Category Archives: Dance Film

Roots Reloaded: Culture, Identity and Social Development in the Digital Age

Ayman Kole, Martin A. M. Gasinger (Eds), Roots Reloaded: Culture, Identity & Social Development in the Digital Age, Anchor, Hamburg, Germany, 2016.

Tatiana Pentes chapter ‘BLACK BOX V3: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented Memory’ http://bit.ly/RootsReloaded (Shockwave Player and Safari browser)

Abstract: ‘BLACK BOX V3: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented Memory’ is a digital art film where the protagonist Nina’s discovery of symbolic objects, ethnic dance, & musical forms (Hindustani, Rembetika, Chinese Jazz) reveal her cultural/ spiritual origins. The digital film is a documentary archiving an interactive version for download & play. LAUNCH: http://bit.ly/BLACKBOX_V3

blackBox interface still

Keywords: Interactive Media, Digital Art, Identity, Cultural Memory

Pandora’s Box

It is inscribed, as on Pandora’s Box…do not open…passions…escape in all directions from a box that lies open… (Latour, 1987, p. 7)

This article is an examination and critical positioning of my current digital media project blackBOX – Painting a Digital Picture of Documented MemoryblackBOX is an interactive CD-ROM ‘game’ and also an internet work. blackBOX seeks to exploit and enhance the creative potentials of digitally produced music, sound, image and text relationships in an interactive and online environment. This work seeks to reverse, obscure and distort the dominating/colonialist gaze in a playful manner. blackBOX is produced through the hybrid meeting of visual arts practice, digital film production and documentary dance performance. It also interacts with the notion of ‘electronic’ (image/sound/text) writing, that was in fact prefigured in early Russian avant-garde practices. In the words of El Lissitsky:

The new book demands the new writer. Inkstand and goose quill are dead… The printed sheet transcends space and time. The printed sheet, the infinity of the book, must be transcended… (El Lissitsky, 1923)

The protagonist of the blackBOX digital media work, Nina, undertakes a journey, a struggle and search for virtual objects. The idea of mobilising a series of myths cross-culturally is at play both in the inner workings of the game device and in the computer interface strategy. The visual screens are composed of the virtual surface fragments of the archival materials and objects. These spaces form an electronic stage where the narrative elements unfold as part cinema, part computer arcade game.

blackBOX has been devised for gallery installation. The digital story first emerges from the textile surface of heroine Nina’s (a Russian/Greek girl) red velvet dress, adorned with roses, through a bed of oriental cushions, where she writhes in her chrysalis. Sanskrit, Greek and Russian text are projected across her body. Images of the girl move into representations of a modern urban metropolis. The player/participant is invited to explore this interactive metropolis, as filtered through the digital experiences and sensations of the girl, and to discover three metaphorical ‘Chinese Boxes’, which contain three symbolic performances.

The key interface design metaphor at this stage is a Chinese ornamental window, and interaction with this interface frames the central narrative. Inside this framework, the girl discovers performances from three ‘imagined’ Australian diasporic communities; Rembetika (the Greek blues); classical Indian dance and music (Odissi and Kuchipudi traditions); and fragments of Australian jazz performed by musicians with Russian origins.

Interface design metaphor

The interface design metaphor for blackBOX is an electronic stage/screen surface where performances appear as if conjured from the imagination, or a dream. The participant/player moves around the digital surface of the stage, exploring through opening boxes, musical and dramatic performances, interviews with the musicians and dancers, documentary fragments of performances, statements by artists, text documents, newsprint articles, archival radio fragments, televisual and other related material. The action/performances appear within the immersive environment of a series of Byzantine (Greek), Sanskrit (Indian) and 1930s’ Russian jazz in Chinese diaspora.

Chinese-inspired screen frames combine electronic text and images in various assemblages trigger embedded material, a visual/audio hypertext (Hockey, 2001). Traditional modes of storytelling and music are challenged in this interface design, as the player/participant is provoked to engage with the music and performances.

As the player interacts with the screen, they consider the ways in which (traditional) musical and dance forms mix in various ‘compositions’ to create a hybrid of different cultural forms. This ‘game’ also acts as a digital archive and documentation of the metamorphosis of traditional cultural and musical forms, through the creative potentials opened up for cultural producers in the digitally manipulated performance, sound, image and text environment of interactive media.

These ‘compositions’ provide perspectives on the emergence of a uniquely Australian contemporary sound/culture that is an amalgamation and integration of three diasporic genres of music achieved through the creation of ‘electronic writing’, the assembling of an ensemble of fragments into image/ sound/text ‘compositions’.

