Rituals of Destruction

Raynham Park, 145 Karangahape Road, Auckland, Auckland

02/03/2022 - 05/03/2022

Production Details



Rituals of Destruction by Alexa Wilson

With the change in the traffic light system leading to many live performance cancellations, award-winning avant-garde performance artist, Alexa Wilson proudly returns to her old stomping ground in Auckland’s K’RD to an adaptable venue for the premiere of Rituals of Destruction, playing at Raynham Park (former Disrupt Gallery) from the 2nd-5thof March 2022. 

Raynham Park will allow for small audiences, socially distanced which can quickly and safely increase capacity should levels change. Alexa is excited about reclaiming K’Rd for this production which responds current times of mass crisis, and the global phenomena of mass protests, collective resistance, and the traumatic effects of a pandemic. What better than a red-light district to showcase the power of the light and the dark. 

In addition, Wilson is also creating a video version of the work, shot in locations around Auckland over summer. A skilled video artist, she aims to have this version festival ready in 2022. 

Rituals of Destruction focuses on underlying myths, misnomers, or distortions, demonstrating how performance, and particularly performance art, is highly ritualistic in its origin. Stemming from historical systemic imbalances, Rituals of Destruction is a glimpse at what happens when we reflect culture in order to transform it. Its aims are to break down oppressive norms in and around the body and identity, through powerful symbolic actions and gestures.

The work is performed by a fully female ensemble – Alexa Wilson herself, along with Shani Dickins and Alana Yee, with live drumming from Hannah Dactyl (Vox Venus). Visually, the work is deconstructing pop culture and glamour, framed by silver and gold flooring with a moody lighting design. Pulling anarchistic punk-like images from media, audiences will see how the artists play with juxtaposition by interweaving ancient rituals alongside daily contemporary ones, creating an epic and hectic experience in the hour-long piece. 

Fully female ensemble - Alexa Wilson, along with Shani Dickins and Alana Yee, with live drumming from Hannah Dactyl (Vox Venus)

Physical , Performance Art , Experimental dance , Dance , Cultural activation , Contemporary dance ,

60 mins

A source of bias in retrospective decision making: experimental evidence

Review by Zoe Crook 25th Mar 2022

“A source of bias in retrospective decision making: experimental evidence”

Rituals of Destruction is available to view via the artists website: https://cargocollective.com/alexawilson/Rituals-of-Destruction

Jean Francois Lyotard explained it as ‘incredulities towards metanarratives’[1] Frederic Jamieson called it ‘the erosion’[2].

Alexa Wilson named it Rituals of Destruction

Move over Acconci with your sperm centred creationist aesthetics[3], this is a Metahaven hyperreality gone cthulucene. 

Rituals of Destruction is Alexa Wilson’s latest work. A revelation of Wilson’s immense talents, what was meant to be a live performance rode the recent waves of Omicron to land as a piece of online video art.  

Removing the live, and the stage; Wilson has created this make-your-own-adventure story from a combination of recorded rehearsals, staged remakes, and filmed footage.  

Wilson has used the opportunity of disruption to be creative with narrative and post production. 

Jockeying other media, the final work includes Zoom, Youtube hyperlinks, guest appearances including Priya Miller, and found footage with added voiceovers. At thirty videos there is no lack of content. 

Videos are organised into a ‘Performance Menu’ that reads with headlines of “Entrees, Mains, Desserts, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten free, Beverages and Todays Specials”.  

Though Wilson has worked online before, this is the first time she has curated her work in this style. Vj-ing[4]in a new light, Rituals of Destruction is post structuralism’s valentine thrusting organised direction into the arms of pastiche. Oft humourous, Wilson has matched the humour in her performance with linguistic gold including “23. Video Interlude – 4 Elements Raw…” in ‘Gluten Free’ and “29. Death Ritual Game…” in ‘Today’s Specials’.

Leaning on Wilson’s training in video (Wilson completed an MA in Film Production at the University of Auckland in 2009) the order speaks to a sophisticated eye, that makes fraudulent the idea of a linear runlist, and thoroughly expands what order could really offer live work. Relinquishing this control to the viewer it is of course possible that one could watch just ‘Beverages’ or the whole thing, on repeat, for days. 

So what does this say to the immateriality that performance thrives on? The transience? The relationality?

The unspoken rules these questions underlie are rituals, and so by deed of title, Rituals of Destructionanswers “who the fuck cares?”.

Deconstructive in essence, the format that Rituals of Destruction has arrived at, is reflective of surviving our context: 

intimate and essential.  

Because ironically this pandemic has done the opposite of what Jackson Pollock did in response to WWII. We have gone small and invited our audiences to truly come face to face with us; deep into the portals of our web cams and 13” screens, our click and collect orders and neighbourhood exercise circuits.

The content however is not. Expansive and conceptual, in true Alexa Wilson style, the work is raw and loose. Punk forever, the big question is, does it traverse past being self referential? 

An effortless bow, one cannot deny the conceptual perfection of destroying the control of the performer or artist over their audience, to reach this level of titular conceit. 

Performance, rehearsal, dance – these things are all based on ritual. Rituals of creation and in turn destruction. But here, what Wilson does is put them on a performative pause allowing them to be read as a document. 

There is a lot to be said for this piece of work, taking on a document approach to film. At moments we are unable to hear what the performers say because the music is too loud, or we are set in the typical position enforced by the fourth wall. Yet it is these effects of brutality (to our soft centred social media reliant selves) that create a pause in the space of high consumption streaming. 

Metabolism in action, the art exists in the breaking down.

Rituals of Destruction is also a work of competition. You have content, performers, ranging locations, dance, text, music, subtitles, the camera eye, the camera person. Heavy weight champs all vying not for attention but destruction. Concept aside this is explored in practise in a number of the vignettes including “4. Dance off to Dubstep” and “6. Repeated Introductions”. 

The work begins to veer into offering opportunities to embrace the camera as performer, such as when a performer begins to take selfies and photographs in “3. Clean up Rituals…” . But the choice to keep this as an objectifiable routine, removed from the lens of the camera we see through, means the work doesn’t fall into a space of theatrical trope. The camera is a surveillance mechanism, singular in its angle.

The work obviously ties in with conversations around video’s prominence in this Covid-19 world. And it’s true, video/film/social media became the most accessible means to communicate art to an audience during the pandemic.  

But as Merleau-Ponty writes “To be a body, is to be tied to a certain world…our body is not primarily in space, it is of it”. What Merleau Ponty espouses in Phenomenology of Perception[5] is the same sentiment Barbara Clausen explains as “an exporting event occurs when we see bedrooms – they are sites that aren’t meant to be seen”[6]

What Wilson has done with Rituals of Destruction is the same. She has created an ‘exporting event’ that allows the viewer to pivot in their now, that space they are “of”. Destruction and creation proved to be on a continuum,  what we see with Wilson’s work is the audience using the self same tools that they employ to annihilate their claustrophobic present to, in turn, remind them of it.  

[1] The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. (1984) Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

[2] The Cultural Turn. (1998) London, Verso.

[3] Reference to Vito Acconci Seedbed 1972

[4] Video Jockey

[5] (1962). London: Routledge.

[6] Performing Histories: Why the Point Is Not to Make a Point… (2010) Afterall 23 


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