Tao Wells

a performance by Me
Studio 18, Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces Melbourne, 26 July 2007
The eighth in series of performance projects in Tao Wells’ practice, this latest version is based on a recreation of a conversation between the two performers about the performance. Wells’ performances obey rules set out previously and agreed on by the performers-to-be, things like ‘write only what you say and everything you say’ and ‘Remember that you are creating now what will exist later. This causes fear and excitement.’ The resulting text becomes the script for the performance, which is also put onto overhead sheets and displayed by a projectionist, who becomes another character or director by having the power, according to the rules, to decide when and where to stop the performance. The twist to this version is that the two performers are on intimate terms, so in re-enacting their conversation about the performance, the audience also gets a re-enactment of a little snippet of their private life.

It’s hard to know how to approach this work, whether it is more interesting to ‘observe’ – describe how the performers make us tease out an artificial line between the ironic performance/reality of sexual tension between them, which in any case turns predictably stale as it starts to drag on, as they repeat the same lines in slightly different but unexciting ways; or ‘critique’ – ask why Wells talks up the method of using a system that the performers have no choice but to work with, when they don’t bother following the rules very closely, or why he makes a thing out of it being impersonal if he is at the centre? The other approach is the ‘review’, which this hopefully serves as – visiting NZ artist, in collaboration with local, makes sometimes intriguing but mostly forgettable performance art, despite his other work looking and sounding much more interesting.
Michael Ascroft
photo: Niki Wynnychuk