If first we can think about war as a machine of progress - it absolutely moves us forward in terms of technology, resource accumulation and territorial expansion - we see that war is an abuse of nature, first through its fundamental belief in technology (not necessarily opposing nature, but certainly questioning nature as bankrupt, or inadequate), and secondly through the covert agenda of resource accumulation (also a further fueling of technology).
The question of gender roles in relation to war in these terms is tricky. If we acknowledge that war is a primary trope of masculinity, and that during wartime, normative gender roles are re-inscribed, then perhaps the technological dimension of war preserves nature in a romantic and pastoral vision - as a site to conquer. If progress is a function of conflict, then nature would have to be fixed in an ideological position of inferiority and incompetence, something to conflict against and over-rule. War fuels progress in terms of technological development and capital accumulation - at the expense of the natural. Proponents of technology say that there is no such thing as the natural, which is akin to saying the slave is merely property.......”
Artist Arjuna Neuman
Artist Arjuna Neuman will present a gallery installation in response to an original text conceived by Kestrel Burley that explores the relationship between war, sexuality and pornography. A series of vignettes devised from the same text using post-dramatic performance techniques will take place during the exhibit, whereby performers will work to incorporate the environmental elements as “characters” in their performance. Audio and visual textures will transform the installation from a purgatorial space with the threat of action - into a theatrical space - a place of action.
It was of interest to both parties to operate outside of the theatrical norm, where a set designer generally operates in service to the vision of the director. Instead, Neuman would independently create an installation in response to the themes of the text, and would operate with an almost absolute degree of autonomy. In this way, he would participate in the project as almost a “co-writer” through his intuitive, visual interpretations of the text. The performances would take place in the final days of the exhibition, when the ensemble had spent time rehearsing in the installation and absorbing Neuman’s environmental elements.
Neuman naturally works with specificity and thoughtful attention to detail, going to great lengths to obtain materials that have relevant meaning, each object containing a story within itself. Theatre, by contrast, naturally uses bold visual strokes that depend on the suspension of reality to create illusion. Installation work is also experiential and environmental, whereas performance is most often experienced at a distance through a presentational format. The challenge of negotiating these approaches - of Neuman forced to consider the theatrical potential of his work while theatre is forced to acknowledge the present, the real, through object - has fostered a unique and multi-layered dialogue on the show’s themes.
Installation 22-27 May
Performances 25, 26 May at 8pm, 27 May at 7pm
Closing reception 27 May