Construction in Process VI
The Bridge, Melbourne

Event: March 21-31 1998
Exhibition April 1-30 1998

photo/text by Brecon Walsh

 

During Construction in Process (CIP) III at Lodz, Poland in 1991, Emmett Williams and other participating artists initiated the idea of a biannual "performance" of their project in different cities and sites around the world. In the first instance, CIP was a response to the strictures of museum contained commodification of art practices and the dissolution of communism. And with this agenda in mind, their events affirm the active participation of international artists with local infrastructure and site specific materials.

The organisation of the 1998 CIP in Melbourne, titled "The Bridge", took Richard Thomas, Katherine Armstrong, Gail Davidson and the legion of others over two years of dedication. And they brought off one of the most open-ended, logistically challenging conceptual events this metropolis has witnessed.

The following photo essay provides a personal survey of the "The Bridge", as I saw it transpire around me.


   



The Fire Sculpture and Steam
Organ Event
inaugurated
The Bridge under the West
Gate Bridge on March 20,
1998. Emblematic
incineration! Transform
the elemental nature.

 




To the Artists of the
Twentieth Century
, by
Israeli artist Avraham Eilat,
was a homage to
Marcel Duchamp's Fountain
and Constantin Brancusi's
Endless Column.
Like George Maciunas's
description of Yoko Ono's
Toilet Piece in the 1971
Fluxus exhibition in New
York, it is concerned
with flushing, fluidity
and transformation; aqua
ductile. A performative
and transitive gesture
par-excellence.

 


In a strange alignment,
my own toilet became
dysfunctional on the first
day of The Bridge, only to
be repaired on the final
day of the event. I related
this to Avraham Eilat at
the post Pile On party at
The Footscray Community
Arts Centre. In response to
my anecdote, he decided to
sit at the table for three
hours to see what else would
occur.


 



Domenico de Clario gets
off The Beat Train en route
to the Pile On opening at
187 Collins Street, a trip
devoted to the memory of the
late Allen Ginsberg.

 


Domenico de Clario's piano
performance during the
interval of the equinox on
board the barque Polly
Woodside. While installing
the seven neon chakra
lights within the hull
of the ship, Domenico
de Clario discovered
that the cylindrical
cement columns used as
ballast were in fact
used to experimentally
test the stress
factors within the
superstructure of the
then intended construction
in process of the West
Gate Bridge (1970).
The West Gate Bridge
collapsed in construction
with thirty five workers
dead. During this
performance on the
grand piano, Domenico
de Clario was blindfolded
by the original bosun's
flag that he discovered
on display in the ship's
bowsprit.





Binghui Huangfu, from
Singapore, covered the
Burke and Wills
sculpture
in aluminium foil. All
foil and no trouble! An
ectopic metallic
impression. Art deco
what the hecko! Hey
Christo!


 



A detail from Lauren
Berkowitz's Garden/
Installation Window

at the Pile On
group show.

 




Whilst viewing the opening of
five floors of fifty or so
artists' installations,
constructions and
performances, Lauren collared
me to view her and Lisa
Andrew's video Rustbelt.
As a looped video, it is
a series that re-iterated the
soon becoming battleground
of the waterfront. This
still courtesy of the artist.


 


Installation view of
The Drawing Room
by
Emily Clarke and Tania
Virgona at Pile On.
My photograph is composed
in sympathy with the
ephemeral sentiment
of the piece, drawing
on the existing light in
the room. The second
photograph is provided
courtesy of the artists.
 


Emilia Storm and Narinda
Cook's installation, Sophia
(aluminium mesh, tule and
coloured lights), is
similarly adequate to
the ephemeral atmosphere
of The Bridge. The detail
view is provided by the
artists.




 


Founding member of
Fluxus International,
The International Artists'
Museum, and the continuing
global art event Construction
in Process
, Emmett Williams
ascends the ladder at the
final dinner of The Bridge,
held at the Royal College
of Surgeons. The ladder was
a metaphor for the concept
of "the bridge" and its
enactment of affined
transformations in flux.


 
   



Emmett Williams embraces
Pawel Hartman from Poland
at The Footscray Community
Arts Centre on the final
day of the event. Pawel says
"we must be together."
He co-ordinated a
photographic exhibition
of the late Allen Ginsberg.
   

Dagmar Uhde, from
Berlin, installed her
Leap of the Heart:
dedicated to the maritime
workers of the world

at East Swanston Dock
on a community assembly
sign at the picket line.
This work was the final
installation constructed
under the rubric of
The Bridge
.

 

Dagmar Uhde's other
contribution was an
ultramarine oval perspex
installation, For the
Seamen of the World
,
in the dome of The
Mission to the Seamen
in docklands.
   
 
       
     




The artists and
Photos: Brecon Walsh.