Through the looking glass

The heroine, Nina, is the character with which the player identifies and observes through the unfolding of the digital media text. Screen events unfold through her eyes, revealing her projected/imaginary dreams and creating a narrative. The areas of interactive program content are mediated through Nina’s voice (Lou-Lou Sy), the voice of an Indian woman (Devleena Ghosh), fragments of a Chinese woman singing (Zhou Xuan recorded in the 1930s) and fragments of a Greek musician talking/singing (John Conomos and Rebetiki Ensemble).

These voices are integrated with archival documents, voice-over material and sound atmospheres, which gives the stories a space for reflection. Visual and sonic devices form signatures marking out the areas of program content. These sonic devices denote both the present (time) and the recollection of previous events. Areas of program content map the music/dance archive: a set of pathways; chineseBOX, which plays a form of jazz music that migrated to Australia with Russian refugees from China; jewelBOX, the dance music culture that has more recently emerged from Indian communities in Australia, people who migrated from Indian diasporas in Fiji, Singapore and Malaysia as well as from the Indian sub-continent; pandora’s BOX, Greek economic migrants/refugees, playing Rembetika, a politically engaged ‘blues’; and two conclusions, an electronic poetic reverie and a visual/audio collage of the various music/dance genres that speak of mixed origins.

Once the player/participant has entered an interactive ‘composition’, the program content is divulged through a series of virtual artefacts. These artefacts become icons that trigger  areas of the program content, and through the exploration of these configurations, ideas about the music/dance forms are revealed. Inside the jewelBOX story pathway, the narrative is revealed through interaction with the virtual dance jewels, which become icons representing the different levels of the narrative. Interaction with these dance jewels triggers performative spaces, revealing a number of classical Indian dances and artefacts, embedded into stylised electronic stages…. Read chapter http://bit.ly/RootsReloaded

Self-portrait with A Lady From 上海 Shanghai in Burwood Chinatown

Artist: Tatiana Pentes

Plasma display 1920 x 1080 pixels at 1080 dpi
Digital print 1920 x 1080 in a vintage gold bamboo frame

Highly Commended Award Burwood Art Prize 2022
View online 2022 Burwood Art Prize Catalogue
Watch ceremony https://youtu.be/qRXINGtz9gI

Exhibition

Friday 25 – 30 March 2022, Burwood Library and Community Hub (Level 1)
2 Conder St Burwood, Sydney, Australia.

Artwork


Artist Statement


“Self-portrait with A Lady From Shanghai in Burwood Chinatown” is a digital homage to my émigré (refugee) grandmother Xenia Vladimirovna from Shanghai  1930s. A contemporary self-portrait (Tatiana) collaged with a vintage portrait of Xenia by Josepho Schick in La Concession Française de Changhai juxtaposed with a classic Shanghai Calendar Girl poster pinup. Xenia’s ghostly image haunts the trompe-l’œil wall in Burwood Chinatown, outside an imaginary Paramount ballroom 上海百樂門 Shanghai, and oriental lanterns that light up the modern alleyways, serving traditional Chinese Street Food. An old Shanghai Seagull camera floating over the electric neon reflections illuminates rain.”

Coquette: Shànghǎi 上海 : Grandmother

a vintage portrait of Xenia by photographer Josepho Schick and a classic Shanghai Calendar Girl poster pinup

TATIANA PENTES


Further reading
Coquette: Shànghǎi 上海 : Grandmother
https://strangeblackbox.net/coquette-shanghai-grandmother


Burwood Art Prize 2022 Judges:

Danella Bennett
Manager Strategic Projects, Public Art
Create NSW, Department of Premier and Cabinet

Amrit Gill
Artistic Director/CEO
4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Louise Zhang
Artist – a Chinese-Australian multidisciplinary artist


Artist Tatiana Pentes digital painting Self-portrait with A Lady From 上海 Shanghai in Burwood Chinatown won Highly Commended Burwood Art Council Prize 2022
Xenia Vladimirovna Shanghai French Concession 1936
Artist Tatiana Pentes digital painting Self-portrait with A Lady From 上海 Shanghai in Burwood Chinatown won Highly Commended Burwood Art Council Prize 2022
Digital print special thanks The Print Lab National Art School (NAS)

an imaginary Paramount ballroom 上海百樂門 

TATIANA PENTES
Artist Tatiana Pentes digital painting Self-portrait with A Lady From 上海 Shanghai in Burwood Chinatown won Highly Commended Burwood Art Council Prize 2022

“A digital homage to my Russe émigré grandmother Xenia Vladimirovna from Shanghai 上海 1930s.”

