Saturday afternoon, behind RMIT Gallery, in the middle of the city. Despite being mid May, the mild weather was kind for the crowd, and ditto the lack of rain for artist Joel Gailer, who was inking up the large wooden panels in preparation for skater Chris Buckman.
Performprint’s Beauty, bearings and irrelevance, a live performance art work on Saturday 21 May as part of RMIT Gallery’s printmaking exhibition Out of the Matrix, was engaging and atmospheric, with loud music pumping out of a boom box.
But it was the sound of the wheels on the white board that drew a crowd of young skaters down Rodda Lane, like seagulls lured by the smell of hot chips. They watched as Buckman made his mark, gliding the wheel’s carved words ‘vixen’, ‘matrix’, ‘singular’ ‘repeat’ and ‘give me relief’ over the ink and onto the prepared surface.
Gailer says that Buckman added his own authorship to the resulting work, requesting skating in four spots of ink rather than one, and determining when the image was finished.
There was no final bow to the audience, no round of applause – the skater and the artist wanted it that way, with the last roll of the carved skateboard wheels turning in the breeze and memory.
The print had emerged and rested temporarily for its photo call. The skaters lingered and then left to do their own skating at the nearby State Library forecourt. The rest of the audience chatted and took photos, then headed out into the afternoon.
For those who decided to get a closer look – well, they tracked home the inky residue on their shoes, collecting a printmaking memento. Just like Buckman’s hands.