When: June 18-27
Created by: Gorkem Acaroglu, Reverse Butcher, Dagmara Gleysztor, Shane Grant, Robert Jordan, Brienna Macnish, Zoe Meagher, Vissolela Ndenzako, Elnaz Sheshgelani, Kyle Supski, Aseel Tayah, Lara Thoms, Greg Ulfan, and Chi Vu.
Live art – what the hell is it? Nobody knows – or at least that is what I thought until I saw 10CS at Metanoia. Suddenly the whole thing made sense in a multilayered sensorially overloaded kind of way.
10CS is a live art project initiated by Metanioa as part of their first ‘promoted’ season at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute. In my interview with the Metanoia team (Grant, Acaroglu, and Ulfan)in May, they talked about their vision being to create innovative and contemporary work with great artists. They are focussed on “…a diversity of artists creating in and using the space for different kinds of work.”
And thus was born the idea for 10CS. Grant, Ulfan, and Acaroglu brainstormed the concept and then invited eight hand picked artists to participate and respond according to their own personal arts practice.
10CS is shorthand for the Ten Commandments which have a commonality across all the Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity). Set up as a moral code for conduct for the human race, each artist was invited to choose a commandment they felt a connection with – other positive or negative.
What has emerged is a poignant, funny, confronting, and insightful experience which is so intrinsically experiential it is hard to talk about with words. Every nook and cranny in the venue has been used but each piece feels so right and complete that there is not really any sense that things have been forced to fit in inappropriate places.
The responses vary wildly from roving performance, to dance, to conversation, to computer games, etc… Greeted at the door by the golden calf (IVIE Irrepressible), we were handed a map showing where in the building we could experience the various commandments.
One of the wonderful things about 10CS is that you construct your own journey and experience. There are no rules regarding the order in which you travel through the commandments. For responses that have a strict performative structure, such as ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ created by Grant, performed by Richard Hallal), and to a lesser extent ‘Honour Thy Father and Thy Mother’ (Butcher and Supski) there are several ‘sessions’ so you can catch an iteration at various points in the evening.
Other pieces such as ‘Thou Shalt Not Bare False Witness Against Thy Neighbour’ (created by Ulfan, discussed by Ilan Abrahams, Rida Khan, and Ian Ferguson) are just continuous throughout the night, so you can sit down and have a listen at any time and then move on if and when you feel like it. The only strict attendance performance is Vu’s ‘Thou Shalt Not Kill’ which is a one on one experience which is scheduled by getting your name on a list.
There are also roving performances which include Tayah’s response to ‘Thou Shalt Not Take the Lord’s Name In Vain’, the golden calf, and Hallal as a Beagle Boy from the Uncle Scrooge comics.
The running time of the event is somewhat dependent on the size of the audience, but on the night I was there it continued for about an hour. This means that there is a good chance you won’t see everything the first time, but you will be so intrigued and challenged by what you have seen you will definitely want to come back to catch what you missed and re-experience the moments that resonated the deepest.
I ran the gamut of emotions. In ‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ Hallal was hilarious re-enacting a bank robber with a very, very serious drill and a house brick. The story gets more serious as he has to sign away his personal information and rights for a bowl of noodle soup. In the space next to him, hidden by a black screen we could hear the wailing of Sheshgelani as she interprets ‘Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery’.
On top of that we hear the reinforced discussion of Ulfan’s discussion. You might think this was distracting or annoying but this is where the genius of Acaroglu’s artistic direction comes into play.
The overarching sense was the cacophony and confusion of life as these rules and regulations are thrown at us and we are left to interpret them as best we can whilst constantly interacting with all of them at the same time. If only life was as simple as being able to shut external noise off as you deal with one thing at a time.
I can’t pick any favourites because all of the responses are layered and textured and raise far more questions than they answer. What I can tell you is that this event is a true reflection of the diversity and complexity of Australian society in our day and age. The questions it is asking are questions for our time, as are the dilemmas the dilemmas of our time.
10CS is a one off event which will never again occur, and when it is gone there will be a great loss. My one hope and wish is that this so very significant event is being archived well.