Tatiana Pentes

Scenes From A Shanghai Hotel (Film)

Contact Us

PO Box 78
Glebe, Sydney, NSW, 2037, AUSTRALIA

Black Box: a digital media work

Exerpt from Tatiana Pentes, DCA thesis, BlackBox: Painting a Digital Picture of Documented Memory, UTS, VDM Verlag, Germany 2009.

Black Box: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented Memory. Written & Directed by Tatiana Pentes, Digital Sound & Moving Image: Geoffrey Weary
Black Box: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented Memory. Written & Directed by Tatiana Pentes, Digital Sound & Moving Image: Geoffrey Weary

Launch BlackBoxv3 online

“It is inscribed as on Pandora’s Box…do not open…passions…escape in all directions from a box that lies open…” from Bruno Latour’s “Opening Pandora’s Box”, in Science in Action: How To Follow Scientists & Engineers Through Society, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1987, p1-17.

Abstract

This work investigates and records the production of a digital media artwork blackBOX: Painting A Digital Picture of Documented Memory, generated through the media technologies of interactive multimedia, exploiting the creative potentials of digitally produced music, sound, image and text relationships in a disc based & online (Internet) environment. The artwork evolves from an imaginary electronic landscape that can be uniquely explored/ played in a non-sequential manner. The artwork/ game is a search for the protagonists hybrid cultural identity. This is mirrored in the exploration of random, fragmentary and non-linear experiences designed for the player engaged with the artwork. The subjective intervention of the player/ participant in the electronic artwork is metaphoric of the improvisational tendencies that have evolved in the Greek Blues (Rembetika), Jazz, and Hindustani musical and performative dance forms. The protagonist Nina’s discovery of these musical forms reveal her cultural/ spiritual origins. As a musical composer arranges notes, melodies and harmonies, and sections of instruments, so too, the multimedia producer designs a ensemble of audio-visual fragments to be navigated.

Dance also becomes a driving metaphor, analogous to the players movement in and through these passages of image/ sound/ text and as a movement between theories and ideas explored in the content of the program. The central concern is to playfully reverse, obscure, distort the look of the dominating/colonialist gaze, in the production of an interactive game and allow the girl to picture herself.

One of my objectives is to explore the ways in which social research can be undertaken by the creation of an interactive program in the computer environment utilizing interactive digital media technologies. The study reveals that, through the subjective intervention of the player/ participant (user)* with the digital artefact, a unique experience and responsiveness is produced with the open-ended text. The work is comprised of a website http://www.strangecities.net; an interactive CD-ROM; a gallery installation; digital photomedia images: and a written thesis documenting and theorising the production.

Classical Indian dance music: Bharata Natyam

Nirmal Jena & Odissi Dance Co.

* The term player/participant (user), while widely debated has been in usage from the 1980s to refer to the unique human interaction with the digital artefact, electronic screen work, and computer interface.

Read the research paper: BlackBOX : painting a digital picture of documented memory. Published University of Technology, Sydney UTS ePress Institutional Repository
Australasian Digital Thesis Program http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/dspace/handle/2100/357

Black Box interface still by Tatiana Pentes
Black Box interface still by Tatiana Pentes

WORSHIP: SCULPTURE: DANCE

Tatiana Pentes, WORSHIP SCULPTURE DANCE, Master of Art (Media Arts), CoFa, UNSW, 1995 [download paper]

Figure 1 Digital montage from A Few Small Snaps digital film artwork by Tatiana Pentes

Tatiana_AFewSmallSnaps

ABSTRACT
This study documents the production of a set of digital film artworks installed in the College of Fine Arts gallery as the culmination of the Master of Art (Film, Video, Sound, and Computing), Media Arts. The digital film artworks are comprised of : (i) Worship Sculpture Dance: Odissi : Movements in Stone, the imaging an ancient devotional classical Indian dance form Odissi, from the state of Orissa, India; (ii) Zang Tumb Tumb 1, inspired by the Futurist sound poetry of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, and the Luigi Russolo and The Art of Noise; (iii) A Few Small Snaps, the digital animation of a series of autobiographical self-portraits stimulated by a study of the Mexican self-portrait painting of Frida Kahlo; and  (iv) Strange Cities2 an interactive CD-Rom new media script. Strange Cities script (writing) has been included to the Worship Sculpture Dance study as blueprint for potential future research and development. The aim of this creative research has been to focus on new technology as a contribution to a questioning of traditional (analogue) modes of art production.

