Friday, September 30, 2005

The Dutch

The Dutch came into our lives last week. It might have been Wednesday. We were fiddling about in the gallery not achieving very much, so we decided to go out to eat. Elka took us around to the cyclone cafe, at the far end of Parap village. We left all our computers sitting there, and locked up the gallery. Steve said if anyone came to see the show, he'd open up for them and keep an eye on our equipment. When we returned from lunch, there they were. The Dutch.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Farewell Croc Land

We've come to our last day of a short 'residency' in Darwin at 24HR Art. Everyone else except Hayley and Elka are in the gallery working on copying CDs and DVDs of documentation and their works made during their stay. Tzu Nyen arrived this morning from Singapore. He too was interrogated by the Australian immigration officers. He went through nearly the same ordeal as Lina and Jason ..except he wasn't locked up in the interview room. They went through all his stuff in his baggage including his film. Tzu Nyen was kind of disappointed that they didn't comment on his film.

We will miss everyone at 24HR Art, the Dutch girls and not forgetting all the warm and friendly people we met in Darwin.
Thanks to our tour agents; Elka, Hayley, Steve, Jan, Max for taking time and the effort to organise sight seeing; boat trips and tours, Op shopping, barbeques etc. Was great to spend a day at beautiful Corroboree Creek and the boat ride on Jan's katamaran was fantastic! Glad to have seen 'Sweetheart', the infamous and legendary croc being exhibited at the NT museum.

Am really happy that we've made new contacts in the two weeks duration of FS and hopefully in the near future, we can work more directly with the contacts.

coffee stains in bed

Thursday, nine am.

Each morning I set my alarm for 730 or eight. The idea is that I'll get up and do some study. I have discovered that the only way I can study here is to sneak out of bed early, before the others wake up, tiptoe to the kitchen, and make myself a pot of black coffee. While the coffee is on the stove, I put on two slices of toast. Just before the it pops up, the coffee boils, and I take it off the element. Then, almost immediately, the toast pops. I butter it with vegemite, pour two cups of black coffee, stir sugar into one of them, balance the whole ensemble on a dinner plate, and go back to the air conditioned bedroom. Jason is still sleeping. My clatter makes him stir, however, and he opens his eyes a crack, laughs quietly in that way that he does and says “I smell coffee!” “Wake up and smell it,” I say. Thankfully, this is probably the lamest joke I'll tell all day.

Two days ago, during this routine, I tipped over my cup of coffee on the bed. A powerful brown stain streaked across the sheet and seeped through to the mattress. I took off the sheet and put it on to soak downstairs, in a bucket next to the washing machine. Jason helped me lean the mattress outside to get some sun.

I'm onto my second piece of toast. Soon I will have to stop this and get on and study instead.

Jason has just sat up in bed. He's looking a bit bewildered, and rubbing his face. He was working later than me, sitting up in bed on his side editing videos of small curious movements he's shot here in Darwin. Of all of us, you could say that he's been the most prolific during our stay. He looks at his mobile phone. Probably sending his wife a text message. But it's hard to tell, he could be making a short movie of the opposite corner of the room.

Slowly, Jason gets up. He puts on some shorts and leaves the room. When he returns, he starts taking off his pillow case. He reaches for a sip of coffee. Today is Thursday. We get new linen today. I close my computer and strip the one remaining sheet from my bed.

Alec Fong Lim!!

Alec Fong Lim AM (1931-1990)
First Australian Chinese Lord Mayor, elected in Darwin in 1984 and again in 1988 and made an enormous contribution to the city he loved.

All you wanted to know (except the juicy bits about him having a heart attack from chasing his secretary around the office) are at

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

the air in darwin

Tuesday, nine am. I'm just about to head back to the air-con-bedroom with a coffee when I bump into a woman in the hostel kitchen. She's a job search broker from New Zealand. She's doing her washing up from breakfast. She asks me if I've “seen everything there is to see in Darwin”.

No, not really, I say. I think of the crocodile farm, the cyclone simulator at the museum, fishing boats down at the harbour, trips to Litchfield, etc etc. People say you should see them, but we haven't done these things, and we're running out of time. Two weeks is not enough for Darwin.

There's not very much to do here, is there? she says. And the heat. Your hair is constantly dripping: drip drip drip drip drip I can't stand it. You just never get comfortable.

She is a large woman. She's probably having a hard time of it. I sympathise with her about the sweat. The air in Darwin is like a gentle sauna. I feel moisture in every crevice. The back of my neck where my collar touches the skin has developed a stinging roughness which I can feel with my fingers, but I can't see it in the mirror. Is this “heat rash”?

* * * * *

A few days after we got here, I had two insect bites which developed into small wounds on my right arm. They oozed a clear pus which, left alone, dried out to form a small hard cap on the raised pinch of skin. This scab-cap felt good to touch, and I would subconsciously finger it, often accidentally knocking it off, releasing more liquid and starting the cycle over again. It became almost meditative: I worried at my bites the way some men stroke their beards when they are thinking. After a week, the bites healed up. Since then I've been trying to stop myself scratching. I know it's not a good idea.

