In a time of global lockdown, Kaldor Public Art Project 36: do it (australia) invites audiences to follow an artist’s instructions, enter their world and realise an artwork of their own. do it (australia) is co-curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist and John Kaldor, with Emily Sullivan (Curator) and Monique Leslie Watkins.
This project is the latest incarnation of do it, the longest-running and most far-reaching artist-led project in the world. Initiated by Hans Ulrich Obrist in 1993, the project asks artists to create simple instructions that generate an artwork, whether an object, a performance, an intervention, or something else entirely.
Find yourself alone in a place. Play some music (or not). Stand, sit or lie down. Find a position you feel comfortable in. Be still for a while. Imagine you are surrounded by blinding light. It feels heavy. You want to break through. Use as many parts of your body (or not) to physically push the light away from you. Take your time. Move from a gentle state, to a state of frenzy. Explore different possibilities with your body. There is no right or wrong. When you feel you have broken through the light, find your way back to stillness. A state of weightlessness (or not).
Explore this task anywhere by yourself for yourself.
Place your smartphone camera anywhere to record your experience using the slo-mo option.
Share a section of the film on social media, send it to a friend, (or not).
Rafael Bonachela is a choreographer working across art forms, including contemporary dance, art installations, film and fashion. His appointment as Artistic Director of Sydney Dance Company in 2009 made international headlines and heralded a new era in Australian contemporary dance. His vision embraces a guiding principle that sees works commissioned by Australian and international choreographers alongside his own critically acclaimed creations.
Spanish-born Bonachela’s work is strong, sober and sharp. The exploration of pure movement is where he finds his unmistakable style. The result is incandescent dance that springs from the power of movement, where energy and muscle strength combine with great emotional sensitivity.
Recipe Piece (2020)
Chop the ends off a cucumber. Place one end in the middle of your forehead. Place the other onto your lover’s forehead. The ends are now the beginnings. Keep chopping the cucumber.
The piece ends and begins when the cucumber piece falls off.
Starting with a score, Lauren Brincat’s practice explores non-verbal modes of expression through narratives or ideas. Distancing us from logical, language-based understanding, Brincat’s work opens the door to multiple perspectives and interpretations. Dancing between sound sculpture and performance installation, her most recent works challenge the way we hear, see and think about feminist performance.
During lockdown her kitchen has become her studio where she writes, dances and makes challah for the neighbourhood.
Write a list of every word you know for water:
Salt water, fresh water, river water, brackish water, surface water, deep water etc.
Ask your friends and family to add to the list.
Remember the last time you felt your favourite body of water, feel these sensations again.
Learn to speak the words for your favourite body of water in three languages.
Megan Cope is a Quandamooka (North Stradbroke Island, south east Queensland) artist. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. Cope’s work often resists prescribed notions of Aboriginality, and examines psychogeographies that challenge the grand narrative of ‘Australia’ and our sense of time and ownership in a settler colonial state. These explorations result in various material outcomes. She is a member of Aboriginal art collective proppaNOW.
Care disfigurements: instructions for a simple email performance (2020)
Brian Fuata works in the improvisation of live performance and objects, exploiting the image of the ghost as a narrative structuring device. He employs multiple registers of performance and public speaking with an aim to transform site and location, body and presence, into a dumb zone of dramatic affects.
Sealed underneath the road, out the front of where I live, used to be a creek bed. And in the park behind the houses at the end of the road is where water still likes to lie. Make visible the water story of the land where you live.
Dale Harding is interested in generative practices and constructive modes of resistance that are intended to contribute to the cultural continuums of Aboriginal diaspora. Harding’s research seeks to prioritise, embed and consolidate inherited oral, social and visual sensibilities of Bidjara, Garingbal and Ghungalu peoples. By prioritising visual languages that predate his contemporary art practice, Harding seeks to extend the cultural forms and practices of his personal and ancestral lineages.
Make a circle from nature Step into the circle Make a wish
Saskia Havekes is an internationally acclaimed florist and author: drama, scale and sensual depth are her signatures.
