Monday 27 August 2012

Essay: Psychedelia Now

excerpts from
--> Moody, Sebastian “Psychedelia Now” (2012) Art & Australia Vol 49/4 pp616-623

Researching this exhibition I was struck by American cultural critic Dave Hickey’s curious observation that psychedelia is more feminine than masculine, one of the reasons he believes that the original psychedelia was never sanctified as a significant ‘ism’ in the history of western art.
--> Hickey elaborates that other transgressive movements such as surrealism and abstract expressionism are ‘easily fovgiven because they celebrate masculine interiority...
However for the purposes of this essay, rather than taking Hickey’s general claim as a starting point, I have mapped significant parts of this aesthetic through examining the practices of four contemporary Australian women Artists: Noël Skzrypczak, Natalya Hughes, Nicola Morton and Belle Bassin. Each of these artists comes at the legacy of psychedelia from a different angle and by placing them together they start to illustrade the wider contemporary trend.
Nicola Morton’s performances also weave idiosyncratic pop sensibilities in a way that alludes to mystical truths with a kind of faux naivety. During 2011 the Brisbane-based artist travelled to Indonesia where she collaborated with female Amercan artist Simbi Dare on a number of performances including Dreamtime Aksi Revolusi, How I survived a Kuntilanak Attack (Transforming Women on Women Rage) and  The Shamanic Death of Capitalism. These performances present a seemingly endless range of non-western mysticisms, including native North American medicine card-playing and Indonesian ghost storytelling in combination with tarot crad readings, karaoke, Deleuze and Guattari recitals, video mash-ups, cheap disco lights, smoke machines and audience interaction as a kind of self-help workshop in a nightclub. Despite their mania such works function as ritual as each performance has a specific goal and an intended target that Morton and Dare seek to challenge.

--> Nicola Morton & Simbi Dare, How I Survived a Kuntilanak Attack, (24/10/2011) 60min Performance. Photo by Gatot Susilo. Indonesian Contemporary Art Network,Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Creative Commons: Attribution. (L-R) Unknown, Me, Unknknown, Simbi Dare, Antariksa Id (director of ICAN)  

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