Jason, on the other hand, continues to be attacked by some sort of blood sucking insect. His legs below the knee are dotted and crusted with bites. He rubs on tea tree ointment several times a day. It smells nice.

* * * * *

We're all working on computers here. Five laptops networked with bright blue cables on a low bench in the gallery.

The only one without is Hayley. She has her sewing machine. I envy her. She seems free. Her cute portable Elna is just a tool. It does things for you when you set it up right. She has repaired the split in the seat of my trousers. She's taking up the legs of Elka's too. She chats away while she works. She's really here, in the room. Her machine does not pretend to be a portal to the outside world.

The rest of us sit in silence for hours tapping away on who knows what.

Last night while we were working on our computers, Julie sent Lina an “instant messenger” message. They were sitting, facing each other, less than forty centimetres separating their faces. Julie just wanted to say hi.

It was a mistake to bring computers. We need them too much.

* * * * *

A man came into the gallery last night, while our heads were buried in screens. I think he was what people call a “long-grasser”. Introduced himself as a “bushman.” He rides horses. He ducked under the open rollerdoor and sat down. He looked confused. “What do you call these? Computers?” he asked. “Can they talk to you?”

No, Julie said, they don't talk.

But, in fact, they do. They sit between us and talk to us, one on one. They are our pets. They crave our attention. They do whatever they can to get it.

Eventually, the long-grasser freaks out. He springs to his feet and points at Julie's screen. He's seen the Fusion Strength logo – which is the orange and black symbol used to denote nuclear power. It reminds him of “back home”, in South Australia, and he can't handle it.

He asks us for two dollars to get a bus. “I'm frightened”, he keeps saying. I don't give him anything, but the others chip in. He takes his coins and disappears into the night.

* * * * *

A fog of “elsewhere” rises into the humidity in the gallery. Where are we? At least the heat gives some clue. If the space were air conditioned, we could be anywhere. But here we are, late September 2005, sitting in the Darwin suburb of Parap, with a fortnight prised from our busy lives, in a makeshift office.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Thumb Printing Department & Water Torture Chamber

The participants then got directed to the 'waiting room' where Hayley got their thumb print on a small square piece of cloth which got stitched onto their clothing. In the 'Water Torture Chamber', Elka filled cold soda water in ziplock bags, handed goggles and poking instruments to the participants and made them drink the water lying down.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

click here for Mary River

Door Bitch & Black Threads

About 24 people walked into 24HR Art last Saturday. They were drawn into being participants of the performance which went on for about 2 hours. The artists each played different roles - Jason unravelled a ball of black thread in the duration of the performance. Lina, the door bitch stood at the entrance asking people who walked in a list of questions. Each of the particpants got a stamp on their arms with text 'Go to Interview', 'Entry Denied', 'ok' or 'Welcome'.

Friday, September 23, 2005

It's Friday!

We all did our own individual work for a bit and as a group, discussed what we plan to do for tomorrow's performance. It's going to be exciting.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Boat Trip

Yesterday afternoon we all left the gallery early to go on a boat trip. It was Jan & Chris' katamaran. Nice boat with a cosy cabin. Jan and Chris took us out to sea..where we could see Darwin city and it's shores, mangrove swamps, old wrecked boats and white pelicans. Steve brought prawns, beer and champagne.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Toad Talk movie test

Have a look at Jason's movie Toad Talk.

Barbie at the lodge

We left the gallery around 7pm last night. Hayley drove us to the shops to get food for the barbeque which we organised at the lodge. We invited a few friends. The sunset was beautiful yesterday evening.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

lakes, beaches, wallabies, sea-shells, snakes and other stuff

Last night, after we left the gallery, we headed to an Italian for pizzas. Elka then took us to East Point. We searched for wallabies but couldn't see any. We saw snakes instead and picked shells and stones on the beach. Today, Elka, Lucas and Jason went to the gallery much earlier than me and Lina.
Hayley and Lucas had a go with the sewing machine. We had two guests from Holland who are artists. We showed them our works. It's been a great week:) Getting more and more interesting each day discovering new things about the artists, places we went and food we ate. Oh, we all had lunch at the Cyclone Cafe in Parap this afternoon. Food was pretty yummy there. Burritos, chicken & salad sandwiches, choc fudge cake..hmm mm:p

Jason's Rough Cut

click here for ToadTalk
click here for PoolElka
click here for ElkaPool2

Opportunity shopping

Today Hayley took the FS 'tourists' Op shopping around the city. We went to a couple. Jason got a ball of black thread. Lucas got building blocks, plastic apron and sewing patterns. Hayley got a painting. Lina got a plastic container for tit bits. I got an inflattable croc, an Australian guide book and some incense sticks. Elka brought in lots of stuff from home like mousetraps, fake flowers, small potted plants, straws, cotton balls, a plastic watering can, a cute pencil sharpener, etc.

We also visited Hayley's work place; DVAA [Darwin Visual Arts Association] which was right in town. Small gallery in there called 'Wood Street Gallery'. We had lunch after at her friend's cafe in town and also visited Burnett House - heritage building managed by The National Trust's Cultural Heritage.

