The News of the Building of the Wall, one-on-one performance, one hour, 2016.
The News of the Building of the Wall uses Franz Kafka’s short story of the same name as a starting point for an investigation into the intimate and physical ways in which we communicate. This work involves a one-on-one participatory encounter in which the artist assists the participant in the process of memorising the story verbatim, while walking through and engaging with a site.
Within the framework of memorising the story, the artwork itself could take many forms, yet all hinges on language and how one communicates with another by throwing their voice across a divide (divide of physicality, knowledge, language, cultural difference, etc). The work results in a subtle intimacy through the meeting of voices and individual processes of accessing memory, across the political and poetically loaded physical act of speaking. The work seeks to consider not how difference between people can be overcome but how the meeting point of difference is in the intimacy of dialogue and the space in which the voice is projected.
This work considers not only the divisive nature of language but also the contemporary political realities of nation building and enforcement of sovereign territories and boundaries. As the story unfolds, the news of the xenophobic wall reveals an allegorical consideration of the borders being built and enforced for political measures around nation states such as Australia, Europe, and the United States.
Image Credit: all photos by Zan Wimberley, courtesy of the Australia Centre for Contemporary Art.
This project was presented as part of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art's The City Speaks program. The principle partner for the project was the City of Melbourne.