The approach has been to explore & image traditional classical Indian forms of representation (dance, choreography, & music) and to re-interpret and translate these ancient  forms  as a new form of engagement.  At the same time, the objective of this creative research has been interrogate transforming notions of the filmic, televisual, radio(audio)phonic, sonic  and the (digital) computer medium, and to investigate questions of authorship and to challenge the uniqueness of the art object. This creative work is the outcome of conceptual and art historical research, focusing on the potential of an articulation of the philosophical, historical, cultural, formal and spiritual in a digital (computer) landscape.

Technological and Conceptual Framework
These digital films that have been produced and installed in the gallery context: (i) Odissi : Movements in Stone; (ii) Zang Tumb Tumb; and (iii) A Few Small Snaps, for the Worship Sculpture Dance forming a major creative artwork exhibition.

The objective of this creative research has been to question traditional (analogue) modes of art production, and the approach has been to explore & image avant garde European sound poetry, self-portraiture and traditional classical Indian sanskrit forms (dance, choreography, and music culture) and to re-interpret and translate these (analogue) forms (using a new stylus, pen & glue-stick) and to produce a critical engagement with these representations of Other. Simultaneously, the objective has been to interrogate transforming notions of the filmic, televisual, videographic radio(audio)phonic, sonic and moving image (animation) in the (digital) computer environment; to investigate notions of ‘self’ in a cross-cultural environment; to question the Western concept of authorship and to challenge the uniqueness of the art object.

These digital film artworks have been generated in the new multi-media environment of the computer. The installation of these digital films in the gallery context has provided the context for social interaction and engagment with the artworks in the form of an exhibition. The artworks have been produced using Macintosh computer software and hardware, and the following
software digital imaging and editing programs.

Worship: Sculpture: Dance: a digital film by Tatiana Pentes: special thanks Geoffrey Weary
Worship: Sculpture: Dance: a digital film by Tatiana Pentes: special thanks Geoffrey Weary

Image 2. Digital film still Chitritta Mukerjee, Odissi Dance Company performs Konarak Kanthi at The Performance Space, Sydney 1993, by Tatiana Pentes

 

ABSENCE PRESENCE: Kotlin Island, RUSSIA

Lara O’Reilly’s ABSENCE PRESENCE installation on the Kotlin Island, St Petersburg
site specific installation 2007, International Body Navigation Festival, St Petersburg, Russia http://www.bodynavigation.ru

Text by Tatiana Pentes

“Anyone who wants can look at my films as into a mirror, in which he will see himself”
Andrei Tarkovsky

Lara O'Reilly's ABSENCE: PRESENCE installation Kronstadt, Russia
Lara O’Reilly’s ABSENCE: PRESENCE installation Kronstadt, Russia

Documentary photo Lara O’Reilly’s ABSENCE PRESENCE installation on the Kotlin Island (2007)

Lara O’Reilly’s ABSENCE PRESENCE installation on the Kotlin Island, an abandoned built and natural environment is a doorway into present and the past, and between the visible and the invisible. Upon encountering site-specific multimedia performance and moving image installation, a dialogue between the psychological states of abandonment (a remoteness) and seduction (an intimacy) is opened inside and outside the architectural spaces – mirroring our interaction as visitors/viewers with space and memory in a site-specific environment.

In the contemporary convergent global media environment of digital networked technology, and pastische, empty parody (mimicry), O’Reilly’s ABSENCE PRESENCE returns us to the traditional notion of “multi-media”, suggestive of the shadows reflected on the walls of Plato’s allegorical Cave. The spectacular installation of ABSENCE PRESENCE, is staged on three levels within the Chapel of the Naval Hospital Kronstadt, (built 1717), the earliest medical establishment in Russia.

Screenshot 2014-05-01 11.11.10

Map of St Petersburg & Kotlin Island

The Russian staging follows an Australian site-specific manifestation of the performance on the abandoned industrial Cockatoo Island, Sydney Cove. O’Reilly creates for us a highly experiential and dramatic encounter, with her spatial, temporal and theatrical exploration of the rupture/suture paradox between marine and terrestrial, past and present, the outside and inside, the remote and the intimate, of seduction and abandonment, experience and the underworld. ABSENCE PRESENCE is infused with the resonance and mystery of what we feel but cannot see.