Grandiflora was established in Sydney in 1995. Groaning to the rafters with dramatic vegetation and luxurious blooms, this tiny space was the modest launching pad for a new way of looking at foliage, buds and branches. The Grandiflora aesthetic has influenced interior styling, hospitality, fashion, editorial and even the modern rituals of giving and displaying flowers. Baby pineapples, pods, gum nuts and lotus blossoms are now the modern way to honour, court and celebrate, giving license to the traditionally tightly bound bouquet to break free.
Precedent piece (2020)
Your spine Your head - your phone. The dread. Your neurosis, the will.
One at a time.
Let the changer love the changed.
(Rotate and keep holding one of them for good measure)
Amrita Hepi (Bundjulung/Ngāpuhi territories) is an artist working with dance and choreography through video, the social function of performance spaces, installation and objects. Utilising hybridity and the extension of choreographic or performative practices, Hepi creates work that considers the body’s relationship to personal histories and the archive. Her practice engages in a wide range of themes including the ouroboros, the “itness” of a thing, violence, magpies, magic, touch, doom, spectacle, the idea of “make-believe” and the uncanny.
do it (turn crying into acting) (2020)
It’s a day of the week, you’re crying there’s reason/no reason, irrelevant a quick way to capitalise on those tears
sit down, put your right hand on the left side of your neck and close your eyes turn your head slowly to the left, open your eyes and gaze into the distance, or at the wall turn your head back and pick up a soft object, something that won’t break rotate it slowly with your fingers smile a little as if it’s reminded you of something pleasant
now throw it across the room! jump up and run to the sink, or a table, or the back of your couch put your hands on the edge, lean forward throw your head back and wail!
now turn around, run your hand from the crown of your head down to the nape of your neck moving forward until your fingers rest lightly on your jawline sing the opening line of Celine Dion’s ‘it’s all coming back to me now’
THERE WERE NIGHTS WHEN THE WIND WAS SO COLD
melody and pitch are not important only that it’s loud take a breath sit back down resume life
Julia Jacklin is an Australian singer-songwriter from the Blue Mountains. Jacklin has released two studio albums Don’t Let The Kids Win (2016) and Crushing (2019). Her storytelling centres on bodies, crossed boundaries and smothering closeness, often underpinned by her playful, observational wit.
untitled (yungi) (2020)
find a stone that fits comfortably in your hand. rub the stone on a hard surface e.g. concrete or rock. continue to rub, if necessary find a new stone, until you create a groove in the hard surface.
Jonathan Jones is a Sydney-based artist and a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south east Australia. Jones works across a range of mediums to create site-specific installations and public artworks that explore Aboriginal practices, relationships and ideas. Jones often uses everyday or found materials in his practice. He repurposes these materials to explore relationships between community and the individual, the personal and public, historical and contemporary. Jones’ work strives to champion local knowledge systems, is grounded in research of the historical archive and builds on community aspirations.
Janet Laurence is a leading Sydney-based artist who exhibits nationally and internationally. Her practice examines our physical, cultural and conflicting relationships to the natural world. She creates immersive environments that navigate the interconnections between organic elements and systems of nature. Within the recognised threat of climate change she explores what it might mean to heal the natural environment, fusing this with a sense of communal loss and search for connection with powerful life-forces.
Understand your culture 1: Count the ads (2020)
Using your mobile phone, photograph every single advertisement you encounter in any media in a day.
Continue for a week.
Distribute the resulting photographs through whatever distribution forms are available to you, for example as albums on social media, as an exhibition, as a print publication.
Count the daily and weekly totals and totals in different categories.
Communicate with others to compile and compare your totals.
As one of Australia’s first conceptual artists, Ian Milliss’ early 1970s participatory works soon led to a practice based on the premise that the artist’s role is to generate cultural change rather than manufacture content for the art industry. He has since worked with many progressive social and political groups and mostly with audiences outside the art world, ranging from urban activism and unionism to innovative agriculture. He argues that currently the most culturally significant activities are not recognised as art, are done by people who don’t call themselves artists, and will only be categorised as art in retrospect.
