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Naomi Oliver, exist-ence 5, Sydney Naomi Oliver, exist-ence 5, Sydney
photo Tija Lodins
Kathyrn Kelly provides a detailed report on the festival performances in the Brisbane component of Exist-ence. Among a handful of performances in the Sydney iteration at PACT were two particularly memorable works that addressed time and effort in very different ways,

Across the evening, in Self Generating Tranquility Pod, Naomi Oliver sits in a bright pool of light just inside the entrance to the PACT performance space. Clothed in an encompassing white satin, headphones and boots that evoke, perhaps, someone preparing quite domestically for space travel—more inner space than outer—Oliver knits silver thread into a netted layer with which to further cover herself, like a caterpillar encasing itself prior to transformation. The performer’s stillness and concentration yield pleasant contemplation of the values of slow being, making and survival.

John G Boehme & Beauregard John G Boehme & Beauregard
photo Tija Lodins
In Sport, performed in the rest of the space, the large-framed John G Boeme (Canada), garbed in a variety of sporting paraphernalia stamps around the stage in spiked shoes indifferently dumping sporting gear of all kinds on the floor while chewing seeds from which he perpetually spits kernels. His 10-year old son Beau ritually bounces a ball against a wall until his father/coach chalks up a target, wordlessly demanding accuracy. It’s the beginning of a series of tests before which the indolent master first demonstrates his own abilities, for example utterly smashing golf balls with violent drives. The boy can’t even connect with the ball.

Things turn more bizarre as the coach spouts platitudes from a self-improvement book (“Success is a marathon, not a sprint”) and, naked from the waist down save for a jock strap and protective cup, places two slabs of butter on his bald head and over them a porcelain helmet-like bowl while, gasping, he sucks oxygen from a tube. Initially the boy skips about (demonstrating balletic tendencies) until it’s indicated that he has to knock a ball off the top of his father’s head with a mini-baseball bat. But the odds against the ball remaining stable are enormous as butter and sweat run down the man’s face. Finally the bowl is abandoned and the ball whacked off his head. The end. Clearly Boeme has some issues with sport—about power relationships, parenting, ego and ludicrous goals. With expressionless ease father and son enact this memorable performance with a detachment that yields both suspense and the laughter of recognition.

Exist-ence 5, PACT Centre for Emerging Artists, Sydney, 19-20 July

RealTime issue #116 Aug-Sept 2013 pg. web

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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