Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I MEAN IT! Stop right now.

There is enough art already and we just don't need any more to add to the pile. I know some of you will have objections.

But it’s just instinctual, I’m naturally creative.

Civilisation is founded on the suppression of certain supposedly “natural” instincts; furthermore, as conscious beings we have the ability to choose which of our instincts we follow. Own your consciousness – choose not to create.

I come from a family of artists.

You are still seeking the approval of your parents and have introjected their expectations of you. This superego thing is controlling your life.

I think all acts of creation have value.

You have idealistic notions of art which suggest that you haven’t been in contact with much of it.

I am a recognised artist whose works have been praised.

You are a narcissist whose self-worth is dependent on others.

It’s my livelihood.

You are a capitalist who implicitly supports a system which encourages class division.

I want something that will endure when I am gone.

You have a fear of death which only be maintained by the production of art which, in any form, is susceptible to decay, degradation or disappearance into history’s ash.

Art is what separates us from the animals.

You have a fear of animals. Go to the zoo or out into the country to confront this fear (but please don’t paint the animals or anything).

I want to give voice to the oppressed, to those silenced by our society.

You want to further that oppression by speaking for others.

Art is a spiritual/life-affirming/personal growth experience.

You want to avoid real life. Try volunteer work.

I just love art.

Borrow other people’s art.

My art could change the world.

You have a messiah complex. Don’t project your hopes onto art, just change the world yourself.

I spent a lot of money on an art degree.

You were never, ever going to make that money back.

My parents spent a lot of money on an art degree.

You are not responsible for your parents’ poor financial decisions. Don’t make the same mistakes they did.

The arts are a vital aspect of our economy.

Art shortages only make existing art more valuable.

The arts are a vital aspect of our culture.

You have a fear of other cultures.

The arts allow us to pass on valuable lessons to our children.

Speak to children. Become a teacher. Not an art teacher.

I can’t do anything else.

That’s a decent reason I suppose.

I want to create something that demonstrates my thoughts and feelings about the world.

You feel that nobody listens to you and that your opinions are somehow unique. Start a blog.

I want to make something that will bring pleasure/joy to others.

Don’t ignore currently available sources of pleasure/joy. Get a job in advertising to promote these sources.

Art is empowering.

So is a sound understanding of the cultural structures which engender disempowerment.

I’ll never know if I’m a great artist unless I give it shot.

Just assume you are and never allow yourself to be proven wrong.


Monday, November 24, 2008


There have been a series of scurrilous rumours circulating around the internet suggesting that ANT FACT MONDAY will not be making its much anticipated return. Well let me scotch those rumours right now. That’s right, scotch ‘em. Wrap them in a (faux-)meat paste, smother them in breadcrumbs and whack them in the deep-fryer.


Now let us proceed with vim and vigour since I am aware you are all time poor and I do not wish to contribute to your temporal poverty.


Ants have no lungs. They are small enough that the air which moves through them is enough to provide the oxygen they require.

Some kinds of ants can use the earth’s magnetic field to determine their location in relation to home.

Some species of ant can join up to form bridges over water. I have seen a documentary showing this process and it is fascinating.

There is a trail of ants who pass by my window every day during the daylight hours but not at night. Some ants in desert climates only travel at night, however, since the day is too hot for them.

No ants have ever come into my current house to forage for food, although a couple have come in the window by getting lost. I put them back onto the window sill and they carry on.

I’ve followed this trail of ants and it travels throughout my neighbourhood every day and goes away at night. It’s a long trail. I don’t know why they don’t come into the house.

Ants can tell their colony-mates by their distinct smell, but if an ant wanders off for too long it loses the smell. I don’t know what happens then, or if they can now join another colony because they are scentless.

Some indigenous groups in Northern Queensland have traditionally used the vitamin-rich green ant for medicinal purposes. I was once offered a green ant by an old lady so I could taste it. I didn’t want to kill the ant so she held it carefully and told me to lick it. I closed my eyes when I did so and ended up licking the old lady’s knuckle, which was weird. It tasted like a soft walnut. The ant tasted like a lime.




