|Daniel Kok, BUNNY, Campbelltown Arts Centre |
photo Chris Frape
Two hours disappear quickly in BUNNY, a bondage-performance event in which desire hums beneath explorations of trust, consent, collective responsibility, spectatorship, sexuality and power.
We find Luke George and Daniel Kok in the middle of a wide aquamarine floor, various objects positioned around them—vacuum cleaner, fire extinguisher, pot plant. All the objects are decoratively bound in brightly coloured rope. George ties more ropes in intricate knots around Kok’s body and attaches them to a ring that dangles overhead. He slings Kok over so that he is floating, horizontal, and guides him into a gentle spin. Then flicking his deliciously long macraméd hair to the other side of his head, he says to us, “Let’s keep him spinning.”
In an instant we are participants. We have agency and responsibility. After taking turns at venturing into the space to give Kok’s spinning form a push, audience members are enlisted to help untie him, then tie George up and allow themselves too to be tied in increasingly enveloping binds.
Luke George is soft-spoken, casual. “You can go tighter,” he says mildly to the person tying his hands behind his back. He gives streamlined directions (“Lean back,” “Don’t stop”) and praises the participants he has involved. I notice my own desire welling up in these interactions—George gazing into the face of the man whose hands work fast at the knots, fingers slipping snug between rope and thigh to make adjustments.
|Luke George, BUNNY, Campbelltown Arts Centre|
photo Chris Frape
Daniel Kok has a different energy: he does not utter a word throughout the performance. He slowly works his way around the floor, engaging intently with the bound objects, one at a time. He activates the objects (literally sets off the fire extinguisher), but not only that: it feels like he is ‘happening’ to them, as if each object must endure some sort of imposed, transformative embrace.
There are gear-changes throughout the piece: spurts of music, intoxicating waacking and voguing dance styles and periods of quiet. We travel for a long time, but it’s a good amount of time to settle into the dynamic the work develops.
Eventually, Kok approaches a human. He ties an audience member into a particularly trying bind, eases her into the space and holds her in close embrace before smacking her once, twice, on the buttocks. A collective gasp sounds from the audience. Was she prepared for that? Kok goes on to silently empty her handbag, lining the contents up in single file on the floor and doling out her cash to random audience members. By now the woman is laughing. Many of us are laughing. This is a clear breach of privacy and yet, because of the sense of trust and mutual care that Kok and George have developed in the space, it’s okay. I have the sense that the woman feels safe.
BUNNY is a momentary explosion of questions. It is a temporary community. I leave abuzz with an emergent sense of my own place in those questions; with a new sense of my own desire.
|Daniel Kok and participant, BUNNY, Campbelltown Arts Centre|
photo Chris Frape
See also Garth Knight’s Nemeton, a Japanese influenced bondage work, in which the artist also invited audience members to be bound. It featured in Performance Space’s Liveworks in 2015.
Campbelltown Arts Centre, BUNNY, artists Daniel Kok (Singapore) and Luke George (Australia), lighting design Matthew Adey, House of Vnholy, dramaturgy Tang Fu Kuen, producers Tang Fu Kuen, Alison Halit; Campbelltown Arts Centre, NSW, 22-23 Jan
RealTime issue #131 Feb-March 2016 pg.
© Cleo Mees; for permission to reproduce apply to firstname.lastname@example.org