Exploring movement: Performing Mobilities opens at RMIT Gallery

Sam Trubridge performs Night Walk outside RMIT Gallery for the opening night of Performing Mobilities. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.
Sam Trubridge performs Night Walk outside RMIT Gallery for the opening night of Performing Mobilities. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.

At the opening night of Performing Mobilities at RMIT Gallery on 24 September, audiences explored a series of projects that captured the traces of journey based projects over the last year. These form part of the exhibition, together with a series of mobile performances taking place in the Gallery and around the Gallery environment. So it was fitting that Sam Trubridge’s Night Walk launched the event.

The ominous black plastic bubble moved up and down Swanston Street before oozing up the RMIT Gallery steps.

Trubridge, a New Zealand artist, said that the bubble – a two and a half metre diameter sphere made from black plastic bags – is very fragile. However, visibility inside the inflated shape is actually rather good – about the same as if he was wearing sunglasses. Good to know when navigating traffic in the city streets!

“I walk it through various passages in the city. And the idea is the fragility of this object kind of allows it to be marked by its passage and by the features of the landscape that passes through, creating a trace or a map of that journey. And it slowly disintegrates as it goes until it becomes more slick and oil like or liquid movement sort of type spherical piece of architecture to something disintegrated or more threatening or more ghostly,” Trubridge said.

Sam Trubridge performs Night Walk at the opening of Performing Mobilities at RMIT Gallery. Photo Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.
Sam Trubridge performs Night Walk at the opening of Performing Mobilities at RMIT Gallery. Photo Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.

Exhibition curator Dr Mick Douglas, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Architecture & Design at RMIT, said Performing Mobilities (25 September – 24 October) explores the tensions between increasing mobilities in a global sense and ways of performative creative arts practice, trying to directly engage with these problematics of mobility and immobility, of the uneven distribution of mobility.

“The exhibition presents new, experimental work that explores the mobility of people, migration, the mobility of matter, and the mobility of non human species,” he said.

“The curation of the program brings these different projects into a relationship with each other so that the different art of these mobilities brush up against each other to reveal something new to us about worlds in motion.”

Getting to grips with Kaya Barry's Pan which activates an accumulating collection of moving panoramic images. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.
Getting to grips with Kaya Barry’s Pan which activates an accumulating collection of moving panoramic images. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.

Performing Mobilities invites us to challenge ourselves about the way in which we think about and experience mobility. The exhibition was opened by Professor Maaike Bleeker, President of Performance Studies international (Psi), and Chair of Theatre Studies, Utrecht University.

The series of projects in different ways challenge us to re-engage in a way in which mobility affects us in our everyday lives, challenges us to think about our relationships to territory, to land, to the relationship with borders and how borders are monitored.

Playing around with David Thomas & Laurene Vaughan's participatory performance work
Playing around with David Thomas & Laurene Vaughan’s participatory performance work “Taking a Line for a Walk’. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.

A number of projects invite you to leave the Gallery with a particular aspect of an artwork, some of the mobile performances invite you to walk with the artist encountering the city through the lens of the artist. Douglas explains “It starts to have us rethink and reimagine these relationships between our embodied experience and mobility and its significance in the world today.”

Douglas said some projects such as ‘A few Steps Not Here Not There’ by Mammad Aidani, Omid Movafgh, Mike Fard, Moshen Panahi and Hada Kazemitame is an installation exploring asylum seekers’ experiences of displacement. Dr Mammad Aidani has a PhD in hermeneutics and phenomenological psychology, and an MA in sociolinguistics and identity. His current research project focuses on perceptions, interpretations and ways of trauma and suffering amongst Iranian diaspora men.

“The project undertaken by Iranian asylum seekers, over two generations opens up to us ways of thinking about experience of asylum seeking,” Douglas said.

“What it is trying to do is help refugees come to terms to living in a new city, to explore the tensions between one place of origin and a place of current inhabitation.”

“A few Steps Not Here Not There’ creates an intimate setting for experiencing the looping film and encountering the original text of this installation exploring asylum seekers’ experience of displacement. Photo: Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.

The works in the program are all experimental and new works from the Australasian region. They particularly try and explore the local relevance but also the global relevance in mobilities.

Douglas said that Graham Miller’s work is the only internationally invited work and it plays a really pivotal role in helping us negotiate this tension between locality and globality.

“His project Beheld has been documenting where stowaways have fallen to ground from planes. It’s a really haunting project that reveals to us an Australian incident of this tragic circumstance of desperate forms of migration,” Douglas said.

Graeme Miller (left) and Mammad Aidani contemplate the latest Australian based addition of Miller's installation Beheld, which documents sites where stowaways have tragically fallen from planes. This was taken at Sydney airport, which was the site of such an accident in 1970. Photo; Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.
Graeme Miller (left) and Mammad Aidani contemplate the latest Australian based addition of Miller’s installation Beheld, which documents sites where stowaways have tragically fallen from planes. This was taken at Sydney airport, which was the site of such an accident in 1970. Photo; Vicki Jones Photography, 2015.

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