Body in Space: An Art Party | Review by Melanie Kloetzel

Body in Space: An Art Party offers viewers an enticing conundrum. Is it a site-specific event, an art party, neither or both? The inability to categorize may challenge attendees, but here’s some advice: let it go and embrace the adventure. For in this event, there is a little something for everyone, with the added bonus of wandering through a beautiful storied old school building at night – isn’t that every kid’s dream (or perhaps nightmare)?

Taste some visual art through installations by Wayne Burns or Felix Tuba, catch a presentation by multiple live art performers, or get a bit psychedelic with Karissa Barry’s minimalist self and her vivid filmic partner. If you’re feeling adventurous, learn a bit of Michael Jackson choreography and gain some sympathy for the dancers who earned a pittance for their glorious zombie efforts (thanks to Linnea Swan and Nicole Charlton-Goodbrand). Wander through a museum of antiquated technology – play an archaic video game, straddle an Apple IIe (yes, that literally happened), remember your fond love of film strips and overhead projectors, and, in general, revel in the strobe effects provided by Niuboi. But be sure to sign up for Barbara England’s audience-demanding installation when you first arrive or you’ll miss out on it, and make yourself as ‘available as possible’ on the first floor in order be seduced into a ‘beary good time’ with the folks from Swallow-A-Bicycle.

Yes, there are some frustrations here. Some of these stem from the nature of the experience – waiting around for invitations to an event, or feeling like somehow you’re missing out on something happening in another room. Some of these spring from technical, spatial or artistic choices that do not serve the work – the sound for Tuba’s installation is too low to really hear any of the voices ‘talking behind your back’, the degree of minimalism in Barry’s installation in truth requires ‘harder party substances’ than were available, and choices around screen size and a diagonal set-up facilitate more wall-hugging than dancing in ‘The Thrills’ installation.

But in other ways the collage of events ends up being delightful, either for a site-specific nerd (like myself) or the more general party attendee. Spontaneous audience participation in England’s installation offers an exciting but disturbing reminder of the gunshot sounds that students at King Edward would have heard in the First World War years when Captain Ferguson enacted cadet training on school grounds. The wonderfully bizarre teaching installations by Swan/Charlton-Goodbrand and Kathryn Blair (who wouldn’t want to understand what it was like to learn as a ‘young algorithm’?) provide fitting and amusing references to the site’s educational history. And Swallow-A-Bicycle’s fine use of the space – although perhaps a bit too obviously referential to start and in need of an ending that invites viewers to go find their own reality – offers participants a provocative conversation that meshes well with the current vibe of the site as a space of artistic experimentation.

So, grab a drink and a wristband and go experience the art party! And, if you waited until tonight to check it out, you’re in luck, because none other than Hello Moth will be on hand to keep the dancing going.

— Melanie Kloetzel

Katherine Holm