March 2008

puppets to a higher power, we are the dead, driving in our cars (after Virilio, & further, albeit tangentially, rather than illustratively, to the previous post: the endless and erotic fascination of the endlessly posable crash test cadaver or dummy; crash test sex)

we now know how much it takes to injure every major bone and organ in the body …

if humans are packaged carefully they can withstand even severe smashes …

The work began in the late 1950s, at Wayne State University in Detroit. The first part of the body to be studied was the head.

Initially the experiments were fairly primitive. Embalmed corpses from the university medical school were dropped down a disused lift shaft onto a metal plate. It turned out that the head was surprisingly strong – it could take a load of about a ton and a half for a fraction of a second without injury.

Cadaver testing has continued ever since. … all manufacturers make use of the data from the experiments performed primarily in the USA, France, Germany, and Japan.

Everything from the larynx to the patella has been smashed …

it’s never been fully accepted that this is a fitting use for the dead.

And there are the children. Child crash protection is hampered by the lack of information about children’s tolerance to impact – and the only way to provide that data is to perform experiments on dead children – which at the moment, none of the major car producing nations will permit.

– text by Sam Roberts for Horizon, a programme made for the BBC, 1998

See also Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, Norton, 2003

Paris Hilton Autopsy, sculpture by Daniel Edwards

the Hilton sculpture has an open abdominal cavity and its innards are removable, as if the Simple Life star were really being splayed out for an autopsy. All of the internal organs have been rendered to scale and visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to don a pair of gloves and pick through the plaster-and-clay remains.

– emailkey


Comments Off on puppets to a higher power, we are the dead, driving in our cars (after Virilio, & further, albeit tangentially, rather than illustratively, to the previous post: the endless and erotic fascination of the endlessly posable crash test cadaver or dummy; crash test sex)


the empiricist & rationalist ego + apoptotic representation? further to earlier posts, 5 & 7 September 2007

without an intuition of the whole personality, the isolated state is meaningless. Empiricism, laments Bergson, is convinced that by putting together all its diagrammes of isolated psychical states, it can reconstitute the personality, which it then takes to be a hoplesslessly fragmented ego. Rationalism tries to unite these states in the unity of an ego but hopes to constitute this unity out of its analyses, whereas such a unity can be nothing but a form without a content. In the end, both approaches spatialise the ego: empiricism makes it a place constructed by the endless addition of psychical states, whereas rationalism makes it a place where those states are lodged, a space with no content of its own, filled to infinity with states.

… Bergson writes disdainfully, nothing is easier than to say that the ego is multiple, or that it is a unity, or that it is a synthesis of these; but these kinds of unity and multiplicity are nothing but representations chosen from a heap. …

“Our speculations have suggested that Eros operates from the beginning of life and operates as a ‘life instinct’ in opposition to the ‘death instinct,’ [however] the pleasure principle seems actually to serve the death instincts.” [Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle]

In place of Eros and Mnemosyne, we are left with “a narcissistic Ego without memory – a great amnesiac – and a loveless and desexualised death instinct.” [Deleuze, Difference and Repetition] In place of the erotic and reminiscent ego whose memory repeats and so creates the world anew in each moment, Freud leaves us with a “dead body.”

– Dorothea Olkowski, Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation, Uni. of California Press, London, 1999, pp. 175-6

a T-cell (orange) killing a cancer cell (mauve), courtesy Dr. Andrejs Liepins, Science Photo Library


Comments Off on the empiricist & rationalist ego + apoptotic representation? further to earlier posts, 5 & 7 September 2007


was goin on?