Work mindlessly on your current creation.
For enjoyment disregard it and waste your time by looking at other more talented artists’ work and read about them and watch documentaries about them.
As your creation is near completion abandon it and forget about it for a long time.
When you return to your creation you won’t recognise it and you will think that an unknown talented artist made the work and that you are in a documentary.
This phenomenon will delight you.
Tracey Moffatt is one of Australia’s most renowned contemporary artists. Working predominantly in photography and film for over three decades, Moffatt is a powerful visual storyteller. The narrative is often implied and self-referential, exploring her own childhood memories and fantasies, and broader issues of race, gender, sexuality and identity. Moffatt has held over 100 solo exhibitions of her work in Europe, the United States and Australia. Her films have been screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the Dia Centre for the Arts in New York and the National Centre for Photography in Paris. Moffatt represented Australia at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.
Glenn Murcutt AO is one of Australia’s most recognised architects and the only Australian recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize (2002). Remaining a sole practitioner since establishing his practice in 1969, Murcutt developed a patient and refined approach to architecture early in his career. A dedication to vernacular and sustainable design has led to an identifiable aesthetic. Murcutt’s repeated use of slim structures and manipulation of materials are designed to be responsive to wind patterns and sunlight for passive cooling and heating. His practice is a harmonious blend of modernist sensibility, local craftsmanship, Indigenous structures and a deep respect and understanding of the natural environment.
Gerald Murnane is the author of thirteen works of fiction, including the internationally acclaimed novel The Plains and most recently A Season on Earth, as well as a memoir, a collection of essays and a volume of poetry. He has won the Patrick White Award, the Melbourne Prize for Literature, an Adelaide Festival Award, a Victorian Premier’s Literary Award and, for Border Districts, a Prime Minister’s Literary Award. Murnane lives in Goroke, in western Victoria.
Pick any physical container that has a door and make a sign that says ‘1993’*
Make it speak to your own graphic proclivities
Flood the space with 1993
Fill it any way that moves you
As a former smoker, 1993 will breathe easier with a plant near the entrance
On a whim, set your alarm to 3am. Wear a robe, or something more difficult-to-define, like atmosphere
Approach the closed-door and lean into the sign. Be open to finding it contains an oceanic state
With your cheek pressed, you might hear the imprint of an eternity. Hold the suggestion longer
At some point you might lose access, your lease may expire, or you’ll be otherwise dispossessed of 1993. When that time comes, donate the plant to science fiction
*It may help to think of 1993 freely as a variable for any number at all; a measure, a calendar year, a hotel room…
nova Milne is a two-person artist.
Drawing on an intimately negotiated language, they make moving images, video-sculptures and restorative actions. These may be an assemblage of gestures, dance, or re-animated encounters that transgress time. Their process often begins with the feeling that something found; a recording, a piece of biographical ephemera, or some micro-historical minutia, is emitting an urgent plasticity.
Mental Floss 777 (2020)
As a nucleus determines the outer shell of an entity, Mental Floss 777 opens a door for the willing to tune into and stimulate their inner self. Fortifying one’s often hidden and sometimes ignored inner self to promote moments of affection.
Mental Floss 777’s inspiration is derived from Rumi’s text works and will require the participant to select and perform one of the seven listed quotes by reciting it for seven minutes, over a seven-day continuous cycle.
7 Quotes – 7 Minutes – 7 Days
Find a quiet and uncluttered room corner in your home. Please reuse this same space over the seven days.
Have ready a domestic bath or shower towel to sit on.
Sit on the ground in a comfortable position facing the room corner, about one metre away.
Select and recite one of the seven quotes listed below, repeat slowly while listening to your breathing, do this for seven minutes.
Repeat steps 1 through 4, selecting a different quote for each remaining day.
Let your teacher be love itself.
Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.
