28 January 2018 Comment
Melbourne Art Review: Can you tell me about your upcoming performance work, “Intercourse with the Artist”?
Georgia Banks: For Intercourse with the Artist - a re-eancment of Intercourse with Hannah Wilke - I will make myself available for ‘intercourse’ on the phone for a forty-eight hour period.
During this time the public will have unfettered access to me via the telephone; while setting an similar tone to Wilke’s work in its conflation the public and private, this performance also questions what privacy is in contemporary times. It also raises issues surrounding a woman’s safety in the public realm; what does it mean to give your phone number to a stranger? What does it mean to give your phone number to thousands of them?.
MAR: What are your predictions for the engagement or reactions to this new work?
GB: Although the outcome is difficult to predict, I do anticipate that much like Abramovic’s “Rhythm 0”, this work will give participants a kind of access to and control over a person that can bring out the worst in us as a species. Although the group mentality that was key to Abramovic’s work is not present here, I believe the level of anonymity this work offers will lead to participants feeling less accountable for their actions.
Can you tell me a bit about your journey as an artist?
I had a fairly nomadic childhood - I went to six high schools! - so my secondary education was… complicated. In my final year of school though I was lucky enough to have just the best visual arts teacher. He was one of those above and beyond teachers that opened his class on the weekends. He actually paid for my train ticket to Sydney for my interview at Sydney College of the Arts (where I completed my Undergraduate and Honours). He’s a huge part of why I’m an artist, he introduced me to all the artists an 18 year old feminist-to-be should know about; Tracey Emin, Judy Chicago, Julie Rrap, Sophie Calle, Annie Sprinkle. I mean, it’s because of him I was known as ‘the vagina girl’ for the better part of a year, but it was worth it!
Where has the concept for “Intercourse With The Artist” come from?
The idea for ‘Intercourse with the Artist’ actually came about a couple of years ago, when I was asked to donate a work to a fundraiser. I was racking my brain trying to figure out how to go about donating a performance! I’d recently read Chris Kraus’ ‘I Love Dick’ and absolutely fallen in love with her essay on Hannah Wilke, so her work was on my mind. My donation for the fundraiser was a version of this work, but the person that won it never used it! I was always disappointed the work never eventuated, and curious as to how it would have turned out. Luckily Art House were curious too, and now the work is being turned out on a much much larger scale than I ever anticipated!
What, or who, inspires you?
My interest in reenactment is in its potential to be used as a radically feminist act of transformation and reclamation, with a capacity to shift the meaning of a work, and by extension, to generate new forms of contemporary feminist dialogue. I definitely do get stuck on reenacting certain artists – Hannah Wilke is one artist I’ve done a lot, so are Chris Burden, Mike Parr, and Marina Abramovic. Of course part of it is that I love their work, but there has to be more than just that for me to want to reenact a work. I have to be able to see the potential for opening a contemporary feminist dialogue by inserting myself into the work.
What’s the most difficult thing about being an artist in Melbourne?
There are the things all artists struggle with; money, balancing the art-work you love and the paid-work you need to live, lack of funding, money, money, did I mention money?
Within my own practice I think I struggle with getting my work shown because it’s often seen as being a bit confronting. I really need someone to believe in my work in order to show it. I’ve been asked to do performances, worked on them for months, and then been cancelled on because they decided my work is too risky. I’ve been asked to put work into a gallery, then told it needs to be something on the tamer side – why ask me to exhibit at all?! Which is why I’m so excited to be a part of FOLA; Art House really support experimental live practices, and have been an amazing support to me in the lead up to ‘Intercourse with the Artist’.
Do you have any advice for emerging artists?
Find your people and find your places. There is an amazing community here that you’re a part of now, hit them up! And figure out which spaces are right for you; Testing Grounds, Gertrude Contemporary, and Mailbox are into thinking outside of the box, Nooky at Trocadero Art Space is dedicated to exhibiting live works, Kings Artist Run has Flashnight events which are perfect for performance, and keep an eye on festivals like Next Wave and FOLA.
Also, think outside of Melbourne! There are excellent spaces all over Australia – like Sister in Adelaide, Metro in Brisbane, and Watch this Space in Alice Springs – that show experimental work.
What’s the best thing about Melbourne?
All the black clothes are very slimming. No No, I’m joking … kind of.
I moved to Melbourne four years ago, to undertake a Masters degree at VCA and in that time I have met so many amazing, talented, generous people. I would have to say the best thing about being an artist is Melbourne is getting to be a part of such a wonderful and supportive community.
Do you have a favourite space in Melbourne?
There are so many great places in Melbourne, and I probably don’t know about any of them! I’m such a homebody, and I never know what’s cool.
As far as galleries go Melbourne is spoiled for choice. I think I’ve already mentioned a lot of my favourites; Testing Grounds, Gertrude Contemporary, Mailbox, and the list goes on really.
I wish I had a more interesting response to this question!