The Kronstadt work integrates real-time and the simulated (cinematic) representations of the performances/movement of the bodies of five young contemporary Russian female dancers, professionally trained in classical western ballet and Japanese Butoh dance. The filmic (technological) cinematic sequences of the woman are juxtaposed with the live performance of female forms (reminiscent of netted mermaids) suspended in cocoons from the rafters, and released to move, dance and wander. The chrysalised women are “veiled and lit in a sensuous light, conjuring emotions of sadness, loss, loneliness and reverie and yet a gentle sense of security of our own stilled existence within the incredible space where we find ourselves..on an island….”

The installation successfully plays with our notion of place, identity, communication, sexuality, the personal and the political, specifically with the cinematic and radio-phonic allusions. The haunting tones of a live music (a cello sound piece) conjure the ghosts of the past, the dispossessed, and those who have passed from this life to the next, in these spaces, the site of the tragic and violent Kronstadt Revolution of 1921, the sailors of Kronstadt staged an uprising and issued demands for free elections. The Red Army was sent in and crushed the rebellion: thousands of people were killed.

The filmic sequences are primarily performed by O’Reilly’s Russian model /dancer/muse Olya, in the locations of Konstantin Fort; the Kronstadt Cemetery; and Summer Gardens. These cinematic performances are overlaid with film sequences of the ascending movement through the interior space of the Chapel, conjuring the bodies (victims) of the revolutions that passed through.

O’Reilly transcends this confrontation with death through her cinematic mediation and documentation of the reality of this past. She does in the articulation of her feminine subjectivity through the representation of Russian performer Olya’s presence in these spaces. These dissonant montages of film footage evoke Dziga Vertov’s Kino-Eye cinema experiments “…as slow motion vision (reading thoughts in slow motion)…The Kino-Eye is conceived as “what the eye does not see”, as the microscope and the telescope of time, as telescopic camera lenses, as the X-ray eye, …cinematic images…processes capable of revealing and showing truth.” (Written 1944). In these ‘island’ experiences, the visitor/ participant must cross a psychological threshold upon entering the work, because like Eurydice’s mythic journey to the underworld, we must re-play the allegorical journey across the river styx from the mainland onto the island and into a simulated nether-world.

This cinematic imagery is projected in the first dark room of the installation, providing a threshold between the outside (real) world and the (imaginary) dance/performance work. Upon viewing the film projections, one enters through a doorway and looking into, an interior space where lived memory is a present state.

My first collision with a previous staging of the ABSENCE PRESENCE multi-media installation in a deteriorating industrial complex, located on the isolated Cockatoo Island in Sydney Cove, Australia (the indigenous Australian Aboriginal name for this island is Wa-rea-mah). I was touched by O’Reilly’s ability to deeply engage those visiting the location. The piece resonates with the dis-location of Indigenous people during the colonial period, when their island home was transformed into a convict prison for those transported across the seas from Britain. Later this place was a colonial & industrial shipping dock.

Therein lies the connective thread – through the ghosts of the displaced – between the Cockatoo Island (Australia) and Naval Hospital Kronstadt (Russia) re-enactments. My engagement with both O’Reilly’s work and the sites are complex and intertwined. As daughter of Vladimir, an Admiral in the Tsarist Russian Navy, my grandmother Xenia emigrated from St Petersburg with her mother Eugenia & two sisters during the Revolution, they never saw Vladimir again, but found refuge in Harbin, Manchuria, then Shanghai, China & later Sydney Australia. As a child I grew up with these memories and on the Balmain peninsula, my primary school opposite Cockatoo Island.

The dialectic relationship between these two island spaces (curt by sea), both scarred by waves of industrialisation (modernity), migration, military/colonial abandonment – they share a depth of history and speak to each other, as O’Reilly’s work speaks to me (the child of a Russian émigré).

In a world saturated by mass communications delivered via mobile device, cable, PDA, Internet, television, radio, and virtual experiences, ABSENCE PRESENCE grounds the visitor through the stillness of wandering through a physical space, where live performative theatrical, musical and filmic elements are apprehended in a real time spatial location. As media consumers, we can be likened to the shackled slaves mistaking the representations/shadows on the walls of Plato’s mythical Cave as reflections of a real world. The truth is always mimetic and portrays the outlines of puppets projected from the shadows of the fire – not of the Real as articulated in Plato’s philosophical Cave myth. Illuminated from their shackles those imprisoned in the Cave raise the truth of their situation and are liberated by the light of the Sun. The simile of the Cave is apt in the contemporary context, while it needs to be complicated. The Real and the Imagined have collapsed into the Virtual. One could argue that virtual engagement is a lived and real experience, whilst mediated by digital technology. Frederic Jameson’s argument that pastische, or empty parody (mimicry) is the order of the day. Thus representations, virtual reality, 3D animations, text chats, and Internet collusion’s – in traditional media terms would be considered fake, artificial, a lie…. in post-modern terms equal a real hybrid experience.

