This project started as an architectural intervention. A false floor/ceiling, cuts the space in half, creating two spaces. This was a physical interpretation of the artist project space CBD gallery, that I ran in Sydney in the 1990s. It also recreates my subterranean studio that existed underneath that space.
Raw fabrics and physical objects of the basement contrasted the electric LED sign and neon of the empty gallery above. Materials included sea grass matting, hessian covering the ceiling, musical equipment, fluorescent lights, an LED sign and paintings made in the original space. Also included was one day of tv – a 24 hour televisual mixed tape in the basement space. Featuring video sketches for proposed works, CBD video documentation, TV shows and movies I had collected. Some of the films included were, Being There (1980) and Being John Malckervich (1999), The King Of Comedy (1982), I’m Still Here (2010), David Holzman’s Diary (1967). In addition record, books and musical equipment were installed in the space, which visitors and attendants could interact with.
The collaborative group that built this space were myself Joseph Breikers and Stephen Russell. ∑GG√EIN another collaborative group I founded with Archie Moore in 2011 performed at the closing event. This activated the space in an exciting and performative manner.
The residency project presented my experimental multi-disciplined practice under one umbrella title; Expanded Portraits; Artists Gamble with Time, A Portrait of Everyone. This intensive activity resulted in experiments with installation, performance and video. Risk taking was encouraged and with this in mind, the works I made with Suzanne Howard, Joseph Breikers and Archie Moore were produced in the gallery space over a three-week period. In this way, the collaboration and making of installation, sound and video work were also a series performative actions. A key concern for my practice is the movement between thinking and making; paintings become a discussion and a means to question sculpture, which might propose a video project. The resulting video may begin as documentation, and yet through the digital post-production and editing process, becomes a collage or hybrid of all of these methods, this residency was way of testing and demonstrating this approach.
One reviewer responded to the events; “it wonderfully caught the essence of art as process, a ‘doing,’ and Thomas’ notion that all art is performance art. Loved it.” Douglas Leonard, 2011, “The Unexpected & the Unexplored.” Real Time 104
Installation design and construction David M Thomas, Joseph Breikers, Suzanne Howard. Soundtrack by ∑GG√EIN (Magnus O’pus and David Ethix), TOO NEVER FEEL ALIVE AGAIN, 2011, cassette single 10 copies.
This experimental work incorporates aspects of performance, installation and video, and was inspired by the phenomenon of mimetic Internet performance. An example of this kind of meme is Techno Viking (http://technoviking.tv/) a character so authentically embedded in a situation, that it inspired people to stage and repeat what they saw, hundreds of times all over the world. Instead of using Techno Viking, in this work I chose an outburst by comedian Billy Hicks (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLWJcjDbtiU). During the course of the Metro Arts exhibition/residency I solicited visitors and collaborators to perform the appropriated text, inside an installation made by Joseph Breikers, Suzanne Howard and myself.
One of the surprising results for this work was some of the participants found acting out Hick’s extreme outburst enjoyable even liberating.
The vitriol that became the script, taken out of context is easily interpreted as an attack on institutionalism, the individual (Hicks) standing against the group (the club audience).
David M Thomas
Edit David M Thomas.
Director – Suzanne Howard