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The Buddhist Bug, Into the Night 2015 by Anida Yoeu Ali

Image © the artist

floors of QAG and GOMA, both artists are dressed in spectacularly handmade costumes. Justin Shoulder a dragon-like, part-human part-robot, hybrid creature, with a car-like head and body reptilian and bird-like. Made from plastic straws, balloons, light bulbs and multi-coloured plastic feathers; Justin Shoulder’s creature moves like an animal in an unfamiliar place. Surveying its environment the creature pauses its paces now and again to let out digitally distorted grunts and barks.

 

Walking alongside Justin Shoulder is Bhenji Ra dressed in a tight, nude dress, an extravagant headpiece and nipples covered in small, ornamental, metal plates. Ra’s elegant but disconnected presence moves throughout the floors of QAGOMA; the entire time looking into a mirror made from seashells and sequins, self absorbed and admiring oneself from all angles. Justin Shoulder and Bhenji Ra both from the Philippines and now living in Sydney use performance as a way to explore queer and fantastical discussions.

 

Less colourful in visual imagery but equally intriguing is Gabriella and Silvana Mangano’s performance There is no There. A line of people all visually in unison - simple hair, same bland and simple clothing with expressionless faces moving the same motions and gestures. The group performs live in front of a projected film with the same uniformed people moving in the same manner; each person moves in time with one another in a collaboration; one foot moves a step forward or to the side with the other foot meeting back to the centre, one hand is placed on the mouth of the person to the right, a hand is placed on the back of the head of the person to the left. As a live cellist plays a sombre composition both the group on screen and live group turn to face the audience and point for an uncomfortable duration!

 

Born in Australia, Mangano’s language and gestures are inspired by a Soviet Union theatre collective called the Blue Blouse movement by performing gestures and movements from news articles and images.

 

Anida Youe Ali, Justin Shoulder, Bhenji Ra and Gabriella and Silvana Mangano will be performing across various locations in QAG and GOMA during APT8.

Identity plays a large part in APT8, one of many artists demonstrating this is Indonesian artist Melati Suryodarmo. I'm a Ghost in My Own House takes the form of a gruelling physical performance of pulverising and crushing large charcoal pieces for 12 hours. As the artist progresses, fragments of the carbon’s dust stains her white clothing. Suryodarmo’s video performance plays alongside a room filled with a sea of uncrushed charcoal and the dust that remains after her torturous test of endurance. Suspended above the black sea is her blackened dress, like a ghostly reminder of the impossible task she knew she couldn’t complete. This painful and exhausting performance echoes Suryodarmo’s need for belonging to a home, but being far from it.

Live performance by Justin Shoulder and Bhenji Ra

Image © Mel Fletcher

Live performance by Justin Shoulder and Bhenji Ra

Image © Mel Fletcher

There is no there 2015

Live performance by Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano

Image © the artists

Melati Suryodarmo uses charcoal as a representation of life’s energy that begins with liberation, then to catharsis and eventually death.

 

Seventh generation Australian Abdul Abdullah also references his displaced heritage with his ‘Coming to Terms’ series. The Wedding (Conspiracy to Commit) is a portrait of a typical Malaysian wedding scene, but in this particular image the bride and groom are wearing balaclavas. The artist’s mother who is Malaysian born is a reference to his work whilst also bringing to light western society’s common misconception of the Muslim population.

 

Christian Thompson is another artist exploring his long lost heritage. A descendent of the Kunja people of central-western Queensland Australia; the artist works with photography and performance, using himself as the subject to piece together visual references of both his ancestry and pop culture from his very different urban environment in which he was born and lives today. A marry of these two very dissimilar cultures makes for dark and alien imagery.

What’s most memorable at APT8 is the many forms of interactive artworks the festival presents. One of which is Indian artist Asim Waqif. A qualified architect, the artist sources disposed, reused and recyclable materials found around the locations in which the constructions are being exhibited. At APT8 Waqif’s All we leave behind are memories is an interactive installation made from timbre sourced from Brisbane construction sites that impressively spans 3 floors of GOMA. This site-specific framework whispers to passer-by with glitches and noises triggered by motion sensors that ultimately encourage the audience to get amongst it. Once touched, walked over and stood on, the artwork responds further with echoing bellows.