The opposition between the artificial and the natural have also collapsed in the same way. Jean Baudrillard espouses after Jameson in his texts Simulation, and Seduction, that the post-modern condition articulated in contemporary art, technology & communications have enabled new cultural forms/practises and have influenced the way in which we view our environments. In the famous words of Jacques Derrida

“…Disenchanted simulation: pornography – truer than true – the height of the simulacrum. Enchanted simulation: the trompe-l’oeil – falser than false – the secret of appearances. Neither fable story or composition, nor theatre, scene or action. The trompe-l’oeil forgets all this and bypasses it by the low-level representation of second-rate objects. The latter figure in the great composition of the time, but here they appear alone, as though the discourse on painting had been eliminated. Suddenly they no longer represent, they are no longer objects, no longer anything. They are blank, empty signs that bespeak social, religious or artistic anti-ceremony or ant representation…they describe a void, an absence, the absence of every representational hierarchy that organizes the elements of the tableau, or for that matter political order….”

The emptying out of representation of any original meaning creates the situation of the inability to comprehend the difference between the original and the copy. Which is the fake? O’Reilly’ s installation defines a lens through which perceive nature and suggests the way in which this understanding tames ‘nature’ for us. ABSENCE PRESENCE calls attention to the way in which we think, represent and conceive of ‘the natural’ as construction site. The artificial and the natural exist in a dialectical relationship to one another and the post-modern project is to create a third term outside this dialogue produces a meaning supplementary or in excess of this duality. ABSENCE PRESENCE simultaneously explores the gender/ sexual subjectivity relationship, which can be viewed through the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud (Vienna 1930s). Freud’s theory of the ‘unconscious’ and the psyche revolutionised conceptions of human behaviour and theories of human sexuality. His posthumous text “Three essays on the Theory of Sexuality” (trans. 1949) pinpoint the significance of sexual subjectivity and factors influencing the anxiety and neurosis in the individual and the cultural. The implication being that the individual repressed experiences that were intolerable and these formed an unconscious ‘well’ of experiences that come back to haunt as memories, their very repression necessitating their return, unannounced and triggered by certain signposts and expressed in slips of the tongue, psychosis, sexual subversions, creative articulations (poetry, painting, literature etc.) or escaping as dreams and un-realised wishes…but the return of that which had been repressed particularly in childhood. ABSENCE PRESENCE is like a return of that “well” of memories re-surfacing and haunting.

Lara O’Reilly’s ABSENCE PRESENCE installation on the Kotlin Island, an abandoned built and natural environment is a doorway into present and the past, and between the visible and the invisible. Upon encountering site-specific multimedia performance and moving image installation, a dialogue between the psychological states of abandonment (a remoteness) and seduction (an intimacy) is opened inside and outside the architectural spaces – mirroring our interaction as visitors/viewers with space and memory in a site-specific environment.

“The installation was intended to be a highly experiential encounter with the space and with oneself. For the viewer to experience their own sense of the space and find themselves in a world between worlds…blurred between interior and exterior realms of built and natural spaces and the interior and exterior states of mind that the performance and the sound-scape allude to….” Lara O’Reilly artist

Absence Presence:

Кронштадт, РOССИЯ
Лара О’Релли

Acknowledgement and special thanks to all who assisted me with the making of Absence Presence: Kronstadt. I am most grateful for all your support and assistance with the project

Special thanks to:
Podberjozkin Igor Vitaljevich / Подберёзкин Игорь Витальевич –
Chief of the Naval Hospital, Kronstadt
Stupar Michael Petrovich / Ступар Михаил Петрович –
Deputy Chief of the Naval Hospital, Kronstadt
Kuzhel Alexander Michailovich / Кужель Александр Михайлович – Deputy Chief of the Naval Hospital, Kronstadt and everyone from NCCA (National Centre for Contemporary Art) St Petersburg, Russia