I thought Hayley played the role of a Tour Agent well for FS. She's a great salesperson too :-)

Lucas, Elka and Steve has gone to play tennis. Me, Lina and Jason are in the gallery working on our laptops.

Monday, September 19, 2005

FS05 workspace, studio, lab, relax corner, etc..

gday from lucas

Enjoying Darwin. Had to slow down a bit to cope. We have set up a lifestyle pad here in the gallery, complete with lounge, kitchen, media lab, music corner, and sewing sweatshop. Come to think of it the whole thing is a sweatshop.

FS'05 = 24HR Art, Darwin

FS'05 = 24hr Art, Darwin
from 16 - 30 September 2005
at 24Hr Art, Darwin

Elka Kerkhofs, Hayley West, Jason Lim, Juliana Yasin, Lina Adam, Lucas Ihlein

Fusion Strength as a project began by seeking to address and invigorate various links / networks by advocating contact and process above product. It has had the opportunity of testing itself at two different places, namely Singapore and Indonesia, where assumptions were put to the test and barriers were broken. FS (in short) has affronted each of the artists' immediacy, inventiveness and resoluteness of engaging with the various issues put forth by FS as a project. Primarily, FS still seeks to create a room for further growth within the discourse of performance by utilising 'intervention' and 'collaboration' as modus operandi.

Retaining the basic structure of FS; a systematic cycle where a group of artists responds / interacts / intervenes with previous groups' installation and performance, FS: Darwin is where an expansion or concentration on FS core structure occurs, as time and resources have always been an issue. Contact with foreign artists and collaboration time is limited much less an ongoing dialogue on practise, methods and an objective assessment of the collaborative enterprise. With this in mind, we are proposing at a single already existing component within FS framework to extrapolate Fusion Strength's system of responses.

Fusion Strength at 24hrt Art, Darwin will be entitled as FS'05 = 24hr Art, Darwin. An equation. The titling refers to a symbiotic relationship between a project and a space/place, which is in effect, a partnership that equals each other in an atmosphere of equal giving and taking.

Travelling, is FS'05 = 24hr Art, Darwin's subtext. It is not a theme. It is rooted in the very act of travelling. Be it Singaporean artists travelling to Darwin, Australia and coming into contact and context with Australia's Northern Territory Darwin artistic community. Or, the Australian artists very journey of meeting someone new. Removed from their comfort zones, what happens when artists from different countries and with etc, etc, interact and attempt a collaboration?

FS'05 = 24hr Art, Darwin, is an intense and fruitful project for all. For Darwin, we are proposing shorter cyclic system of collaboration, intervention and performance.

A fusion. Not fusion food! But the fusion of art, ideas, art practises and art approaches. Fusion Strength is as the title suggests a fusion of strengths.

It is an adventure for the participating artists and equally for the audiences. Amalgamating strengths, rooted within these three notions; collaboration, intervention and performance and its discourse, FS (Fusion Strength) is a heady mix. A Singaporean blend concocted by Juliana Yasin, its initiator and artist, has proved remarkably successful in Singapore (26 May – 13 April 2001) and Indonesia (20 Jan – 20 Feb 2003). FS'05, NOW, makes its round in Australia.

FS humble beginning is an inquiry into the many question marks, commas, what ifs and in between spaces of an artist's life and art practise, namely Juliana Yasin's very own. This search for an approach that seeks an open and mutual parting and exchange of knowledge and ideas became its driving force. Fusion Strength is about collaborating through intervention and performance. At the heart of it is the artist’s own interests and practises. FS creates a situation where time and other factors are taken into consideration, yet what ultimately surfaces is an Artists' resolve, creativity and inventiveness to various problems that arises within FS.

FS is structured around the idea that an art practise is organic and rhizoid. It is a living organism that breathes, expands and contracts, and grows.

FS'05 subtext is travelling (tourist/agent). It is not a theme. It is a strategy where each of the participating artists has already considered the subtext with regards to their own practise or possibly in the very act of travelling itself. Execution of the project begins by a Singaporean artist selecting an Australian counterpart forming a single cell. Each cell will then be given the opportunity to work together (pre and on site) but nothing is made nor prepared before arrival at Darwin. At 24Hr Art is where it all sets into motion. Tapping into the community and Darwin, the first cell will work towards a piece that will take form in any shape or form (Installation, performance or otherwise) the cell decides it to be. This work, then, could be altered in any way by another cell, based on a planned schedule. Three cycles of actions then form for FS in Darwin, Cells A to C, with three outcomes. All potentially beguiling.

This structure was also introduced in Indonesia but with a larger number of artists. Managing such an enterprise proved to be difficult, thus, in 2005 the numbers are cut back.

A chaotic experience ensues within the gallery. The fresh white walls of a gallery space then become a conference room, an archive, a workspace, a performance space, a studio, a lab, a gathering spot for these cells to interact, intervene, and perform in. What and where could be more explosive than six artists given the creative freedom, the space and time to collaborate?

Fusion Strength is where you will find such an experience.