HASTHAGWINNING is a group exhibition about our feelings; or how we perceive and celebrate success. It’s on view until 2 April at The Bearded Tit in Redfern, Sydney. The participation awards go to Elvis Richardson, Madeleine Preston, Tanja Bruckner with Selena Murray, CoUNTess and 110% who explore what it means to be a “runner up” in parallel with Art Month – or as curator Connie Anthes describes it – ‘Sydney’s favourite competitive sport!’
My interview with the performance collective 110% took place, like some modern relationships, entirely online after a chance encounter IRL. Artists Kieran Bryant, Beth Dillon and Lachlan Herd responded with one voice distilled from 3 Wi-Fi connections from their studios in Sydney, Helsinki and Berlin. Tri-Hard (2016) is a 3-channel video displayed on the Taxidermy T.V behind the bar as the audio plays out of sync in the unisex toilet. It’s an opportunity to experience a little group love – at The Tit abstinence is for losers.
Chloe Mandryk is a Sydney based writer and curator. Chloe is the Manager of the ARTAND Foundation a not-for-profit initiative supporting creative practice in Australia. Read the extended interview via chloemandryk.com
Chloe Mandryk: Skype, aphorisms or ‘inspirational quotes’, humour and missed connections are all hallmarks of relationships. How does your friendship influence your work?
110% (Kieran Bryant, Beth Dillon and Lachlan Herd): The three of us started hanging out together while we were studying in the sculpture department at the College of Fine Arts, Sydney. Our collaboration developed organically out of this existing bond when we decided to apply to present a performance work together at Underbelly Arts Festival in 2013. After 3 years of working together, the boundaries between friendship and collaborative working relationship have become indistinguishable. Most of our ideas are sparked through casual encounters and conversations. We have an endlessly expanding Facebook message chain where we bounce ideas off each other. It flows with relaxed rhythm and generous spirit. This influence is probably most evident in our Positive Returns exhibition. Our separate thoughts and feelings for each other were documented and immortalised in the form of objects, gifs and texts.
CM: Positive and negative space in art is well understood, can you speak about this third metric of “distance” that you try to address?
110%: Our work experiments with projections of positive and negative energies. When we think of distance we think of how this affects the affective dynamic. There is the distant remote, bringing a sense of longing and lack, of absence. We are interested in how to inhabit and interact in a playful way with this state of separation between artist and audience, whether that audience is ourselves or the wider public. How to create and maintain a feeling of connection in situations of temporal and spatial dislocation? Then there is the distance that is hardly a distance at all, an almost uncomfortable proximity between us and them, us and each other. When we work with this distance we are playing with a sense of almost claustrophobic closeness, with the intimacies of giving care, of hosting.
We also close the metric of distance. Although we are commonly disparate from one and other, we continue to present work. Our exercises in Positive Returns, Tri-Hard and Find It Blue to Think of You were exercises in maintaining a sense of togetherness in times of dislocation.
CM: Where do you draw inspiration from?
110%: Office mug affirmations, armchair philosophy, google translate, MX dating section, workout motivation posters, self-help blogs, cheap champagne, blue skies, blue oceans, greener grass on other sides, group hugs on the dance floor, public toilets, day spas, dollar store products, facebook feed, click holes, handshakes, netball uniforms, streamlined aesthetics, Andy Kaufman, dad jokes, puns, wide open horizons of the seaside and outback, Mariah Carey, Tyra Banks, Sabrina Salerno, Samantha Fox, awkward advertising, public pools, karaoke videos, gold stars.
CM: What meaning do you hope to generate by mixing technology with an IRL experience?
110%: Lately, we have been using video as a broadcasting medium, sending messages of support, of care, of motivation to each other. We hope to generate a sense of presence and closeness in times when we cannot be together in the same space as physical bodies. We also use video montages in installation contexts to create an ambient setting for live performance – of excitement and intensity in the case of our Carpe Carpe Carpe Diem! performance series, and of pure relaxation and reclining leisure in the case of Holiday Feelings.
In Holiday Feelings we created a video tour of Underbelly Arts festival where a participant could be contained in a towelled environment and observe the festival from the comfort of their own seat. This was about the comfort of being toured via technology instead of laboring your body, the summit of service.
CM: Is it important that a person experiences the “full” narrative of Tri-Hard, by design the video and audio are out of sync.
110%: Rather than a solid narrative, the work seeks to communicate an intention, the video and audio series stems from a desire to offer sentiments of love, encouragement and longing for the absent members of the trio. Exhibited as separate and out of sync broadcasts, the installation confuses the clear delivery of the sentiment to the audience, reproducing the conditions of distance and dislocation that inspired us to create the work. All in all, Tri-hard is an exercise in well-intentioned confusion.
CM: Based on this work, and other performances, 110% has a focus on the emerging artist and their place in the art scene – do you imagine this thread will continue if you enter a new tier of success?
110%: I think the conditions that we examine are not specific to the emerging artist experience. Mid-career and established artists seem to experience the same issues of precarious income and employment, lack of space, lack of institutional support and funding, lack of public interest, as emerging artists in Australia. How to motivate and sustain continued artistic production in the current conditions, in the community in which we are based? This question will remain the same, regardless of where we are placed on a ladder of artistic achievement and hype.
CM: What are you working on now/next?
110%: On the 21st March we will be presenting a live performance to accompany our work, Tri-Hard, currently showing as part of group show, HASTHAGWINNING, at the Bearded Tit, Sydney.
We have a few performances coming up as part of the Free Fall program at Oxford Arts Factory. Saturation Point will be a group massage session exploring bodies interacting in states of intimate proximity and extreme slickness.
We’re also working on a new series, A summit wouldn’t do without you, in which we explore the significance of mountains in cultures of ambition and conquest. We’ll be presenting our third solo show together at Bus Projects in Melbourne, riffing on this theme and continued togetherness. •