Black Cracker for THE BILL
in collaboration with Gerald Friedrich Spelsberg
Free From Drag, 2016
Produced during the short artist residency between Auckland and Piha.
Design elements, performance and visual editing: G.F.S
Sound design, textual elements and audio editing: Black Cracker
Assistance for the performance set-up: Tim Wagg
Contributing Vocalists: Tamsyn Matchett, Sian O'Gorman, Julia Atkins, Rhys Hingston, Alex Taylor
Special thanks to Fiona Clark, Tamsyn Matchett and Wallace Chapman
Commissioned for 'THE BILL with Fiona Clark' programme at Artspace February 20 - April 22, 2016
As part of THE BILL programme Artspace presented two forms of performance by Berlin based, American artist and musician Black Cracker with Berlin based art director/designer Gerald Friedrich Spelsberg (GFS): on March 9, a Black Cracker gig with LVJ and K2K at Neck of the Woods and on March 12, a collaborative performance at Artspace with GFS and an Auckland based choir led by Tamsyn Matchett for White Night.
During Black Cracker and GFS’s short artist residency in Auckland and in preparation for their performances during White Night Fiona Clark has documented them in their preconceived forms of appearance for the night. The images were then printed and installed as Artspace’s season of exhibitions and events THE BILL evolves.
Black Cracker performing during White Night, Artspace, March 12.
Including their presence in this environment, climate and location into Clark’s genealogy or whakapapa of a community, the photographs acknowledge the reflexivity of time, the power of the performative gaze, and its ontological presence. Responding to the conceptual understanding of self-perception and self-image, this collaboration enables Artspace visitors to bridge Fiona Clark’s solo exhibition into the collective platform proposed by the season’s next exhibition For Collective Conscious.
Auckland based choir performing during White Night, Artspace, Auckland March 12. Photo By Fiona Clark, Video work by G.F.S. Contributing Vocalists: Tamsyn Matchett, Sian O'Gorman, Julia Atkins, Rhys Hingston, Alex Taylor.
During the production process, G.F.S. designed and generated special stage costumes for the performance night and installation at Artspace that departed from the title “Free From Drag”, and also a reference to “be free from labels” through the transition from a cloth to a costume.
The changing positions of the performers, references to invisibility, transparency, body movements, lyrics and landscape, come together to create a breathtaking experience as a live performance, and now as a living document of this process.
As a track, a threnody and also a video, the work becomes a form of contemporary poetry written, shared and performed with others through a spiritual transition from body to mind, and from mind to body.
The video recalls the special moment during the performance night when the choir was singing “Pōkarekare ana” led by Tamsyn Matchett, and becomes a tribute to the distance between two realities: from Piha Beach to Karangahape road, from the wild character of nature, which is impossible to attribute any gender code to the brutal conditions of a street, when all genders emerge.
White Night, Artspace March 12.
Black Cracker described his relationship with THE BILL programme, and also the content he would develop for the show during an interview on Radio New Zealand during his first week in Auckland: “...I think that it is pretty silly to speak to transgender when we can just speak to gender; because it is universally all of our experiences and we again try to limit the conversation. It is like we are constantly trying to take the conversations off ourselves, and to put it on the others, it is really the conversations we are having with our own genders when we talk about transgender... My plan [for the Artspace commission] right now is just to work with frequency. I am super interested in what happens when you record nature but you filter out different frequencies, or filter up different frequencies... I am educating myself about the ecological systems here, so my understanding is the national bird is the kiwi, which is a bird that can’t fly, confined to an island. You know, for me, I feel like this is the perfect analogy with how I think we should all experience ourselves and our genders, right where we are, we are unique, and we are special, and we are anomalies. Not every bird needs to fly...” (excerpt from Wallace Chapman’s Sunday Morning show on RNZ 6/3/2016).
Fiona Clark, GFS and Black Cracker, Artspace, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett.
THE BILL programme of exhibitions and events at Artspace marks the 30th anniversary of the 1986 Homosexual Law Reform Act in New Zealand Aotearoa. It begins with a solo exhibition by Taranaki based artist Fiona Clark, entitled For Fantastic Carmen and in March it grows and becomes a group show, political call to action and a performance based discussion platform For Collective Unconscious. THE BILL at Artspace not only aims to generate new perspectives on the history of queer identities in Aotearoa but also to create an art historical bridge to a collective memory.
Video work by G.F.S. White Night, March 12, Artsapce.
Black Cracker is assisted by Clemens Kellner.
Neck of the Woods performance is presented with production assistance by Sam Harman.
THE BILL is offered in association with Auckland Art Festival.