Over the past 12 years I have been organising
events in the form of Balls and Mock Olympics (originally as a response to
Sydney’s winning bid to host the 2000 Games) The form of mock Olympics and
themes of the Balls enabled me to explore social constructs, and in the spirit
of the carnivalesque, also provided a framework for audience participation
rather than spectatorship. Such was the 2002 "The
Liberal Lifestyle Olympics" with events like The Detention Centre Dash, The Pacific Solution, The
Anthrax Letter Relay, The Sorry Book Hurdles and Baby Hurling.
With my new event
"The Winter (of our discontent) Games" not
only do I want to continue participation in events reflective of our social,
political and global situation, I want to begin the process of providing a
framework for others to showcase their art practices.
SPECTATORSHIP AND THE CARNIVALESQUE
The Carnval is a time of social inversion and
temporal liberation. In Medieval times, subjugated to strict hierarchical order,
the time of the carnival provided the lower classes an escape valve for
discontent. In pre modern times, the peasants dressed up like the kings, queens,
and pope and staged the theater of the carnivalesque, so that their voice would
be heard by the powerful.
Carnival allows for free and familiar contact between
socially disparate people. As the participants are simultaneously actors and
spectators. Carnival allows for mass action. Carnival seeks to uncover and
undermine any hegemony, employing parody and ridicule to bring down to earth
Carnival is active and spectacle passive. Multinational
corporate spectacle entertains, diverts and seduces us. In a spectacle the
audience submits to social control that masquerade as a celebration. A spectacle
serves the production of power and the need for control by seeking to change our
self concept. This is Entertainment World where we are passive consumers as the
dialogue is one way.
Finally, the Carnival is rude and vulgar. Delighting in the
base functions of the human body as leveling acts and metaphors for the
degrading of the exalted. Carnival laughter is directed at the exalted as
laughter materializes and socially liberates.
Here is a list
of the events I have orchestrated with much help and assistance from a wonderful
group of "grotesque" friends.
Olympics" at Leichhardt Oval on the 20th September 1992 was a
to Sydney’s successful bid for the Olympic Games. The 2040 Olympics was a
ridicule of the over consumptive, over promoted nature of this event where we
were told to behave like a good community. Beginning with a March past the
sporting disciplines chosen for the 2040 Olympics were Grass swimming and
Synchronized Grass Swimming, Ribbon Twirling, Genuflection
Hurdles and Hand Bag Hurling.
"The Brides and
Grooms Ball" was held in Leichhardt Town hall on the evening of 25th
April 1993.The Ball was attended by approximately 200 people. I had many offers
of assistance in the setting up decorations, management- security, catering (my
mother finally got to make me the wedding cake for which she had enrolled in
cake decorating 6 years previously) and cleaning up. In this way the ball took
on a more communal aspect and I enjoyed other people’s creative input such as
the throne designed and made by John Venerosa, blessings by
Monsignor Porcamadonnaand guests sartorial efforts in the trophy categories. Each
attendee received a dance card and pencil and there were 10 feature dances with
medallions as rewards and encouragement. The feature guest Monsignor
Porcamadonna awarded the special category trophies and it was to him, seated in
the throne, we were presented. The theme was chosen as my comment on social
values and in the carnivalesque spirit in which it was conceived and executed
there was much transvestitism, profanity and blasphemous garb and behaviour.
In 1994 the time
had come, by many requests, for another ball. "The Biblical Ball"
was held on 11th
June 1994, at The Balmain Leagues Club for approximately 250 guests. Many offers
of assistance were accepted. Once again Monsignor Porcamadonna officiated in his
penitent party goers were presented or in fact presented themselves. Once again
dance cards were supplied and medallions awarded for spectacular achievement in
the feature dances. This theme was chosen as a carnivalesque poke at religious
values. There was much scope for blasphemy but also a quiet nod of appreciation
in the direction of catholic religious excess and sartorial splendour. For
services to the old and new testament I received Perpetual Indulgence.
Formal Olympics" were held at Roselle Hospital Oval. Enjoying the opportunity the
balls had provided for sartorial indulgence in Gowns the theme chosen for this
event was formal wear and it was at this time that L.A.S.H. was born- "The
Leichhardt Academy of Style and Health". This event
was co produced with Cathy Carey who has been instrumental in all L.A.S.H.
events since. This time the sporting disciplines were; Olive Pit Spitting,
Stiletto Beam Gymnastics, Serviette Folding, H'orderve
and the very energetic Helping a Drunken Friend into a Taxi
Race. By donning the clothes of a leisured and privileged class these
Olympics satirized the ineffectuality of our elite.
The 10th June 1995 was also the year of "The Zoo Ball" at
Balmain Leagues Club attended by approx 250 people. Rev Oral Riches presided
over this secular event .Following the same format as previous balls there were
Dance cards and special category trophies. Much assistance was given by friends
in the many areas involved in hosting this event. This ball however marked the
end of my enthusiasm for arranging these events and it was not until 2002 that
with much inspiration and enthusiasm from the co founder, Cathy Carey that "The Liberal Leichhardt Olympics" (another L.A.S.H production)
were held on
Sunday, 3 March 2002 at Roselle Hospital Soccer Oval.
These 'olympics' were conceived as a way to cope with the frustration and sense
of impotency of life under a Liberal government which at this time was promoting
xenophobia avarice, hypocrisy stupidity and a loud and offensive banging on
about “family values”. The events on the day included Race Riot Race,
Anthrax Letter Relay, The Sorry Book Hurdles, Baby Hurling,
Find the 2040 Terrorist and trade for a 'Yellow" package, People
Smuggling Regatta, the Pacific Solution, Rhythmic Gymnastics-MYOB
and Red Ribbon Twirling, Deft Theft until Nothing's Left Relay and
Detention Centre Dash. There was much fodder for criticism and down-right
It was with a different consciousness then that "The Winter (of our
discontent) Games" were conceived and then held on the 29th August
2004. This day was fortuitously coincided with the day the election was called.
The Liberal Government was fighting to stay elected for a record fourth term
and would end up with a majority in the upper house.
"The Winter (of our discontent) Games" was conceived as communal art activism.
Providing a framework (more flexible than previous events I had produced and co
produced) for others to perform and create. Conceived as a carnivalesque space
that would provide a valve for the release of anger against powers in authority,
an antidote to daily impotence and a vehicle for ridicule and profanity. The
foibles, hypocrisies and fear mongering of the government lent itself readily to
translation into a wide and diverse range of sporting disciplines.