Melancholia by Jacek Malczewski

… from the darkness, the very subjectivity, in which I’m sunk. The battle rages. Meanwhile, it’s all the rage. Observed suspended and arcing towards the viewer, stopped briefly, to sit on a window-ledge, continuing, growing old, younger – dying in the middle – sweeping, a horde, across the floor of the studio – brick, it would seem – a red flag, like a billboard, a black, then, less a flag or gonfalon than a winding-sheet, white, unwound, retreating in a compact and concentrated movement, as if repelled, towards the viewer, away from the view, where death makes a point, some logical sophistry, no doubt, beginning in the painter, in his slump, his palette held away, off, useless, and, meanwhile, life, shown as violent movement, charged, counter-charged, magnetised, polar and polarised, one Pole repelled by its opposite (!), furious, incomplete, in a semi-gyre, ajar, like disbelief, suspended, floating above, with all its intensity, not just itself – as if I could rise above it! – melancholia, sunk, that is, to a level above the bottom, above the ground, scattered across the artist’s studio like eggshells, like animal skins and plant husks, seedpods, while formed still, suspended still, furious and alive, still, … exploding into more shells and eggs and seeds and … held here. Held.

Now all of the struggling, the battle, the war eats itself, chooses now to sit down at the table, a formal punctuation point, to stop and eat itself. And the whole history of struggle with all of its attendant risks waits, just waits, until that animal has finished eating. It’s as if it was all for nothing and could only ever be for nothing.

In Jacek Malczewski’s painting we see him slide in an incomplete spiral in a cone of pure memory, complete at every instant and curving away from death. Only to arrive back in the middle, the empty view, in answer to which, in the painting, death raises a hand. An empty hand. Makes a pointless point.


Comments Off on was goin on?



memories of war, rape, near-fatal accidents, and collapsing buildings aren’t like other memories. They are kept separate in the mind. I remembered the images from PET scans of PTSD patients and the coloured highlights showing increased blood flow to the right brain and to the limbic and paralimbic areas, the old brain in evolutionary terms, and decreased flow to the left cortical areas, the language sites. Trauma doesn’t appear in words, but in a roar of terror, sometimes with images. Words create the anatomy of a story, but within that story there are openings that can’t be closed.

– Siri Hustvedt, The Sorrows of an American, Sceptre, G.B., 2008, p. 85 [my emphasis in scale]


Comments (1)


national point size & the balls to use it, or living with prolepsis, or how I was pistaken, before & after: pretentious notes on Tristan O’Shannessy’s Kindling, poster art, presently a work in progress

Kindling sounds childish, as if it were the diminutive form of a kind, a pet-name for a unique kind, not German at all. And nothing to do with fardels or faggots. In Kindling, an exhibition of graphic works, it is this sense of the graphic and graphic sense which comes to the surface: original graphic design shown as poster art. This sense, before the fire.

– work in progress, courtesy Tristan O’Shannessy

We are not artists. We are not painters. We are a nation of graphic designers, not shopkeepers, but close. The spectre of a drawing, the image of a graphism, haunts New Zealand’s fine art tradition, ghosting it from the time it was born. And, as is the rule with any critique of art, or internal examination, the small box is bigger than the one it is inside. Contemporary experience might dictate that it is the graphic element, as a combination of textual and pictorial contents in modes of form borrowed from and endorsed by popular and commercial media, graphism, which is pregnant?

Just as we have neither a literature, nor writers who can claim to have grown up with a literary tradition, and are, it sometimes seems, a nation of children’s book writers, so we prefer Tintin to Titian. Our native preference is for Herge’s ligne claire over the adumbrative, the suggestive, against the undertow of an encumbered or infolded line – which already counts out everything from the Baroque to the Symbolist. Is it because we, children of the ‘green ghetto,’ are somehow predisposed towards it? Or does this line exist for the sake of a childlike character? Does it draw us on? Out?

What is the appeal of the clear line?

And then, what expressive medium doesn’t make use of graphic design? Isn’t it the fittest? The most effective arrangement of text and picture? Graphic design is honed for survival, an instrument capable of generating markets, and, on the way producing its own: as if it were the very medium of which McCluhan always already wrote.

But this is the point: there is something childish in the pursuit of communicative transparency; something about pursuing clarity which is exactly not about clarity or vitality or, even, novelty, let alone about the simplicity that contrasts with the sophistication of a certain ‘dying ember’ decadence, European, Belgian, for example. None of these, anyway, are sought for their own sake. Rather the appeal is latent in the kindling. It has a character which is determinedly basic in its psychology, childlike in its capacity to attract and attach.

