Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
18th November, 2007
Intervention at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, about the lack of local live art in the curatorial vision of one of Australia’s foremost contemporary art institutions. Apart from rare appearances by foreign artists, mostly curated by the Biennale, the MCA at this time had disregarded performance. By extension, all contemporary art institutions were implicated.
It was a tense, witty, serene work which captivated gallery visitors, until security shut the gallery in an attempt to threaten me. I remained dead for almost two hours, until forced removal by NSW Police. The performance took place the day after John Howard was voted out of power, enhancing its bid for liberation and change.
Guerilla footage from Dead Art made news all over the world. It has been quoted in subsequent protests by artists Jeff Stein at the Sydney Opera House during Vivid, and Deborah Kelly at the new Kaldor wing at AGNSW. It was a nerve-wracking but ultimately exhilarating experience: it punched a hole in the seemingly impenetrable wall of art institutions, relieving not just me, but people everywhere.
It is impossible to imagine performing this work today. Over the past few years, performance art has enjoyed a popular surge and been curated into programs at the MCA, AGNSW and other major public institutions.
A video of Dead Art was shown in ‘Performance Presence/Video Time’, at AEAF in 2015. A further edited version will soon be available for purchase.