THROUGH THE CRACKS: Site Responsive Installations Created To Connect

By Zoe Street

Venues at Crack Theatre Festival are always a challenge for artists as we love to steer away from traditional performance spaces. This year, our Setting the Stages crew from Tasmania are welcoming this challenge with open arms and taking over the liminal spaces in the Elderly Citizens Centre with their curated installation exhibition Things Might Have Changed. This work is brought to us by Constance ARI, an artist run initiative work that aims to initiate critical dialogue in the Tassie arts community and beyond. Things Might Have Changed will see Lucy Parakhina from Constance ARI curating two works by artists Dexter Rosengrave and Elissa Ritson whose two individual works will make up an audio, video and photographic installation that will both respond to and transform the Newcastle Elderly Citizens Centre for the duration of the Festival.

The artists in Things Might Have Changed are connected by the site-responsive nature of their work that connects to the environment they are inhabiting. However in saying that, both artists are very much creating their own individual pieces.

For her exhibition, titled,Mollie, age 5’  Dexter Rosengrave has collaborated with a five year old girl Mollie to explore the intersection of memory and imagination. Dexter gave us a little insight into this collaboration and how it shaped the work: “Mollie was asked to take one image a day with a disposable camera. These images will then be developed and then an interview will be conducted with Mollie where she will be questioned on her intention for each image. All her images plus her interview and personalised disposable camera will be included in the show”.

Dexter’s collaboration with Mollie is driven by her desire as an artist to highlight the perspectives and experiences that are often disregarded or hidden. She hopes to offer a “real insight into youthful innocence” that evokes “positive feelings whilst simultaneously having a nostalgic undertone”. Collaborating with five year old Mollie sounds like it will definitely give an insight into a world we rarely experience (and have forgotten) as adults and collaborating with a child has definitely had me rethinking the agency of children.

Now let’s take a rapid turn with the work of Elissa, who has created Cut Today, Sold Today’, an installation performance piece that explores the creation of intimacy between an audience member and an absent performer. She creates this experience by creating an audio recording that audiences interact and connect with, in the way that we form a connection to writers and characters in text. As an artist, Elissa ‘seek[s] bodily and philosophical expansion through acts of erotic existence’ so I think we might be in for an erotic twist in this experimental performative installation: “I want to ignite something of the contradictory mess of being. It may not always be comfortable, but I’d like to think it is as beautiful as it is ugly.” Through this work Elissa hopes that audiences will get the sense of having interacted with somebodyas she states. “I try to present things in a way that rewards deeper engagement. This mimics human exchange by correlating an investment of presence to intimacy.”

Whilst both artists are exploring different subject matter, they are both faced with the challenge of creating a work for a space that they won’t see until they are about to present it. This obstacle has affected both artists in their creative processes as they needed to create material that will change and adapt when they get to Newcastle in order to respond to the venue and social environment. Dexter is more excited than challenged by this prospect – She’s ready with a portable and flexible work. Elissa is prepared with an evolving kit of materials and lots of tape.

Nothing in Things Might Have Changed is certain. And that makes me even more excited to see how these two great gals transform the Elderly Citizens Centre to become a place of youthful innocence and everyday erotica.

What the artists are all about:

Dexter – uncovering the hidden, social issues, photography
Elissa – deep engagement, erotic existence, limitations

A tiny taster of what’s to come:

Mollie, age 5 – reminiscent, delicate & curious.
Cut Today, Sold TodayAsexual terrestrial erotica

Constance ARI Artists Dexter Rosengrave and Elissa Ritson are our Setting the Stages artists from TAS. Explore Things Might Have Changed from Friday 30 Sep – Sunday 2 Oct at Elderly Citizen’s Centre.