Because we are a small country; because we are a young country; because the messages sent out by art have to work to sell themselves to a tiny population:

Sentiments, rather than arguments, indicating graphism’s place at the heart of endemic cultural production. Reciprocally, it is the character of that heart – of its affectivity – which is produced as ‘small’ and ‘young’ in a politics of representation. To determine exactly this character, in order that we can later recognise ourselves in the stories we tell, in the pictures we draw, we make graphic images which not only project and depict it, but are transparencies, optical lenses, through which it is visibly produced as an effect.

This representational relation we know as one to one, immediate: I AM. The appeal of the image, likewise its ability to intervene, optically, is predicated on immediacy: graphic, iconic, autographic.

The image, pictorial, textual, regardless of whatever optical effects it may have, is, above all, transparent. And it lacks a signature. Able to be attributed, graphic works generally remain unsigned. Modesty prevails as to attribution, here too, due to a reluctance to either prejudice the one-to-one representational relation or restrict the circulation of the image, in keeping with an economy of scale.

As to authorship, a protocol obtains, whereby a commercial client buys the silence of the author if he is small or, if great and if his greatness will further glorify the client, the noise of his name. Notwithstanding this commonplace arrangement, the name is usually a noise best excluded from the graphic surface, an exclusion promoting the notion of immediacy, understood as the absence of agency or mediation.

Without a name, no one intercedes between me and the self produced in the work. Nothing interrupts the totalisation of the picture plane to include me. But, more significantly, no one stops a process I want to think I’ve initiated: that of entering into a one-to-one abiotic relation of self and image.

The illusion to sustain is that of a two-dimensional symmetry: the graphic work, a unidimensional totality, takes nothing to itself from being seen, carries no extra weight, gains no gravity, becomes its very modest self, planar. Laminating the relation, the work remains, on the face of it, totally light, clear, fresh and free to circulate.

The impersonality of the graphic work is, in addition, that which leads the person or persons responsible to flee the surface scene, because of the potential for actual violence, a potential constitutionally bound in the image. And unbound in the self produced optically, under its lens. Agency, then, is withdrawn in case of a culpability for an act of violence, which would, in turn, also have been graphic.

More than modesty, the author’s anautographism entails taking a step away from the surface, a step further away than that already made when a ‘designer’ deals with the work as design, a self-effacement in keeping with the illusion of the image’s self-sufficiency. ‘Designer,’ ‘engineer,’ mechanist: because it should be apparent that there is both a mechanics of the graphic and an economy, which together clarify its position within a politics of representation.

The graphic image seizes on the critical continuum, that runs from obscurity to clarity, but actually works on the principle that size matters. Scale or operations of scale, which are definitely not 1:1, are and have been taking place out on the design field from the very first impression, the one that counts, immediately.

What else is at stake here but the pathos of Kindling, as a kind of diminution? Human-scale here means a reduction. We prefer the graphic image because it flatters us, before it flattens us. It caters to our childish predilections, as well as acknowledging our modesty; our suspicion of the intellectual, of sophistication; our fear of being taken in. We prefer its simplicity and the clarity with which it communicates, to the complexity and wilful indistinctness of art. We commend its democratising ethos, in contrast to any kind of elitism, artistic, or otherwise. In its popularity, we celebrate our sense of belonging; in its saturation of the mediascape, we identify with the messages that come to us: they come to us in text and picture so basic, if well designed, that their images are transparent to us, as we and our desires are to them. The sine qua non of graphic design has to be just such a transparent alphabet. However, we are not reduced to signs or symbols by the graphic work. It reduces us in size and scale.

Graphism is a force to shrink humans, as much as shrink-wrap human aspiration. However, this leaves out the inflationary part, the adding of value: the immodest talking up to sell how characteristically unassuming we are goes without being talked up. Once we are sold, attached to the modesty of its claims, to its self-deprecating humour, so not clever-clever, its appeal can be put down to a sense of the graphic image itself ‘sucking in,’ in reverse zoom. A ‘sucking in’ in which we are sucked in. To see the image blown up, posterised, is to encounter the contrary and complementary part of a kind of cycle to this ‘sucking in.’

