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CROSSINGS
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CROSSINGS

COMPANION CURATOR > James Oliver

RESPONDENT > Craig Peade

A performance revealing the negotiation of movements in the urban context.

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Crossings is a performance work and a multi-disciplinary, practice as research enquiry. It is formed from emplaced practice of four artists/researchers who are ‘thinking through action’ to reveal four propositions/positions on contemporary (pedestrian) crossings.

The mobile methodology takes the form of the ‘crossing guard’ to reveal the embodied negotiations of flows in the urban context. By becoming emplaced ‘listeners’, the artists activate urban locations of pedestrian engagement in the ‘present’ term of crossing. To assist a public in a crossing is not just to help people negotiate obstacles between the past and the future, but to be with them in the present, to listen to the flow and observe the passage of the shadows of time, to live in a space that is neither departure nor destination, but a deeper space that is only crossing, never crossed. A crossing is not an overcoming of an obstruction, it is an opportunity to listen to the flow of movement that is everywhere, at all times: to coalesce in a constant state of becoming, to listen to the journey in its present passage.

In Hermann Hesse’s Siddharta, the ferryman takes people across the river, people for whom the river is an obstacle, a nuisance, a barrier to forging ahead. Meeting the ferryman, Siddharta notes his serenity and the seemingly timeless character of the river’s present. He asks the ferryman to teach him how to be present like the river. The ferryman answers that he is not a teacher, the river is. He listens. Crossing the river and observing its ever-changing rhythms and moods have taught him this. Siddharta lives with the ferryman, tending the boat and learning to listen.

1 T. Ingold, ‘Culture  On The Ground The World Perceived Through Feet’, Journal of Material Culture, vol 9, 2004, pp. 315–40, cited in J. Urry, Mobilities, 1st Edn, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2007, p.66.
2  M. Pensky  ‘Method and Time: Benjamin’s Dialectical Images’ in D. Ferris ed., The Cambridge Guide to Walter Benjamin 1st edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004, pp.191–4.
3 Urry, op. cit, p.68.
4 C. Baudelaire ‘Lost Halo’ Paris Spleen: Little Poems in Prose Wesleyan University Press, Middletown Connecticut, 2009, p.88, cited in M.Berman ‘The Mire of the Macadam’ All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity, Verso, London, 1983, p.156 & 159.
5  R. Wolin, Walter Benjamin: An Aesthetic of Redemption, 2nd edn, University of California, Berkeley, 1994, p.132.
6  Ibid, p.130.

  • Crossings, 2015. Photography: Shanti Sumartojo.

  • Crossings, 2015. Photography: Zihan Loo.

  • Crossings, 2015. Photography: Shanti Sumartojo.

  • Crossings, 2015. Photography: Zihan Loo.

  • Crossings, Performing Mobilities, 2015. Photography: Zihan Loo.

  • Crossings, 2015. Photography: Zihan Loo.

  • Crossings, 2015. Photography: Shanti Sumartojo.

  • Crossings Iteration 1

  • Crossings Iteration 1

  • Crossings Iteration 2

  • Crossings Iteration 2

Respondent > Craig Peade

Thursday.

Twilight.

St Kilda Road, alive with the freedom and madness of rush hour. Pedestrians, anticipating being home or prematurely celebrating the weekend, actively forget the travails of their recent past – the daily grind of their own presences and presentness.

Each passer-by hurries, harrying hither and thither, as four blue-coated, cream pant-cladded figures armed with white umbrellas and resplendent skivvies eerily cross back and forth through the intersection. Like lost resolute ships in the night, are these damned ghosts from a condemned future (fore)shadowing our present presences and/or our pasts?

A child’s gait slows, entranced, asking curious and wondrous questions of their guardians about Crossings’ silent phantasmatic spectres rendering the familiar strange. Crossings’ performative logic of the pedestrian – the ‘civilising process’1 of merely walking from here to there – courts a limbo-esque utopian place/no-place and a timelessness somehow beyond the here-and-now, neither future nor past.

Within Crossings’ liminal threshold, (mis)recognition of knowledge and ignorance, an alterity exteriorising intimacy and alienation, the accumulative estrangement of repetition and its affective effects impact upon the enduring immediacy of life’s everyday reality. With all the time in the world to repeat each of their crossings – time stands still, going nowhere – Crossings becomes a dialectical image of messianic walking2 and entropy.

From Crossings’ simple quotidian observation of a prosaic or commonplace ritual secreted or hidden in plain sight, the energy flow of the street’s vibrations ripples transfigured and/or transformed. These uncanny presences delightfully bemuse, perplex and bewilder, as a revelation of the emplacement we are subject to when negotiating the social fabric of urbanity, and those ebbs and flows imposed from within and without – including their transgressions.

Like stepping machines3,we pedestrians take for granted Baudelaire’s insight that when crossing amidst the chaos of (post)modern urbanity, t/here is ‘death galloping at me from every side’4. These – our crossings – consume and unconsciously transcend, sublate or negate death’s shadow. For might not crossing intersections court defiance? That is, the defying of death; a gateway to a temporal immortality?

The everyday or quotidian performance of Crossings, as a mobilisation of our common ‘death-defying’ corporeality, hazards the street as a parade ground, whose procession expresses concrete lived experience, and an awakening from urbanity’s abstracted dream reality, unto nightmarish ‘profane illuminations’ that we are indeed hauntological – dead ghosts5. For within Crossings’ formal utilitarian uniformity, these figures comfort and intimidate as though memento mori.  Irrespective of urban guardian angels or grim reapers, Crossings’ seductive solace manifested itself within a besuited man, whose temerity inspired mirroring one of the figures’ prone bodies upon a traffic island.  Another passer-by enquired, concerned, until a ‘selfie’ – the post-modern eternal equivalent to Benjamin’s ‘ruffle on a dress’6 – allayed fears.  It was this entrancing enactment of emplacement and the strange uncanny familiarity of a bin-cast umbrella that Crossings’, as a research enquiry, proposes that those deaf and dead amongst us might listen still – at least figuratively speaking.

1 T. Ingold, ‘Culture  On The Ground The World Perceived Through Feet’, Journal of Material Culture, vol 9, 2004, pp. 315–40, cited in J. Urry, Mobilities, 1st Edn, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2007, p.66.
2  M. Pensky  ‘Method and Time: Benjamin’s Dialectical Images’ in D. Ferris ed., The Cambridge Guide to Walter Benjamin 1st edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2004, pp.191–4.
3 Urry, op. cit, p.68.
4 C. Baudelaire ‘Lost Halo’ Paris Spleen: Little Poems in Prose Wesleyan University Press, Middletown Connecticut, 2009, p.88, cited in M.Berman ‘The Mire of the Macadam’ All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity, Verso, London, 1983, p.156 & 159.
5  R. Wolin, Walter Benjamin: An Aesthetic of Redemption, 2nd edn, University of California, Berkeley, 1994, p.132.
6  Ibid, p.130.


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