8 Propositions for Islands // Part 4: Plinth as Island

Kate Britton

As the final minutes of Kaldor Public Art Project 27: 13 Rooms drew closer, many of the project staff, myself included, crowded into the 13th room – Australia’s room – where young Brisbane-based artists Clark Beaumont were counting out their final moments atop the small plinth they had occupied for the show’s duration. At least eight hours a day for twelve days the two had balanced together on the small surface, mostly silent, as some 30,000 people filed in and out. The work was called Coexisting and was the duo’s first foray into durational performance.

Reactions to the then-virtually unknown artists in the local arts community were mixed. Some had the audacity to question super-curators Hans Ulrich Obrist and Klaus Biesenbach, wondering why they had not selected a more established Australian performance artist for the task. Others, such as entrenched SMH critic John McDonald, all-too-readily dismissed the pair as “remarkably decorative”, noting that visitors may be disappointed to find them fully clothed. Still others were entranced, spending hours at a time in the small white room, watching the performers shift uncomfortably on their insufficient plinth.

For the duration of the project, Clark Beaumont made the plinth an island, a tiny territory, isolated in spite of the crowds. By marooning themselves atop their plinth, which was reduced in size again and again before the opening to find the ‘Goldilocks zone’ of discomfort, the artists exposed a stark and stripped back relationship. Indeed there was nothing to the work but their negotiation of a shared space, the minute movements of the two to stay balanced.

It was a work that evolved slowly. What at first was a challenge became a battle of attrition; discomfort became pain. The artists’ faces became increasingly drawn; bruises broke out all over one’s legs. Their daily march to the room became ever more like a trudge. And yet atop their plinth all this seemed to fade, dwarfed by the simultaneously banal yet momentous – or at the very least mesmeric – task at hand. The plinth had become an island; the only thing that mattered negotiating this shared space – this limited and contested territory.

On an island the periphery blurs and fades. Life is lived in the minute readjustment of a leg or an unspoken change of position. On an island, negotiations like this are everything. We can do nothing but coexist, lest we all fall.

 

Clark Beaumont’s exhibition Heart to Heart is currently on display at Roslyn Oxley9 in Sydney until June 21, 2014.

News Archive

RUNWAY REGIONAL TRAVEL BURSARIES: Be our Cementa17 reporter!

CALLOUT FOR PROPOSALS: Issue #33 Power

Love art? Got skillz? Runway Board Member Call Out for 2017

RUNWAY <3 LIVEWORKS // writers workshop callout

FAIRFIELD FOOD SAFARI // presented by Runway and PYT

RUNWAY REGIONAL TRAVEL BURSARIES

Tribunal: a review

Callout: Runway issue #32[RE/PRODUCTION]

On the threatened closure of Sydney College of the Arts

In Response: A carving out of space that is designed to end

In Response: Community, Criticality and Play

In Response: Strength in ARI Diversity

Callout: Runway issue #31[WEST]

In Response: Revisiting a Melbourne Perspective

“The party becomes the site of knowing”: on the Brisbane sharehouse ARI

The Lifecycle and Deathcycle of ARIs

One year in an ARI

Balancing on the Edge: A Melbourne Perspective

Les Bijoux Indiscrets

On the marginalisation of female pleasure

An account of my encounters with porn

Introducing our guest blogger for issue #29[PORN]: Emily Post Coitus

On Reenacting ‘Dream Merchant’

CALLOUT FOR RUNWAY ISSUE #30 [ECOLOGIES]

Conversations 6

Conversations 5

Conversations 4

Conversations 3

Runway is looking for 4 new board members for 2016!

Conversations 2

Conversations 1

CALLOUT FOR RUNWAY ISSUE #29 [PORN]

Lauren Reid and Vaida Stepanovaité discuss the Project Space Festival in Berlin

The Politics of Listening

A list of other jobs artists do to support their careers as artists.

Australian Artist Run Initiatives condemn cuts to the Australia Council for the Arts

Amina McConvell’s hypnogogic manifestations

Casula

CALLOUT FOR RUNWAY ISSUE #28 [MOVEMENT]

Perth Amboy

Stuart Highway

Wallerawang

GIRLS TO THE FRONT: Hissy Fit

Clandulla

Kandos

Henley Golf Club

Moira National Park

An unusual way of doing politics: Alex Martinis Roe

Strike!

Constructions of the ‘We’

Rights of Nature

The Government Machine

CALLOUT FOR RUNWAY ISSUE #27 [OUTSIDE]

Part VIII: One for the money

Keyboard mash (Caps lock on): Terrence Combos

Part VII: GCC @ KTZ @ FIAC

The Next Big Thing: Reserve your Runway 2014 Artist Edition today

PRESS RELEASE: Become a Founding Member of the Runway Funding Circle

Part VI: Notes on Society, with Susan Gibb

Art can make you soft again: spotlight on Rosie Deacon

Part V: A page on W.A.G.E. (valued at approx. $93.75)

PRESS RELEASE: Runway announces first Annual Commission by Sydney emerging artist Rosie Deacon

Part IV: Some smiles for the Economic Frown

Runway is growing: Callout for new board members

Part III: What is this thing called work?

Regional Contemporary Art Network

Part II: Eyes on the prize

Part I: Lazzarato’s ‘Indebted Man’

CALLOUT FOR RUNWAY ISSUE #26 [KNOWLEDGE]

Introducing guest blogger Eleanor Ivory Weber

“Die Sonne kommt näher”: Otto Piene’s More Sky in Berlin

Fuzzy Logic: Talking Big Data and the Aesthetics of the Infinitely Small at CMA2014

The Pale Fox – Camille Henrot in Copenhagen

Kiribati – Putting a Face to Climate Change

The Flux of Space: Berlin’s Project Space Festival

Guest Editor for Runway Issue#25 – Andrew Hurle

Callout for Runway Issue #25 [MONEY]

8 Propositions for Islands: Part 8

8 Propositions for Islands: Part 7 // Becoming Post-nissological

8 Propositions for Islands: Coda // Those Who Stay

8 Propositions for Islands // Part 5: Island as Island

8 Propositions for Islands // Part 4: Plinth as Island

8 Propositions for Islands // Part 3: Queer Performance as Archipelago

8 Propositions for Islands // Part 2: Stage as Island

8 Propositions for Islands // Part 1: Artist as Island

A Discourse on Prototyping, War Crimes and Artistic Practice

Callout for Issue #24 [ISLANDS]

It’s launch day!

Out with Outsider Art?

21st Century Artist conference, Artspace Sydney, October 2013

Runway’s New Adventure


CONNECT WITH US

Search Runway