A rhythm ensues over the two poles of graphic art, of (poster) art and (graphic) design: in just such an exhibition, a pathos of diminution, graphically represented, alternates with a dilatatory art practice, systole to diastole. Or, we are alternately sucked in and blown up.

– work in progress, courtesy Tristan O’Shannessy

In fact, we are sucked in to being blown up.

Until, facing diminishing returns, at a certain scale, and without necessarily losing any clarity, graphic sense implodes. And, after punctuating the end of the rule of representation over the graphic image with a giant full stop, art takes over. And, having caught alight, we are on fire.


Comments Off on national point size & the balls to use it, or living with prolepsis, or how I was pistaken, before & after: pretentious notes on Tristan O’Shannessy’s Kindling, poster art, presently a work in progress


the case for innovation in dissidence or contemporary yurodstvo

– Joseph Stalin, 1878-1953, the pin-up of the purges

They say that I stood too close to power. An optical illusion.

– Dmitri Shostakovich, quoted by Solomon Volkov in Testimony, in Ian McDonald, The New Shostakovich, new edition revised by Raymond Clarke, Pimlico, London, 2006, p. 2

Don’t try to save humanity all at once, try saving one person first. It’s a lot harder. To help one person without harming another is very difficult. It’s unbelievably difficult. That’s where the temptation to save all of humanity comes from. And then, inevitably, along the way, you discover that all humanity’s happiness hinges on the destruction of a few hundred million people, that’s all. A trifle. Nothing but nonsense in the world, Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol once said. It’s that nonsense that I try to depict.

– Dmitri Shostakovich, in ibid.


Comments Off on the case for innovation in dissidence or contemporary yurodstvo


but the numbness is new?

Taken together, the titles in the notebook testify to a great and fundamental confidence in bourgeois culture. I do not ever remember asking myself whether I should go beyond Kafka, Frisch, Johnson, Bachmann, and Lenz, and read experimental literature, literature in which I did not recognise the story or like any of the characters. To me it was obvious that experimental literature was experimenting with the reader, and Hanna didn’t need that and neither did I.

– Bernhard Schlink, The Reader, trans. Carol Brown Janeway, Phoenix, London, 1997, p. 183


Comments Off on but the numbness is new?


abstract particularity of the ground and molten underground

the fixity of the natural material world is the ground of the fixity of the social world. For liberalism, fixed and knowable nature guarantees hierarchical order and grounds representation and truth.

– Dorothea Olkowski, Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation, Uni. of California Press, Los Angeles, 1999, p. 5

Since the law is the ground on which all things grow, there are no escape routes that lead into the earth.

– Dr. K. in study for a passion, II.ii.


Comments Off on abstract particularity of the ground and molten underground


please explain, Simon Taylor, the misunderstanding that has led to the cancellation of study for a passion @ City Art Rooms without causing it, without having the peripheral effect of closure, and returned the two worlds, the one vital, the other visual, between which the misunderstanding is said to have arisen, each to itself, and both somehow poorer

I am perpetuating the misunderstanding. Continuing to misunderstand. Perhaps wilfully. A determined misunderstanding, then, in my position that the gallery, City Art Rooms, withdrew its support from my production of study for a passion [see previous post].

Young Han Sun, curator at CAR, in an e-mail circulated to parties directly interested, announced the cancellation of study yesterday. Why was I so previous? Or was Young tardy?

Young doesn’t say CAR withdrew support. He concedes that there were “basic misunderstandings about the operations and funding model of the project,” that had come “to a head in the past week,” but doesn’t go into what they consisted in or in what way they persisted, until, taking on abysmal proportions, the production was sucked down into them, lost for good, off the map, in a barranca, somewhere between CAR’s position and mine.

Young leaves out where the gallery stood or stands, apart from expressing his heaviness of heart at having to make the announcement. “Unfortunately,” he writes, and: “This was not an easy decision to make.”

Whose fault? Young says “we.” I preempted by saying “the gallery.” The gallery withdrew its support. Which raises the question: What support was given? That on Wednesday night I could regard it as having been withdrawn?

