Frustrated Performance/ Frustrated Body is made up of ‘Countdown‘, 2008 and ‘Countdown 28′, 2017. This is an attempt to conform to a standard and found lacking. A performance evolved to control a body which only undermines the regulation. Layering the frustration, the performance never ends, the body fails to deliver and they never meet in the middle.
‘Countdown’ is part of my MFA project and was created during a time when I was repeatedly attempting to have children. The works investigate and document the pressure to perform. Following research into process, series and repetition in the everyday, the work shifts readings of abstraction and starts to question what it means to be a female artist today. Referencing the often-mundane activities that many in our society continue to enact day after day with particular interest in the futility of them. Asking: when is the performance successful? When do we stop performing?
Works include process driven drawings, embroidery and video for example, the series of drawings Untitled (Drawing Performance) (a line is drawn with a coloured pencil picked at random and repeated) and video work Untitled (Shuffle) (coloured pieces of paper are shuffled repeatedly). Placed alongside video works that lead to nowhere, for example, Untitled (Countdown) (an animated countdown from 100 to 0 and repeats, recently renamed to ‘Countdown’) and Untitled (Landscape) (an animated landscape is continuously searched).
At the time of my MFA project I never revealed what was happening in the background, a deeply personal struggle to perform a primal rite of passage, for-filling expectations which signify me as woman. However, the repeated nature of this private performance was heavily influencing the work.
When Jordana Bragg requested Countdown for a show at MEANWHILE, I spent some time in the studio with Countdown on it’s own, away from the larger body of work, and very quickly reworked it into ‘Countdown 28′, counting down from 28 to 0 and repeating. Representing a menstrual cycle.
I realised that although ‘Countdown 28′ retains the frustration of nothing happening, not having children. I have also introduced the satisfaction of not getting pregnant, which is the desired outcome for most of our reproductive years, myself included. From there I started thinking about how reproduction is regulated through access to contraception and abortion. And how within a patriarchal system for something to have value it has to be quantifiable. Ultimately within a patriarchal system a woman’s value is her ability to reproduce.
‘Countdown’ from 100 is standing in for the patriarchal system. A measurement that ‘Countdown 28′ fails to measure up to. Adding another level of frustration.
Satisfaction Frustration, MEANWHILE, Wellington, New Zealand, 2017