too much like hard work (or office poetics)
Reviewed by victoria wynne-jones
“let’s work this through. let’s work it out.”
as workers not dreamers, businessmen and entrepreneurs serving the economy, mark harvey and johannes blomqvist try to be productive with their bodies. sacrificing themselves in order to create a sell-able, compelling and entertaining product for their audience they posit themselves as artists who provide a creative service.
politely choreographing their audience members, harvey and blomqvist directed the systematic erection and removal of tables and chairs as well as the mass creation of confetti via a method of punching holes from paper programmes. jolly and carnivalesque, the entire evening had the feeling of a deranged corporate team-building event and this was heightened by its location within a conference room.
deftly manipulating the materiality of the office as props, harvey and blomqvist work with tables, chairs, plastic cups, swipe cards, hole-punches, piles of paper… the relentless gathering, meeting and dispersal of colleagues was enacted, a quotidian waltz to be iterated within organisations throughout the world ad infinitum. there is the exchange of personal and professional information, sometimes under duress. there is bone-chilling air-conditioning, there is relentless fluorescent lighting. there are also exuberant and surprising moments of poetry such as softly-falling snow wrested from paper confetti and the sound of thousands of white plastic cups tumbling to the floor.
the daily demands and pressures of working as an artist were made explicit and physical. a risky business, a sisyphean labour, working under immense pressure to maintain a viable practice as a performance artist is compared to repeatedly running backwards around a large pillar, trying to crawl across a busy room with a rotund swede lying on your back, being literally buried under a mountain of paper or remaining strong as a co-worker stacks scores of chairs upon your back with packing tape. the only respite is a well-earned coffee break courtesy of blomqvist who explains the etiquette of such rituals in sweden. this ceremony starts off as cheery and then becomes manic.
a lot of exertion was involved. there were sweat-soaked business shirts. harvey and blomqvist work very hard. they deserve a round of applause.
“i am a wee bit stumped”
mark harvey & johannes blomqvist
february 18, 2012
new performance festival
aotea centre, auckland
Photograph by Victoria Wynne-Jones