Little. A promise. Here the misunderstanding: CAR asseverates no promise was made, except to book the show and assist in realising it at the gallery, but only insofar as such assistance did not exceed that normally, by precedent and on principle, given to any exhibiting artist.

I misunderstood a general offer of support – which is what I heard – for financial support, when it meant support in keeping with normal gallery practice.

From July, August, 2007, in my earliest discussions with Young about the project, the project of bringing theatre into the gallery, about forcing a strange miscegenation between art worlds, money was present. Young asked how much a show at the gallery would cost. I’d no inkling at this stage that the gallery considered costs related to the production of works for exhibition to be the sole responsibility and liability of the artist.

Young told me early on that the costs of mounting an exhibition at CAR came in at approximately $10 000. However, I knew neither that the exhibiting artist bore these costs, nor that I would in this case be the ‘artist’ and required to bear them. As to the latter, I was not informed, not misinformed.

When Young asked how much a theatre work cost, I answered I’d made shows for between $5 000 and $120 000 but that I wouldn’t consider staging a production without paying the actors and, hence, also, without a guarantee the actors would be paid. The passive mood – “be paid” – is deceptive: Who pays the actors? The production.

This was my assumption: that what Young and I were discussing was a joint production, CAR in partnership with my company, with paid and unpaid members of the loose meshwork of friends and family and called-in thesbs who would actually make the show.

Who is the ‘artist’? And who ‘exhibiting’? Even the gallery knew: without actors no show. But confusion became inevitable once I discovered CAR could not think outside its square white box.

Two quite extensive periods intervened between early discussions with Young and finally coming together to develop a production plan. In the last week of September 2007, the RJF project dissolved for a Grosse Pause: two of the five performers got paid gigs, taking them out of our unpaid, part-time laboratory style project. Brazil entered its final throes, the countdown to September 30, its closing date and some serious realignment was in order.

During this first period, Young and I were in touch. I expressed misgivings about taking RJF to CAR, some related to the size of its cast – and therefore to the cost of staging it – and some were artistically motivated. Young expressed his desire that the project of bringing a work to the gallery continue. I proposed to write something new.

I wrote study for a passion over the next three months, eventually posting it here, to raise interest in the project at CAR, on January 17, 2008. In this second period, Young and I had little contact. But I’d like to submit my reasons for writing it: an introduction for a visual arts audience to theatre in a gallery, it needed to be less a performance-art piece than to draw and extrapolate from traditional theatrical sources, to experiment in a way an audience might find justification for, considering its setting – in a gallery; RJF was five actors and only those actors (I knew Paul Barrett was engaged to appear at the Court Theatre in early 2008); it was also an upright piano and a ceiling of a certain stud height; it would have been too expensive to put into CAR even if we didn’t raise the roof; artistically, on the continuum between performance-art and theatre, I thought it too close to what a gallery audience might expect a theatre company to do in a gallery, that is, to dispense with theatre and pretend to do art; study was and is in all senses a much more modest work.

Forgive this peroration but it’s important to note to what degree study was written for City Art Rooms, with the interests of the gallery in mind, with the interest in a joint production, between the gallery and the performing company, crossing disciplines and institutions, at its heart. With a modesty, then, abjuring all compromise, to produce a blueprint for achievable excellence.

CAR did not commission the writing of study, regardless of Young’s claim in an electronic news release to the gallery’s mailing list that the work was “commissioned” for City Art Rooms. I think Young had in mind with this release the production not the script. (Another reading of the word, “commission” is that portion collected as a share from the sale of work exhibited at a gallery.) However, to me, ‘commission’ suggests what is basic to the misunderstanding: fees, honoraria, payments, wages, pengies, cash, readies, not to mention financial support, capital, underwriting.

