Monday 20 May 2019

Six Moments In Kingston - Public Art Review

What: Six Moments In Kingston
When: 18 - 26 May 2019
Where: Kingston Town Hall
Created by: Tal Fitzpatrick, Kingston Koorie Mob, Laresa Kosloff, Shane McGrath, Spiros Panigirakis, and Steven Rhall
Performed by: Filipino Community Choir, Shane McGrath, Steven Rhall, et al.
Filipino Community Choir
Every suburb in every city across the world is a secret little hotbed of history and fascinating stories and Six Moments in Kingston is a sneak peak of just what kind of exciting and surprisingly important historical moments have taken place in Kingston. Purporting to cover a period from 1976 - 1981 this bus tour and public art event covers a period much greater than that with roots all the way back to WWI at least, and with strong links into what the future could hold.

Curated by David Cross and Cameron Bishop, Six Moments in Kingston includes a joyful, painful and mysterious collection of people and moments brought to life in a variety of mediums by local artists. There are videos, performance art, museum tours, and craftivism filling the supposedly 1 hour bus tour although my tour ended up being about 2 hours long. Maybe we were all just having way to much fun?

What I will say is an event like this is really as much or as little fun as you want it to be. Those who know me know I really like to get involved and respond to what is happening around me and I really think that is the only way to enjoy something of this sort. You also have the ability to sit back and wait to be 'entertained' in which case you may not have the best time of your life. Just like all of life, it is your choice. What you bring to it is what you will get out of it.

One of the resounding themes throughout the piece, perhaps surprisingly, is the role of protest and resistance and its effect on communities. This is the focus of Rhall's 4 installations across the event. Rhall has sought out significant moments of civil resistance such as a protest at the old Morris smokes factory and a tent protest outside city hall to illustrate how change is activated in community. In his piece protest he creates a performance installation which takes a historic worker's strike and subtly insinuates modern concerns such as racial and gender stereotyping to give it a contemporary edge.

The bus tour is narrated by Michael Caton who tells us stories as we come up to sites of significance in his wonderfully local vernacular. You do have to listen to what he is saying though or you will miss important information because none of the installations give context in and of themselves as some people discovered to their disappointment on the tour I was on.

Panigirakis invites us to consider bureaucracy as a form of art as he takes us to some heritage sites such as the Great Wall of Hillston. Along the way we are give copies of planning documents in his piece 'Figures, Notes and Amendments' which we can read through and ponder and chuckle at on the way to his family home.

We visit Moorabbin Oval where Phil Carman famously headbutted an umpire one fateful footy game day. Kosloff has created a wonderful video installation investigating that moment and I couldn't stop laughing as it brought to mind the Italian soccer team scandal a couple of World Cup's ago. With a slightly naughty edge it is also a heart warming homage to a game which means so much to so many Melbournians.

I was delighted to discover Melbourne has its own UFO sighting theory and I also got to indulge my inner Biggles nerd as we were told the tale of Fred Valentich and the day his plane went missing on the way to King Island. Did you know Moorabbin Airport is so big it is its own suburb? Did you know it is the 2nd busiest airport in Australia? I had no idea! And did you know Kingston is the home of the Australian National Aviation Museum?

The aviation museum is the only one in the world where you are allowed to sit in nearly every plane in the collection and they have all sorts! They have 1 of only 5 Beaufighters left in the world and they have a Victor lawn mower next to the plane which has a Victor engine. The mind boggles!

'Delta Sierra Juliet' tells us the story, and shows us the plane Fred Valentich flew on his fateful flight. We also hear some of the search investigation documents, statements and findings. This one is a conspiracy theorist's dream and on the bus some women started talking about UFO sightings over suburban schools!

The highlight for me was McGrath's performance march to the Parkdale childhood home of Rick Springfield. As we marched we sang along to 'Jessie's Girl' and as we came across a figure with a guitar rockin' out on the tale of a ute I begged him to let me have his babies. Some of us just never grow up...

There was so much else to enjoy on this tour including Fitzpatrick's entree into craftivism. I think though, in quieter moments on the bus, one of the things I enjoyed most was just seeing the suburban streets and contemplating how they are the same everywhere but how each one has it's own little stamp of unique identity - be it the garden, the fence, the cars, the curtains, the toys, etc. It also had me thinking how rare it is for us to take the time to just walk around our own suburbs and really look at the place and people we share our little piece of the world with.

Personally, I really enjoyed this insight into Kingston. I enjoyed it for the stories it told, but I also enjoyed it for the prompt it gave me to look more closely at the stories which surround me. I am also on the hunt for my very own local Rick Springfield now. And remember - 'Don't Talk To Strangers'. Just a warning though, this is not really an accessible event. If you can't walk without a mobility device you will struggle as there is a lot of getting on and off the bus and some walking and stairs.

3.5 Stars

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