The Point of Incidence
23/09/2023 - 30/11/2023
Created and performed by Amber Liberte
Dates of the exhibition/performance installation at The End, 68 New North Rd, Eden The, Auckland – Saturdays, 23rd and 30th September, 2023.
Performance installation , Dance , Solo ,
4 hours (durational) 2 saturdays
Who are we if not reflections of each other and society?
Review by Alexa Wilson 10th Nov 2023
A headless body with head replaced by a circular mirror in the corner of an intimate gallery, the end, in Auckland central with a variety of screens, projections and photos in various forms on plinths, the walls, a phone video on the wall with head phones reflecting a dancing body as the smallest screen with the loudest content, bodies cut by screens dancing around broken tree parts on beaches to dance music. The presence of Amber Liberte’s own body as the art and artist in the gallery space as performing body (with me one on one until another familiar arrives) strengthens an interesting message about culture reflecting culture. Framed within the void of our times where we are swallowed by screens culturally as an expectation or replacement for the relational.
Mirrors in conversation with walls, reflecting audiences, devices on plinths, platforms upon platforms, circular mirror in conversation with lines and structures, a circle as non-linear framing the head reflected back at us, the body in conversation with flat screens, multiple flat screens on multiple platforms, a face mirror reflecting lines on the floor, reflections in conversation with the void of questioning in this age coined by post-modern philosopher Lyotard in the 1980s theorising the post-modern era as a “reflection of surfaces” (misquote/paraphrase)- “who am I?”. Are we embodying a disembodied cultural void like a mirror that reflects a mirror in an endless mirage of smoke and mirrors. Is this what we are seeing? Can we even see it?
We can definitely feel it.
I can barely see the screen from the sun’s glare reflecting on the laptop and screen darkness as I write this wanting to be outside in the sunshine after months of rain and years of being forced to face screens in Covid-19’s restrictions in Tamaki Makaurau Aotearoa (Auckland, NZ) as a replacement for relating.
The work is felt, it is embodied in exploring this cultural void in slow motion. The tone of the work, which in performance like a slow motion glitter ball reflecting fractured truths with the artist in her body standing and moving squarely on the Earth either in barren beach scapes within Aotearoa’s west coast or the wooden floor of the gallery, held by the hypnotic sound of dreamy yet dark noise music and the performer’s gentle physical slow motion musing on “what is this body?” is profoundly and delicately embodied in the void of this global digital experience. The hands beautifully curl around each other in front of the mirror playing with their own embodiment, while her body wraps around the mirror almost in a hug. Do we cling to the mirage? The screens? Do we know nothing else at this point?
The contrast of screens with the body, Earth, connection, the social warmth of the gallery at The End initiated by Terrease McCombe and others, and strength of a moving body in conversation with this overwhelming void experience of the relational via various forms of alienating bombarding technology is minimal and powerful. It offers a slowed down viscerality that is mesmerising and a relief from the harshness of screen culture. A circle cannot fit through a square hole. These reflections of alienation are cyclical in our now 100 year era or industrialisation in the modern world.
Who are we if not reflections of each other and society? The artist asks these questions in text on the wall. How do we stand on or engage with this Earth, ourselves, our bodies and each other? Is it up to us to create within this void inside a contemporary dystopia we find ourselves as an accumulated or burnt out capitalist embodiment?
We can be obsessed or distracted by ourselves and our own reflection in a social media narcissism (like the Greek myth of Narcissus) as our culture while the Earth is torn apart by Climate Change and multiple social crises within a possibly engineered polarisation or we can face each other and ourselves actually, in our embodiment of the now.
Feeling, creating, blindly if so, our way through.
We can face the void within and around caused by our modern digital Zeitgeist. We can find our embodiment within it, and we will need to slow down to feel it.
This work was a masterful execution of minimalism at its best unfolding and opening spaces and layers within its depths. It worked beautifully between live art and gallery video installation both abstractly and conceptually. In a post-Covid recession climate in which Auckland took the main hits for Aotearoa by being hard locked down for 7 months over 2 years with a border around the city’s last 4 month lockdown in 2021, which has also taken a toll on its performing arts infrastructure, video and performance relationship is still big in the conversation.
This marks a cultural shift that is very real for the country’s largest city, with this year’s Tempo, Auckland’s Dance Festival still choosing to do Capture: Digital Dance Showcase on Aotea Square’s Digital stage rather than a live festival. These have been necessities in an economic and cultural climate shaking the foundations of the live arts in Auckland.
The nuances of video and Iive performance integration and conversation are unfolding in Tāmaki Makaurau building on a long history already in global live performance. Performance artists were also often video artists in the 60s and 70s (eg Ana Mendieta), and choreographic works can thrive on film also in a media age (think Maya Deren, Yvonne Rainer and Pina Bausch). Whether you like it or not, this is a cultural shift post-Covid also globally and one worth understanding discourse, context and politics around rather than expecting to disappear.
We live in a digital age where performativity thrives via social media online immediacy. Video and live performance are both time-based, people centred, require an audience, and intimate, emotive or ephemeral forms engaged during the digital age of information with contemporary identity, questions, politics and embodiment in various ways. They are both a reflection of and therefore have the potential to transform societal perceptions in different ways. We should be supporting young and emerging artists to explore what interests them and reflects shifts in our cultural climate, they are at the forefront.
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