set - a relic showing evidence through shoe scruff markings of what has transpired during the performance, a video documentation of the actual performance, and the props used. The energy and interaction have now been removed from the space leaving a strange lull. Though the documentation of the performance is actually projected onto the structure, it still feels like it is upholding something static; the Chicks on Speed is everything but static. The constant changing members of the group attests to their fluid nature. I suppose that this stage, set, installation, video can be seen as a contemporary manifesto much like the manifesto in the accompanying zine where it shows Joeseph Beuys’ overwriting of George Maciunas’ fluxus manifesto and subsequently the Chicks on Speed’s complete overwriting (in a literal sense) of Maciunas’ manifesto again. As the Chicks stated during their performance, “Watch carefully, we never repeat.” The remnants become a mantra of a manifesto generated that night on June the 4th. The piece is now handed over to the audience to interact, digest it, do what we will as an audience, and overwrite it.
-- David Yu
All images Courtesy Dundee Contemporary Arts
Images: e-shoe in collaboration with Max Kibardin and hangar.org .Taken during the Chicks on Speed performance at the opening of Chicks on Speed Don’t Art, Fashion, Music exhibition, Dundee Contemporary Arts, 4.6.10, Photography by Gilmar Ribeiro