Livid Festival

1994

In its seven year history, Brisbane's Livid Festival has shown an increasing commitment to the integration of performance, installation and live music, providing a much needed space for the affirmation of excess, participation and fun. The Livid Festival also aims to provide intellectual

challenge and opportunities for fantasy and transformation. In this sense the performers were crucial to its success Craig Walsh's and Jeremy Hynes's installation for the Festival, titled Space Madness, involved long inflated tubes of clear plastic suspended from various points on and above the Livid site.

Strong gusts of wind blew the tubes, resulting in a maze of vibrating noisy lines. This network of plastic connected the site's extremities, linking the crowd of some 13,000 people from overhead, and celebrating the confluence of their energies. Strong winds throughout the day led to the eventual disintegration of this piece; the parts which remained formed shorter trajectories, more erratic and disparate than before, moving as the wind blew, changing constantly. In these ways, the work was perhaps symbolic of the ephemeral and entopic nature of the event.

Elise Goodrich's installation Ice Heart also demonstrated this principle. lt consisted of a metal frame holding a large block of ice in the shape of a heart, which slowly melted during the day. Responses to the object became increasingly vigorous; at various times it was a water source, a climbing frame and a focus of intoxicated aggression-the plastic sheet containing the ice was finally shredded and its contents pillaged and strewn about.

The Omniscient group's performance was wild and wet, with several gaudy characters arriving in a water truck and proceeding to spray the crowds with a huge hose and to splash about in a kiddy pool. This provided great opportunities for crowd interaction; people enjoyed being drenched by the water jet, joining in with the kiddy pool action and sliding around the mud puddles. lt was reckless fun at its best (especially on such a hot, dry day) and to add to the interest value, was juxtaposed with skywriting overhead, which repeated the message "um ... f ... sorry?"

Real Bullets gave a performance of characteristic style with Float. They taunted the audience through a megaphone and practised ritualized self mutilation. This involved two performers being connected by elastic which was threaded between fish hooks pierced through their skin, all of which was stretched to the limits of its tension. Their movements were violent and severe, yet in this performance the group portrayed a certain disregard, bordering on contempt for the audience. The work provided images of intensity, anger and aggression alongside mundane routine actions. lt forced us to question the power relations between performance and spectators, while drawing attention to the dis/connection of body and self, and the performative nature of identity. The response to this piece was mixed, ranging from amusement to shock to a violent attack directed at the woman with the megaphone.

The Snuff Puppets also threw into question the norms, conventions, taboos, stigmas, signs and symbols that form our systems of knowledge and our understanding of society. This performance was confronting, sexually explicit and extremely funny. The Snuff Puppets show how, within the course of a celebratory activity, to address social problems and important political concerns with clowning, slapstick and crude humor.
barry grogan