Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Monday, November 9, 2020

REVIEW: Topography of Breath 2.0

November 09, 2020 0
REVIEW: Topography of Breath 2.0

From The Synopsis: 

Topography of Breath 2.0 is a virtual encounter with skin, flesh and breath, which takes from Toh’s ongoing exploration of the body in relation to productivity and exhaustion.

live stream performance, Performance Art, Wednesday 28th of October, 8pm, 2020 

Approximately 45 minutes

CO-PRODUCTION: ARTFACTORY SUPPORTED BY: National Arts Council, Singapore & OH! Open House 


Topography of Breath by Pat Toh takes what would be short fun scenes in a science fiction-like film and draws them out into durational experiential nightmares of physical endurance. A figure suspended, twisting and turning in black space, gasps for air and vocalises strain and effort into the void. Repetitive exercise type movements create rhythm with a steady and hard breath. The body is dissected by shifting video panels.


Toh's stamina and physical application is impressive, rousing the same type of appreciation usually reserved for athletes. Her anxious rants reveal an internalised cultural dialogue of striving, competing and self-reliance. She is alone, isolated but also crowded by the expectations of family, culture and work. I wanted to reach out and offer some peace to her hurried mind.


As our world edges into catastrophic environmental and social meltdown, and science fiction becomes reality, it’s time to confront what that means as an experience and take the time to feel and acknowledge the physical strain. Toh has put her body on the line and takes us on that journey. The detachment of the human species from the planet, from the ecosystem and from others will be, and is, a great physical trauma.

A body being subjected to technological and social control submits to being scanned; a relentless sequence of inescapable assessment and evaluation ensues. The internalized voices now seem to subside with a dystopian body colonized by the state. The body is duplicated and multiplied, making an army of replicants. Toh loses her individuality. She is a part of a larger machine. 

A pixelized impression of city landscapes, public spaces and people in transit is presented, with Toh's body placed above. She kisses and sucks at her body, yearning for intimacy and connection. Her shiny sweat and warm flesh contrast against the sanitized pixilations. A calm and detached voice implies a male gaze, or the powers that be, watching on; interested, but unperturbed. 

Women’s spoken reflections on an individual’s utility in consumer society overlay a lingering gaze up Toh’s body. Once arriving at her face, Toh's expression appears resigned, still, perhaps a little peaceful. The work, her literal hard physical labour and psychological torment, and the piece itself has come to an end. The final feeling is one of exhaustion and sadness.


The sadness is reminiscent of seeing a beautiful, powerful animal in a cage at the zoo resigned to its fate. 

What is the purpose of this work? It reminds me that although systems of power may seem like intellectual concerns, the final place of contention, in all power dynamics, resides in the body. The body is ultimately where the individual must eventually contend with the broader implications of social, corporate, and labour policies.  What are the expectations, controls and limits placed on the body and what capacity do we have within to question, observe and combat those forces?

What Toh manages to achieve so beautifully is to elicit a palpable, physical empathy. As I watch and experience her journey with her, Toh shares what’s at stake when submitting to the hierarchy above and around. She lives the experience so that an audience may viscerally know and feel that same tender, human, alive part of our selves, wriggling within, questioning and fighting back. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Thursday, October 1, 2020

you and i are stood

October 01, 2020 0
you and i are stood

Ella Dumaresq, Shari Cohen, Mischa Baka, Emma Stuart

Ella Dumaresq and Shari Cohen

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Hair Tickle

September 30, 2020 0
Hair Tickle
Rebekah & Barbara Stuart

Film: Hair Tickle 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Rebekha Otomys Exhibition

September 06, 2020 0
Rebekha Otomys Exhibition

One of the questions from Rebekha's new online exhibition at Otomys

You are a performing artist as well as a digital print maker, I’d love to know how your art practices inform each other?

My dance informs my art; it gives energy, focus and balance to a practice that requires much stillness, patience and trust. Alternatively, my art brings meaning to my dance. I am currently composing a new dance for my Dance Choir company, which will comprise eleven dancers on stage relating to the natural worlds presented in my digital print works. My art and dance are polyphonic narratives where the many sounds, voices, emotional states, forms and layers interact with equal importance. On stage, the expression sublimates in a fleeting moment and in my art this is sustained within the print.

Recently my partner, Mischa Baka, and I produced Perpetual, a short dance film for Nature’s Denouement. (As I was dancing for the shoot, I was able to remove my mask). Perpetual is a summary of how humans often find creative ways to meet life by redirecting energies from life’s joys and challenges, into inspirational form. I love how the rhythms of flowing, staccato, chaos lyrical and stillness from my Five Rhythms dance practice, also play out in nature. The rhythms within nature and in the body seem to be varied sized art forms showing all inner tenuous, fractured or flowing worlds. As an artist creating my own worlds, I think of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein from time to time, and how what we create becomes its own power, will and voice. Once I create my art and place it out into the world it is beyond my control and there is something about this that is frightening and liberating but also carries a sense of responsibility for me.