Event Report: Dark MoFo Fest, Part 4Books/Art/Culture,News Spy Emerson
So….. The shit machine is real…. and I watched it poop…….!!!
The stench was overwhelming in the long stone room built around the machine in the basement of The Museum of Old and New Art. At 2:59 p.m., I knelt in front of the stainless metal tray at the far end of a series of Grecian Urn-inspired vessels containing stages of digestion hanging on a stainless track. The machine, having been fed Cafe scraps at one end, eventually takes a healthy shit on the other. It’s all chemistry and machinery, negating the body, as it challenges the notion of Fine Art. Wim Delvoye’s “Cloaca” is perfectly offensive and incredibly AMAZING!!! At 3 p.m. exactly, the tray lifted up to the stainless tube and, not unlike a soft serve ice cream machine, squirted out a stinky poo, while the crowd sighed in reverence.
Experiencing this happen, when the shit hit the tray, I was euphoric, and tears welled in my eyes driven by emotion (and quite possibly the horrible smell). Having traveled so far, from California to Tasmania with the focus being the MONA and all its spoils, Cloaca was fully realized in me. MONA’s collection of art was as fantastic as I dreamed it would be. Bold, funny and smart, from the construction of the building, bored into the rock cliff like a superhero’s hideout, to the delicacy of the vagina casts, over 100 wildly different in shape and size, emanating fearless body positivity. The Museum Of Old and New Art is intelligent and humorous… simple and profound… and of all the wonderful things I saw, the light installations best articulated this simple profundity.
Light played a significant and starring role at Dark MoFo, like the celebrity guest appearance. For Anthony McCall’s “Solid Light Works” a massive warehouse contained sculptures made from projected light. So stark was the negative/positive contrast, it messed with one’s equilibrium and understanding of dimensional space. Some people hesitated touching the light sculptures so not to disturb the works, while others played in the sculptures made of white light and smoke. To experience this installation, one had to trust in the blackness of the darkened warehouse where the senses were deadened, or hyper excited, accentuating that exact moment without the burden of consideration.
Rafael Lozano’s “Pulse Column” presented by Detached, was the piece that stayed with me, even now. By holding on to handles within a circle of high powered canister lights, one was able to beam their heart beat in solid bright light, into the night sky, to be seen anywhere within the city. I had read about it, and the proposed permanent tower Detached wants to build in Hobart, but only when I participated, did I really get it. To feel and see my heartbeat, that small personal thumping, cast in luminous grandeur, was profound beyond words. Following my experience, each time I saw that pulsing light in the sky, I recognized it as someone else’s heartbeat. The pulsing light connected us all to each other… and to outer space, and infinity.
Light illuminates the darkness, and the darkness allows the light to shine brightly. There is no separation, because the source is in everything, and everything is made of energy. Duality is a tricky illusion, as exhibited in the show Finitude at the Plimsoll Gallery. The works subtly dispelled the duality of life and death, exploring the freedom of physical (body) limitations. Talcum powder (used historically on both babies and dead bodies) pressed into a form is momentary, exemplified in dusty piles on the floor. Anne Scott Wilson’s piece Untitled (2005) presents a giant balloon floating and a giant balloon drooping, the rope between accentuating the connective tension inherent within duality.
Once dichotomy is dissipated, the sameness becomes evident in everything, as I realized by the end of Dark MoFo. I danced alone in crowds for 10 days’ time, and now the winter solstice was upon us… as was the sunrise swim in the freezing Derwent River. I had been mentally preparing for the celebratory dip for weeks. It was to be the breakthrough into dawn, the overcoming fears of the cold, of nakedness, of being open and exposed and vulnerable. What I hadn’t prepared for was meeting someone on the final night of the festival who would challenge me to abandon my plan. And then effortlessly, the darkness and light, the cold and heat, alone and together were all the same, and the fears were washed away by a wave of feelings, and absence of thoughts…. and if the ghosts that followed me were watching, then they were surely smiling.
Follow me on Instagram: spy.emerson. And you can see the shit machine in action here.