As you can see, with this exciting new enterprise at Born Dancin’, there are now even fewer reasons to bother visiting other sites on the internet!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Smattering of Responses


I did not like this piece. I mean, if you meet someone who “liked” it I’d suggest taking a few slow steps back while eyeing the exits. It’s not meant to be liked. But I didn’t appreciate it either. I thought it was exploitative torture porn. Like the Hostel or Saw films, but presented under the aegis of Greek tragedy and with the stamp of Barrie Kosky to make it ok to watch. It was a catalogue of horrors and a sensory assault on the audience. Deafening gunshots going off around the audience unexpectedly – and often – and degraded, brutalised women and children being murdered and raped and photographed. Ok, it’s in the script, it really happened, etc. but Kosky’s appropriation of imagery from Abu Ghraib and other contemporary sites of human depravity are gratuitous and, worse, wonderfully imaginative. The violence is artfully realised and even aestheticised at times.

The monstrosities of Abu Ghraib were made so much worse by the way they were recorded, and I’ve got a lot of thoughts about the complicity involved in viewing any of those images. Seeing violence makes the witness a part of the event, and staging it therefore carries with it a great burden of responsibility. In another context, Tommy Pynchon has written that “when we speak of ‘seriousness’ in fiction ultimately we are talking about an attitude toward death--how characters may act in its presence, for example, or how they handle it when it isn't so immediate.” I guess my problem is that The Women of Troy is to me no more meaningful or “serious” than a gross-out horror film, but at least Hostel challenges its audience by not pretending to be other than it is. I don’t know what this production is pretending to be. But I did not like it.


I liked this piece. When I was a professional rapper (c. 1997-2001) I learnt a lot about the relationship between spontaneous freestyling and pre-planned preparedness, and the Black Lung guys have this down pat. It’s like a post-Apocalyptic Moby Dick scripted by Takashi Miike. It’s complete anarchy, which can only be achieved through incredibly tight control. Someone who worked with Tim Etchells/Forced Entertainment recently told me that Etchells’ apparently chaotic works (like Bloody Mess) are the result of his being a complete fascist as a director. Which makes sense.

Here’s an awesome clip from the Wombles.

I haven’t seen Avast II: The Welshman Cometh but I’m up for it tomorrow night so I might report back then.


As theatre this new piece from Red Cabbage is a bit undercooked but as an installation experience it’s freaking incredible. It’s HUGE.


And it involves a boat trip, more post-apocalyptic imagery and some of the best set design you’ll ever see. Imagine a Hayloft piece mashed up with the vastness of Peepshow Inc’s Mysteries of the Convent and a bit of Herbertson/Cobham’s Sunstruck.

It’s vision of a bleak future veers well away from the Mad Max-style post-apoc imagery and instead tends toward the austere, sublime decay of Tarkovsky’s Stalker (closest comparison I could think of here). The audience travels on a long, meandering journey, and while our attention wasn’t controlled in the sophisticated way Mysteries of the Convent managed to achieve, Collapse is more interested in establishing multiple occurrences simultaneously (Greenaway is noted in the program as an influence in this regard). The result is that there’s not really a strong narrative to follow, but the cumulative effect of passing through increasingly astonishing set-pieces is stunning. Highly recommended – its good points more than make up for any shortcomings.


I really wanted to Cow. When I heard the title of this piece I was already sold, but when I read that an audience member would be given the opportunity to dress as a giant cow and receive on-the-spot directorial instructions from Margaret Cameron and Aphids’ David Young I signed up toot sweet. My girlfriend wasn’t so sold and it took a bit of convincing to get her along, but half an hour later she was wearing a massive cow costume, sunglasses and oversized headphones doing a naaaasty dance to the Flashdance theme in front of a decent audience. I felt a bit guilty. We were hearing a meditative eastern tune, after all, so it kind of looked as if she had gone mad and been possessed by the spirit of some erotic bovine deity. But it was luck-of-the-draw – four audience members were picked from a hat and suited up for the challenge. And everyone involved had a pretty good time. The piece itself needs some development, but it’s a work in progress so that’ll happen. I’m not entirely sure of the point but the show’s backbone seems to be an explora
tion of the relationships between audience and performer. I’ll be there next milking session.