On the first of February, 2008, I thought it a good idea to state the amount of money needed to stage study and sent Young a micro-budget – actors’ wages, directors’ fees, costume and set costs – along with the wish-list of material resources he’d requested. Here’s the micro-budget:

_fees and wages (calculated for in-hand rates)_

weekly wages for 2 actors with withholding tax calculated at 19.5%

for rehearsal + performance = 5 weeks * $600 * 2 actors = $6 000 (+ $1170 tax = $7 170)

for rehearsal only = 3 weeks * $600 * 2 actors = $3 600 (+ $702 tax = $4 302)


fees for technical director and writer director

inclusive = $2 000 * 2 = $4 000 (+ $780 tax = $4 780)


_set & costume (gst excluded)_

costume design and fabrication = $ 1 000

set materials and set installation = $ 1 000


TOTAL 1 (with actors paid for full 5 week period) = _$13 950

_TOTAL 2 (actors paid for rehearsal period only) = _$11 082_

In retrospect, I can see that Young asked for a wish-list of material resources knowing that CAR might pay for materials but would never agree to paying ‘artists.’ The budget, it could be argued, was for me and not the gallery.

Hang on a moment. When were the dates set for study @ CAR? Late 2007, Young pushed the study‘s dates forward into 2008, progamming it for March 18-29. This was the reason I knew Paul Barrett would be unavailable.

What’s the use of knowing these costs, wages and fees, on the first of the month when your production is scheduled for the 18th of the following month? Why had sponsorship or funding not been sought earlier?

We met at the gallery, the parties among whom the misunderstanding has led to the indefinite shelving of study on the 16th of February and on the 20th of February. Young produced action plans. Funding through third party sponsorship was discussed. But the bottom line was never met: wages for actors.

Rehearsals commenced on the 25th of February. I’d been auditioning for the role of Dr. K., had cast Stephen Butterworth three days earlier. The terms of his and Jeff Gane’s engagement were simple, reduced from that in the micro-budget to a paid full-time three week rehearsal period, at $500 in the hand per week, and a profit share out of the performance season.

The morning of the 25th, before our read-through, I told the actors there was no money. Always inspiring words: No money. Up to them whether we carried on and, in carrying on, had faith that the gallery would undertake to provide for the bottom line: wages for actors.

CAR didn’t panic. I did. Friday night, I believe it was, the 22nd February, Young had called to clarify my liability, mentioning a contract between Simon Taylor and CAR, which duly arrived, on the day I was to start rehearsing, in the form of a legal document.

If signed, it bound the parties to a 60%/40% split of projected income from ticket sales. Although I was to receive the lion’s share, I was also to assume full costs for mounting the production and pay wages and fees. It was an amazing experience – sort of out-of-body – to look at the regularly recurring name of the artist, Simon Taylor, and marvel at his potential liability, his leonine appetite for risk.

Dominic, my brother and technical director of the show, produced the budget for study @ CAR. The three of us, Young, myself and Dom met on Tuesday 26th February to address any questions raised by the contract. I said, There’s only one problem with this contract, Young: I’m not going to sign it. Dom said, It’s not my job, but since nobody’s so far bothered to do so, I though I’d write up a budget.

It should be clear by now where the gallery actually stood in regard to the budget: our problem, not theirs. We, Dom and I, proposed in response to the quite unworkable model contained in CAR’s contract that Kylie Sanderson, the gallery’s owner, be presented with an alternative: CAR pay wages and fees, assuming complete liability, and receive 100% of ticket revenue. In other words, we proposed that Kylie underwrite the show.

Young asked if we were prepared to negotiate our fees. I said to take what I’d already paid out on rehearsal rooms and what I was about to on illustration for the posters and fliers – already, by this time, designed – from my fees: a reduction of $550.

“Since we are unable to negotiate terms that work for everyone involved, we have to cut our losses and shelve the project for now,” writes Young in his e-mail to interested parties.

Young had a problem. He would get back to us, he said, once he’d spoken to Kylie. But he thought it unlikely she’d accept our proposition. Why? Different worlds. Parallel universes might even explain it. Still I find it unacceptable.

By the end of Tuesday, no word. By the end of Wednesday, none. And at the end of Wednesday, I took the decision to cancel rehearsals.

We had been due to reconvene first thing Thursday morning. But no wages no actors no show. Cancelling rehearsals, of course, set all the dominoes tumbling.