Valeria Korotina and Rowan Ainsworth from Australia Embassy, Moscow. Lara O’Reilly’s exhibiting of ‘Absence Presence’ in Body Navigation III is supported by the Commonwealth through the Cultural Relations Discretionary Grant Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Performer in film imagery:
Olga Amromy / Ольга Амромы

Editors:
Yuri Elik
Viola Vorobyova

Performers in installation:
Olga Amromy / Ольга Амромы
Tatjyana Luzai / Татьяна Лузай
Olga Ivanskaya / Ольга Иванская
Darjya Khlapova / Дарья Хлапова
Alexandra Aksjonova / Александра Аксёнова

Video memory of installation with assistance:
Viola Vorobyova and Anna Kolosova

Cellist:
Philip Gulidov

Prop Builder/ Install Team:
Ruslan Atrokhov / Руслан Атрохов
Alexander Stadnik / Александр Стандин
Ruslan Shohirev / Руслан Шохирев
Denis Dzubin / Денис Дзюбин

Catalogue text:
Tatiana Pentes

Assistance with Photographic documentation of installation:
Marina Goulyaeva with assistance Nikolay Vladimirsky

Quoted from http://www.laraoreilly.com/russia/

ABSENCE PRESENCE : The Body Navigation, Dance/Video/Performance/Music, 14-18 of July, 2007, St. Petersburg, RUSSIA

Lara O'Reilly's Absence/Presence Installation
Lara O’Reilly’s Absence/Presence Installation

ABSENCE PRESENCE : The Body Navigation, Dance/Video/Performance/Music, 14-18 of July, 2007, St. Petersburg, RUSSIA by Lara O’Reilly (website)

Text by Tatiana Pentes

http://www.russia.embassy.gov.au/mscw/LaraReilly.html
Lara O’Reilly, an Australian installation artist, residing at National Centre of Contemporary Art in June, 2007 and her works installed at Body Navigation III International Festival of Contemporary Arts on 14 – 18 July, 2007.

Lara O’Reilly

A film & performance installation in the Chapel of the Naval Hospital, Kronstadt, forming part of III International festival of contemporary arts, The BODY NAVIGATION, DANCE/VIDEO/PERFORMANCE/MUSIC, 14-18 of July, 2007, St. Petersburg, RUSSIA

http://www.bodynavigation.ru/en/about/

“Anyone who wants can look at my films as into a mirror, in which he will see himself.” Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, p. 184.

“The installation was intended to be a highly experiential encounter with the space and with oneself. For the viewer to experience their own sense of the space and find themselves in a world between worlds…blurred between interior and exterior realms of built and natural spaces and the interior and exterior states of mind that the performance and the soundscape allude to….” Lara O’Reilly artist

In the contemporary convergent global media environment of digital networked technology, and pastische, empty parody (mimicry), O’Reilly’s ABSENCE PRESENCE returns us to the traditional notion of “multi-media”, suggestive of the shadows reflected on the walls of Plato’s allegorical Cave. The spectacular installation of ABSENCE PRESENCE, is staged on three levels and Chapel of the Naval Hospital, Kronstadt, Kotlin Island, Russia, 48km east of St Petersberg. The naval hospital was built 1717, and is the site of the earliest medical establishment in Russia. The Russian staging follows an Australian site-specific manifestation of the performance on the abandoned industrial Cockatoo Island, Sydney Cove.

O’Reilly creates for us a highly experiential and dramatic encounter, with her spatial, temporal and theatrical exploration of the rupture/suture paradox between marine and terrestrial, past and present, the outside and inside, the remote and the intimate, of seduction and abandonment, experience and the underworld. ABSENCE PRESENCE is infused with the resonance and mystery of what we feel but cannot see. In Lara’s words:

….[I felt] Kronstadt should have a very slowed choreographed movement piece. There was something about the spaces of the Chapel, the ascending movement through the spaces –I imagined that while the viewer ascended through the space, that they passed through these empty spaces as a slowed dance, a rhymic and sensual play between their own existence in the space and the lived memory of the place, a Chapel that functioned as a final farewell for the recently departed…”

The Kronstadt work integrates realtime and the simulated (cinematic) representations of the performances/movement of the bodies of five young contemporary Russian female dancers, professionally trained in classical western ballet and Japanese Butoh dance. The filmic (technological) cinematic sequences of the woman are juxtaposed with the live performance of female forms (reminiscent of netted mermaids) suspended in cocoons from the rafters, and released to move, dance and wander. The chrysalised women are “veiled and lit in a sensuous light, conjuring emotions of sadness, loss, loneliness and reverie and yet a gentle sense of security of our own stilled existence within the incredible space where we find ourselves..on an island….” The installation successfully plays with our notion of place, identity, communication, sexuality, the personal and the political, specifically with the cinematic and radiophonic allusions. The haunting tones of a live music (a cello sound piece) conjure the ghosts of the past, the dispossessed, and those who have passed from this life to the next, in these spaces, the site of the Kronstadt Revolution in the Finnish Gulf. Ironically, the waters off Kotlin Island are also the location of a modern tragic ship collision and indeed the invention of radio-location after Alexander Popov, the lauded Russian scientist (reported to have invented radio).