Hmmm. I’ve seen a bunch of other things lately but am running out of steam. I’m really just waiting on a phone call regarding an EXCITING NEW ADVENTURE. Hint: giant clockwork cats, the Warren Beatty movie Shampoo, bluegrass music and an underground collective of grifters known as “the Knucklebone Boys”. Also: I have accepted that I will never in this life be able to “call in an airstrike” as sometimes happens in movies.


Monday, November 17, 2008



I know a lot of people have been clamouring at the gates demanding to know what happened to ANT FACT MONDAY.

The answer is complex but I will attempt to put this shit simply: this internet website blog has never had a thing called ANT FACT MONDAY and, furthermore, I have never referred (personally or professionally) to a thing called ANT FACT MONDAY.

Nevertheless, I will bow to the will of the people (cf. democracy) and institute a regularly occurring thing called ANT FACT MONDAY which will include MILDLY INTERESTING ANT FACTS.

First up today:


Ants have elbowed antennae.

Ants may be the only things beside humans to teach each other interactively - not by imitation but through instruction and feedback but not whiteboards.

Ants make up around 15% of the TOTAL biomass of animal life on the planet. That's heaps.

When ants find a bunch of food, they leave little pheromone markers along the route leading to it so other ants can come along too. That's why they travel along in lines like little highways.

Also, when they're going to and fro on their little highways, they stop and nudge each other on the nose for some reason. I know they don't actually have noses, but they definitely stop for a millisecond and butt heads. Maybe they're giving each other high fives or kisses or just saying hi. I am deeply curious about this phenomenon.


More facts next Monday probably.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008



I spent the first half of this production deeply perplexed. I'm a big fan of Gogol but couldn't work out where he found the time to write this sprawling play. I mean when he first hit the Western radar in 1977 it was deep in the Cold War where he managed to form an alliance with M that was to be strained but kept relatively civil in ensuing decades. He must have been working 24/7 when Hugo Drax built his space station and by 1983 he was having to bust General Orlov's ass for his crazy world-domination scheming.

He even put up with Pola Ivanova's bungling and was open-minded enough to award an Order of Lenin medal to a British spy. In short, he was a busy guy. So how did he manage to pump out a big play like this?


Then I realised that I was mixing my Gogols!


I should have been thinking of the Russian author Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol! And he didn't even write The Lower Depths, Maxim Gorky did! The one from Gorky Park!

Oh boy was I embarrassed.


I have a bit of a problem with Russian theatre. Not the recent stuff, just the classics. Actually, I suppose I have a problem with classics in general. I don't enjoy watching Chekhov but then I don't enjoy watching Brecht or Ibsen or Shakespeare either. There are exceptions - Hayloft's Platonov was great and I'm looking forward to Titus - but that's because the texts aren't handled with kid gloves in those cases.

I don't think Ariette Taylor's production of The Lower Depths handles the script too cautiously either, and it's a first-rate piece. The acting is outstanding and the design is beautiful (even if half the audience can't see one particular part of the space because it's behind them for some reason). I'm just not into Russian social realism of the early twentieth century. If I want to see people in blankets with hacking coughs struggling against institutionalised oppression and questioning the meaning of life I'll talk to people on Melbourne's streets. I like theatre that deals with that, not a La Boheme kind of romanticised impoverished past.

Then again, the classics are classics for a reason and this is a very good production of one of them. And I do think it's pretty ace that Gorky took on the name (not his real name) because it literally means "bitter". I left this show at interval, though, not through any fault of the production itself but just through my own inability to engage with the text. And I'm still dealing with the time, years ago, when I struggled through Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. Praised as it may be, that brick of a novel felt like a month of being whacked in the Gogols with a 1 kilo book.


Last night I went to Play:Ground in the Carlton Gardens. It’s a Master of Theatre Practice project about child soldiers. It is largely performed by children. As the program notes, though, it is also not suitable for children. I got there late, was up the back and didn’t have much of a clue as to what was happening so I’ll go again tonight. One of the cast bios is as follows: “i am six. i like to run. i have a dog. my dog’s name is nelly. i live near the city. if i was in war, i would hide.”


I also whipped up to The Village in Edinburgh Gardens afterwards to catch Scattered Tacks again. Brilliant stuff. It’s on again tonight at 8pm I believe.