When you lose all sense of self, the bonds of a thousand chains will vanish.
Silence gives answers. Let silence take you to the core of life.
Let silence be the art you practise. Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there.
What you seek is seeking you. Let the beauty we love be what we do.
You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.
Jalal Al Din Muhammad Rumi was a 13th century Islamic poet, scholar and Sufi mystic. His influence transcends borders, cultures and divisions and for over eight centuries his writing continues to be deeply appreciated and loved by people throughout the world.
Khaled Sabsabi migrated with his family to Australia in 1978. In 2002 he travelled back to Lebanon and the surrounding regions for the first time. This extended travel period became a significant moment in his career, forcing him to question, rethink and redefine his practice. Sabsabi is a multi-media and site-specific installation artist. His process and practice involve working across art mediums, geographical borders and cultures to create immersive and engaging art experiences that question the rationales and complexities of nationhood, identity and change. For Sabsabi, art is an effective tool to communicate with people through a familiar language.
open a clear space to be upright and soft in your body. notice your breath and let your thoughts fall away freely.
take your focus to your navel. imagine your umbilical cord inverted, gently pulling you backwards, making you walk or traverse a slow circle around yourself. you are moving at 1mm per second.
recite aloud your genealogy. say your name. name your siblings. name your parents and their siblings. name your grandparents and so on. let them pass you.
complete a full circle to close.
FACE THE PAST AND BACK INTO THE FUTURE
Latai Taumoepeau makes live art. She has mimicked, trained in and un-learned dance in multiple institutions of learning, starting with her village, a suburban church hall, a few nightclubs and a university. Her body-centred performance practice of faivā centres Tongan philosophies of relational space and time; cross-pollinating ancient and everyday temporal practice to make visible the impact of climate crisis in the Pacific.
In the near future she will return to her ancestral home and continue the ultimate faivā of sea voyaging and celestial navigation before she becomes an ancestor.
Thom van Dooren
A snail walk (2020)
Stand in a quiet spot with your eyes closed; snails cannot see or hear. Slowly place one foot directly in front of the other, heel to toe. Walk in a straight line for four steps, up the trunk of the tree. Place your next step 45 degrees to the right; you’re moving out onto a branch. Continue on this trajectory for two more paces. Your next step should be 45 degrees to the left; you’re heading vertical again. Follow this line for three more steps. Rest here for a moment.
Then, turn on the spot and retrace your steps home, back down the tree. Four steps down, back the way you came. 45 degrees to the right for three steps. 45 degrees to the left for the final four steps. You should be where you began.
You have just traced, roughly to scale, the nightly foraging route of the Hawaiian tree snail Achatinella apexfulva. From its shady resting place in a knot on the trunk of a tree, perhaps shared with several other snails during the warm daylight hours, up into the branches. Rather than eating the leaves, you grazed on the fungi and other microorganisms that line the surface of the plant – cleaning as you went.
In 2018, the last individual of Achatinella apexfulva died in captivity. For countless generations up until this time, tens of thousands, perhaps millions, of these snails performed this nightly journey.
Standing once again in your home place, contemplate. How many other paths through the world have been lost forever? How many more are disappearing in our present time? How might they be summoned up, acknowledged and remembered?
Thom van Dooren is a field philosopher and storyteller. He is the author of several books that explore human entanglements with threatened species and places, including The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds (2019) and Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (2014). He is currently completing work on a book and several other creative projects centred on the disappearing land snails of Hawai’i. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and a Professor II at the University of Oslo.
Major Project Partner
Bloomberg Philanthropies is committed to supporting cultural institutions and empowering artists across the physical and digital worlds. Kaldor Public Art Projects is grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for its support of this project, the tenth commission generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Kaldor Public Art Projects is proud that do it (australia) is supported by founding patrons The Balnaves Foundation and Naomi Milgrom Foundation. Their long-term support has allowed Kaldor Public Art Projects to continue through its 50th anniversary and beyond.
The NSW Government continues to provide invaluable support through Create NSW.