Arts Review: 48HR Incident - 4A Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art , Sydney (29.05.15 to 31.05.15)

A man and a woman are poised to start a wrestling match.

48HR Incident at 4A Centre for Contemporary Chinese Art saw artists from Australia, Asia and the Pacific inhabit the gallery space in varying degrees over the course of three days. With the aim of challenging pre-existing social frameworks of the individual in relation to the group, I admired the overarching set-up and concept of 48HR Incident. Over the course of the three days the gallery remained open late and the fact that audience members could wander in and out at will and see exceptional performance work at all hour of the night gave a sense of freedom and spontaneity not often associated with galleries. I managed to see three works over the course of the exhibition - Latai Taumoepeau’s Dark Continent, Frances Barrett’s The Wrestle and Tony Schwensen’s SCABLAND.

In the front gallery space was Latai Taumoepeau performing her work Dark Continent. The artist stands on a platform in her underwear and begins to spray herself with tanning lotion. There is something incredibly hypnotic in the artist’s actions as she sways and bends, her movements fluid and sure. With a practice which explores race, class, the female body and reflects stories of her homeland, Dark Continent uses the technique of spray tan to explore ritualistic dark skin practices and Australian nationalism.

Upstairs was the interactive work by Frances Barrett, The Wrestle (pictured top). Having trained for weeks with Commonwealth Wrestling Athlete Carissa Holland, Barrett and 4A curator Toby Chapman initiated a showdown in the gallery. If Barrett wins, her artist fee is doubled, if Chapman wins, he keeps his pride. Holland acted as the adjudicator and the atmosphere in the gallery was electric. Cat-calls, cheering and anticipation were on the menu and the artist did not disappoint. While I was barracking for Barrett unfortunately it was a landslide victory to Chapman, although there was one particular moment when Barrett had him in a head-lock that was a crowd pleaser. I absolutely loved this work and the idea that an artist can use their practice to debate their worth in the most unconventional way. A brilliant and playful concept that was both engaging and blissfully entertaining.

The word LABOUR is spelled out across the gallery wall as the artist removes eac

On day two I headed in to see Tony Schwensen’s SCABLAND, a 12 hour durational performance. I confess I did not remain for the full 12 hours but I did stay for one. In a work conceived especially for 48HR Incident, the artist set up a makeshift workshop in the second floor of the gallery. A large pile of MDF boards lay behind him and he began to cut each board, with the help of some power tools, into a letter. Once the letter was cut, he secured it to the wall of the gallery and painted around it. Once the next letter was secured he removed the first and leant it against the wall. I saw the completion of two letters, but I believe that over the course of the 12 hours the words extended over the entire gallery space. Reflecting Schwensen’s interest in the history of the labour movement and how it relates to the leisure class in Australia, SCABLAND, even in the mere hour that I saw, was an intense display of endurance.


For more information on the event, click here: