LEFT FIELD [for Robert Hunter], 2017
Dual-channel High Definition video installed in Built replica of Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 2019
Robert Hunter (1947-2014) was an Australian artist whose obsessive pursuit of minimal-abstraction is demonstrated in his white-on-white geometric compositions and white wall paintings. At Carriageworks, the documentation of LEFT FIELD is presented in mirror image, a reference to Parr’s self-portraiture as well as the creation of the original event’s eternal return.
In November 2017 when conceiving of The Eternal Opening at Carriageworks, Mike Parr wrote:
“My enthusiasm for Robert’s work and our friendship goes back to 1971, when we included his work in an exhibition of 4 artists from Pinacotheka Gallery Melbourne at Inhibodress.
LEFT FIELD at Anna Schwartz Gallery (ASG) Melbourne required all of the main ground floor gallery. Except for 2 x 55 inch plasma screens, which had been set at the mid-point of the left-side long wall, the gallery was empty and the screens remained blank. As the opening night crowd arrived I began over-painting the white wall using a roller and the same white paint normally used by the gallery. I was accompanied by Gotaro [Uematsu], Zan [Wimberley] and Robert Campbell, Anna’s long-time installer and gallery manager. A closely co-ordinated team. I methodically climbed up a ladder, down a ladder painting the length of the wall in sections determined by the area of view of a fixed videocamera set back close to the opposite gallery wall. Gotaro filmed in close with a second camera, Zan took stills and Robert managed the incremental moves down the wall, while the audience milled in the space. The painting took about 2 hours. I left the space as soon as I’d finished and the team cleared the gear. Visitors to the gallery next day could see the documentation of this performance playing as a 2 channel installation on the 55 inch screens. This residue and the empty gallery were the work for the next three weeks.
After the performance a number of people wanted to talk to me about the behaviour of the audience. The audience had become increasingly noisy as people drank, socialised and asserted themselves. I was unconcerned by this. I rather liked this increasing hubbub, but in the aftermath I’ve thought more about this “materialization” as an aspect of the event that could be amplified.
This unplanned aspect of performance art can be very revealing. I can remember commenting in the aftermath of Kingdom Come and/or Punch Holes in the Body Politic at Artspace in 2005 which had ended in an extraordinary, unanticipated way, that the unprecedented state-of-affairs might be the real point of performance art because it is the outcome that no-one, neither the artist nor the audience fully controls and that it is this meteorite rather than the logic of the event [which is always very important for my work] that is the critical impetus for performance art as such. The meteorite produces a tremendous “over exposure” and incommensurate things stick out.
Thinking like this I now want to describe my re-conceptioning/re-staging of LEFT FIELD as The Eternal Opening.”