Remember, we were due to open March 18, in a short but highly challenging and technical show. Beyond Thursday February 28, not only would the rehearsal period have been too brief for the show, too much would still have been at risk. Better to pull the production now than endanger it during an intense rehearsal period, or even after it, facing an equally punishing season. Better not to jump. Since we’d no parachute.

This was a pragmatic issue to do with time and timing, or tardiness, more than money. And another cause for misunderstanding.

Did I consult Young before I cancelled rehearsals? No. I’d tried to contact him without success. Then, why should I have sought his agreement? He expected me to wear complete liability.

Instead, I took complete responsibility. For and to the ten or twelve friends and family and called-in thesbs who would actually have made study for a passion. The company that CAR preferred to call Simon Taylor. You see, there’s a group subject here, a groupuscle that CAR refused to acknowledge that I refused not to, even to not accepting liability on the company’s behalf.

Wednesday night, I eventually heard from Young. He had two minutes on his cellphone. He’d asked Kylie Sanderson, the gallery’s director, to foot the bill. She’d said no. Young said she’d offered two arguments. Firstly, Kylie didn’t see what incentive we’d have to make the show if she paid our fees and wages. Secondly, whether they are amateur, professional, or whatever, CAR does not pay artists. This sounded crazy.

Curator and director had removed directors’ fees and BFM advertising from the budget – or cash-flow forecast. But actors’ wages had now been permitted as a legitimate material expense. The unworkable aspect of the 60%/40% split was eliminated, i.e. the impossibility of paying expenses out of a 60% share given a projected 30% level of audience attendance. Since with this large an audience all costs could be borne, apart from directors’ fees. The maximal earning potential of the project was apparently what should be kept in sight, $30 000, of which 60% would come to me. This was substantial incentive to make a good show.

Was the removal of directors’ fees the sticking point? No. In the end it came down to time. It was too late to have the information. It was too late to find that CAR had never allowed for supporting the project in the way I expected them to, too late, then, to discover a misunderstanding. And too late to labour it or justify it by or hang everything off a misunderstanding.

I had a further conversation with Young on the Thursday, before he sent out his e-mail announcing a cancellation I’d already announced the night before. I pointed out that I’d been clear from the start in requiring, as an absolute bottom line, money to pay actors.

Since he was aware at the beginning of February there was none, it was a fair and logical assumption for me to make that the gallery was somehow prepared to underwrite or fund or otherwise bankroll the production. Even if all that meant was CAR or Kylie covering costs until revenue came in from ticket sales and fund-raising. (I would, had there been the time to raise money prior to performance, honestly have accepted such a deal.)

It is therefore unfair and illogical to call a misunderstanding CAR’s withdrawal from the commitment to pay actors’ wages. As to the other misunderstandings:

– CAR would not pay the artist, singular – a theatre company comprises artists, plural;

– 40% commission to the gallery and 60% to even many artists is economically viable for a plurality works; a theatre piece is, unfortunately for this model, singular;

– time is the material we use to make a piece of theatre; it is our capital and therefore to be valued above all, not squandered in administrative disorganisation, and, ideally paid for as a material;

– staging a theatre piece outside a gallery is already an act of good faith rather than of commercial good sense; the experiment of putting a theatre work into a gallery requires an additional imaginative leap or effort of belief.

Let there be no misunderstanding about that which I was simply not given, or only given too late, to understand by City Art Rooms. I see no cause for misunderstanding on the part of the gallery as to what it was being called on to deliver in order to realise the project: money and time. And respect for the fact that I’d provided them, Young and Kylie, with an achievable bottom line for both.

I view City Art Rooms’ lack of belief and failure of imagination as a withdrawal of the support needed when it was needed for study for a passion.

point to point

Comments Off on please explain, Simon Taylor, the misunderstanding that has led to the cancellation of study for a passion @ City Art Rooms without causing it, without having the peripheral effect of closure, and returned the two worlds, the one vital, the other visual, between which the misunderstanding is said to have arisen, each to itself, and both somehow poorer