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Timothy Edser Timothy Edser
photo Amanda De Simone
There is a new and vibrant energy boiling in the underbelly of the Melbourne art scene, repositioning the body with the political. It has been on the rise for sometime with artists such as Catherine Bell, Andrew Atchison, Ash Keating, Alex Martinis Roe, Penny Trotter and Sarah Lynch reigniting the powerful medium of performance art.

The evening of Thursday July 7 was an important night. This energy seemed to be in the air with a powerful and brave performance by Timothy Kendall Edser at West Space and Danielle Freakley’s one night project, We Must Support Ourselves, at Spacement Gallery where she strategically exhibited the artists with their art.

Edser’s Tension 10, part of a series of performance based works, transformed West Space into a New York-style gallery with stark fluorescent lights cast over a large white catwalk-cum-plinth in the centre of the room and partitioned by a wall in the middle. At the far end of one side Edser stood completely still, wearing only underwear, vulnerable, facing the wall.

It was immediately interesting to observe a typically conservative Melbourne audience navigate their way around the artist whose simple act made people huddle at the back of the room or cling to the gallery edges in small groups. There was a sense of anticipation. As in the works of Guillermo Gomez-Pena, Mike Parr and Clinton Nain, the mere presence of the human body generated a potent energy.

Edser appeared like a Ron Mueck figure and as the evening progressed he seemed to assume an even more sculptural presence. Then at 7 o’clock, having remained absolutely still for over an hour, he ran towards the wall dividing the plinth and with 2 charges forced his body through the barrier to the other side.

As he lay shivering in the rubble of his own construction, the gathering stood in silent shock unable to establish an appropriate response to something more than a performance. Edser had obviously injured himself. His back was scratched, and he appeared to be in a state of physical and mental trauma. The documentation of the performance is held at Westspace, however the real art of the performance—the narrowing of space between work and creator, between vulnerable performer and awkward audience—had already been realised.

Timothy Kendall Edser, West Space, Melbourne, July 7

RealTime issue #74 Aug-Sept 2006 pg. 54

© Christian Thompson; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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