Preview:: The 12 Hour Revolution

June 21st 2013

Sydney Guild Presents is one of Sydney’s best kept art secrets, and I guess we just busted that wide open. In the past they have hosted a number of artists in their little Oxford Street studio, including Alexandra Clapham, Mitchel Cumming, Justin Balmain and Natalya Hughes.  

Tonight, Sydney Guild will open its doors for a 12 hour durational performance event, created and performed by Frances Barrett. Yes, you read that correctly. 12 hours.

From 8am to 8pm, Barrett “will enact a finite revolution in the gallery space of Sydney Guild.”

This kind of epic performance – durational performance, if you will – is having a bit of a moment in the local art scene, with the mainstream success of 13 Rooms and the wide reach of ‘The Artist Is Present’ (a documentary about Marina Abromović). However, these practices are not new. In fact they go back quite a while, often in the form of activist gestures.

A recent work by John A. Douglas called ‘Body Fluid II (redux)‘ was a 10 hour performance where Douglas enacted his uncomfortable, lengthy dialysis routine in public, while dancing and wearing a gold lycra suit. Sounds like something you’d take your mum to, right? While the absurdity of seeing a middle-aged man in lycra might be enough to attract a crowd on its own, there’s a lot more to it. Once that initial image has washed over the audience, an intimate peek into Douglas’s personal journey is revealed, and valuable insight into the issue of organ donation in Australia is gained. Similarly, The 12-Hour Revolution explores the relationship between activism and performance in a gallery context.

Frances Barrett is no stranger to durational performance. As one-quarter of Brown Council, she has laughed for a full hour (which can be viewed at the M.C.A if you don’t believe me) and baked 137 cakes in 90 hours for Mass Action. According to Barrett, this 12 hour endurance performance “will position the performative gesture as both a futile act and a momentous feat, exploring radicalism within arts practice.”

If that doesn’t grab you, then the opportunity for some sneaky beverages in the last two hours of performance (6-8pm) might help. Plus you’ll be able to see what a person looks like after crawling non-stop  for 12 hours. In the words of the artist, “it will be an experiment, an action and cheap entertainment.” What is there to lose?


WHAT: The 12 Hour Revolution

WHERE: Sydney Guild, 66 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst

WHEN: Friday, 21 June 2013, 8am-8pm



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