“Welcome. Please ring bell and remove shoes (if you like) for entry into this three day civilisation”. Artists from Melbourne’s Tape Projects and Hobart’s Six_a Inc, two artist run initiatives which both support cross-media works, have taken over the space at Blindside Gallery where they have created their own alternate universe and inhabited it for the past three days.
When Georgina and I arrived at the Lazy Slum, we were fingerprinted and checked in as tourists. Looking around the space it wasn’t clear where to start. These guys had obviously been busy. Every inch of the walls were covered with handwritten signs, video installation and information about the integral parts of their community such as waste management – unglamorous yet necessary. It was also hard to know where to walk with Snuggies and sleeping bags scattered across the floor, some presumably with people inside. I definitely felt like a tourist coming into a place far from my own reality. It was the first time I’d seen a Snuggie outside its’ infomercial.
Luckily, we were offered the services of a guide who explained to us that living within their civilisation was an oracle who could answer all our questions, and we were pointed in the direction of their craft desk in order to create an offering to their oracle.
Our inner artists were released and we got totally into snipping, sticking, sculpting whilst being entertained by atmospheric sounds coming from our guide playing a child’s keyboard and music apps on his iPhone.
With our offerings complete, we excitedly crawled through the dark tunnel and into an equally dark tent to meet the slum oracle.
Being so overwhelmed by the sight of hundreds of offerings, and Georgina somewhat distracted by her offering not making the journey (it got tangled in the mass of string and yarn in the tunnel), we had forgotten about the purpose of all of this. Then, a booming voice suddenly interrupted our talk and laughter, “Yes?” With no questions prepared, I asked the oracle if I’d have a happy life and wasn’t disappointed with the answer (although the oracle couldn’t tell us who was going to win the election that day… but neither could Australia, for that matter).
In putting this work together the artists have considered what their world would be like when given the opportunity to build it from scratch. Blindside describe it as Lord of the Flies meets Better Homes and Gardens. Imagine Noni sitting with us at the craft desk!
For us the experience was totally unexpected, engaging, and as the audience we felt part of the creative process. It was the kind of experimental art that could only come from young and emerging artists in an incredibly collaborative environment.
I’d say you have to get down to Blindside and check this out but unfortunately the members of this three day civilisation have now had to re-enter civilisation. We won’t be forgetting our visit anytime soon.