SaVage K'lub 2010 -ongoimg by Rosanna Raymond

Image © Mel Fletcher

Trinity II (from 'Polari' series) 2014 by Christian Thompson

Image © the artist

The Wedding (Conspiracy to Commit) 2015 by Abdul Abdullah

Image © the artist

All we leave behind are the memories 2015 by Asim Waqif

Image © Mel Fletcher

Foolad (Still), 2014​ by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian

Image © the artist

What’s most memorable at APT8 is the many forms of interactive artworks the festival presents. One of which is Indian artist Asim Waqif. A qualified architect, the artist sources disposed, reused and recyclable materials found around the locations in which the constructions are being exhibited. At APT8 Waqif’s All we leave behind are memories is an interactive installation made from timbre sourced from Brisbane construction sites that impressively spans 3 floors of GOMA. This site-specific framework whispers to passer-by with glitches and noises triggered by motion sensors that ultimately encourage the audience to get amongst it. Once touched, walked over and stood on, the artwork responds further with echoing bellows.

 

In discussion Waqif explains - “In a gallery context there can be barriers between audience and artwork”, and it is with this Waqif attempts to break down those barriers. Smelling the earthy and raw timbre, touching the unpolished finishes of the industrial bolts that hold it together and walking amongst and over the construction gives the audience euphoric sensory overload and an appreciation for the history of the country we inhabit.

 

Another inviting artwork is that of Choi Jeong-HwaMandala of Flowers 2015 is an interactive and visually sensory piece by the South Korean artist. With an explostion of colour Jeong-Hwa fills an entire room with multicoloured, plastic bottle caps encouraging small children to create their own mandala patterns.

 

Not straying far from visual overload, collaborative artists Ramin Haerizadeh (Iran), Rokni Haerizadeh (Iran) and Hesam Rahmanian (US) take installation to the extreme. Using ready-mades, painting, video, installation, drawing, photography and assemblage (but to name a few) the artists fill a QAG room from ceiling to floor with patterns, grotesque imagery, and humurous and obsurd visuals. Their installation All The Rivers Run Into The Sea. Over. / Copy. Yet, The Sea Is Not Full. Over 2015​ aims to recreate the artist studio they all share in Dubai.

 

All-in-all APT8 is an arts festival full of wierd, wonderful and celebratory cultural insight. With so many exciting workshops, artist talks and performances to choose from, this jam packed festival leaves you wanting to go back for more.

____________________________

Review written by Mel Fletcher

Text © Mel Fletcher

Images © photographers as mentioned

Source: qagoma.qld.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/apt8

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APT8

QAGOMA, Brisbane, Australia

 

APT8 is QAGOMA’s 8th Asia Pacific Triennial showcasing over 80 artists in the city of Brisbane. Overwhelming in sheer volume and broad in cultural enlightenment, APT8 reveals themes of social identity, sexuality, politics and pop culture.

 

More than just another arts festival QAGOMA's galleries and surrounding streets are buzzing with a wide and all-inclusive array of live performance, cinema, artist talks and family workshops.

Words © Mel Fletcher

One of many notable performances is Cambodian artist Anida Yoeu Ali’s The Buddhist Bug; an on-going performance in which the artist is dressed in a monk orange, caterpillar-like coiled costume. Sitting upright in her bizarre attire Ali allows passer-by to approach, leaving a very confronting experience to take away. As you edge near to the spectacle positioned in the centre of the main hall in QAG (a narrow walkway surrounded by shallow water) you have no choice but to get as close as nose-to-nose to the artist. Brave enough to look her in the eye, the artist gives an equally vulnerable yet approaching stare as she silently and slowly sways.

Anida Ali’s performance manifested in her homeland of Cambodia where she documented the countries changing urban and rural landscape.

 

Another mysterious performance is Philippine artists Justin Shoulder and Bhenji Ra’s collaboration that brings together elements of mythology, fantasy and fables. Walking amongst the

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