The filmic sequences are primarily performed by O’Reilly’s Russian model /dancer/muse Olya, in the locations of Konstantin Fort; the 300 year old Kronstadt Cemetery; and Summer Gardens. These cinematic performances are overlayed with film sequences of the ascending movement through the interior space of the Chapel and military hospital (closed in 2005), conjuring the bodies (victims) of the revolutions that passed through.

ABSENCE PRESENCE installation Kronstadt Island RUSSIA

My first collision with a previous staging of the ABSENCE PRESENCE multi-media installation in a deteriorating industrial complex, located on the isolated Cockatoo Island in Sydney Cove, Australia (the indigenous Australian Aboriginal name for this island is Wa-rea-mah). I was touched by her ability to deeply engage those visiting the location. The piece resonates with the dis-location of Indigenous people during the colonial period, when their island home was transformed into a convict prison for those transported across the seas from Britain. Later this place was a colonial & industrial shipping dock.

Therein lyes the connective thread – through the ghosts of the displaced – between the Cockatoo Island (Australia) and Naval Hospital Kronstadt (Russia) re-enactments. My engagement with both O’Reilly’s work and the sites are complex and intertwined. As daughter of Vladimir, a Admiral in the Tsarist Russian Navy, my grandmother Xenia emigrated from St Petersberg with her mother Eugenia & two sisters during the Revolution, they never saw Vladimir again, but found refuge in Harbin, Manchuria, then Shanghai, China & later Sydney Australia. As a child I grew up with these memories and on the Balmain peninsula, my primary school opposite Cockatoo Island.

The dialectic relationship between these two island spaces (curt by sea), both scarred by waves of industrialisation (modernity), migration, military/colonial abandonment – they share a depth of history and speak to each other, as O’Reilly’s work speaks to me (the child of a Russian émigré).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

ABSENCE PRESENCE installation cockatoo island

When encountering Lara O’Reilly’s multi-media installation I was touched by the work’s ability to deeply engage those visiting the location – a deteriorating industrial complex located on an isolated island in Sydney Cove. The indigenous Australian Aboriginal name for this place is Wa-rea-mah, and these people were dis-located during the colonial period, when their home was transformed into a convict prison for those transported across the seas from Britain. Later this place was a colonial & industrial shipping dock. The work resonates with ghosts of the displaced. As visitors/participants in O’Reilly’s work we must replicate the journey [across the river styx] from the mainland and step over a psychological threshold to apprehend the installation. Dissonant digital film/video imagery of a woman walking through spaces of ‘nature’ and water are projected on multiple screens within the massive space, juxtaposed with female forms (reminiscent of mermaids) suspended in silken cocoons from the rafters. The haunting tones of a live cello sound piece, conjure the ghosts of the past, the dispossessed, those incarcerated, and mingling with the feathers from a million birds and industrial detritus.

absence presence installation cockatoo island

A site-specific performance and moving image installation infused with the resonance and mystery of what we feel but cannot see. It is a meditation on space and memory and the ways in which the two constantly interact at specific sites. Composing filmic worlds moving between the abandoned architecture of Cockatoo Island and the remote Australian bush and how this collision of built and natural worlds can mediate between the present and the past – between the visible and the invisible. Rooms with suspended female bodies, veiled and lit in a sensuous light, conjuring emotions of sadness, loss, loneliness and reverie and yet a gentle sense of security and of our own stilled existence within the incredible space where we find ourselves.. on an uninhabited abandoned island that is richly embedded with the history of our colonial and distant past.

“The installation was intended to be a highly experiential encounter with the space and with oneself. For the viewer to experience their own sense of the space and find themselves in a world between worlds…blurred between interior and exterior realms of built and natural spaces and the interior and exterior states of mind that the performance and the soundscape allude to…. Above all it was to be enjoyed and to be taken on a journey to a faraway place…” Lara O’Reilly artist

Special thanks: Geoffrey Weary