gary deirmendjian selected works

the conditioning 2022



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:::: performance; part of solo exhibition shroud at EDGE galleries [July 9 - Aug 7; link]; Maldon Victoria
:::: developed/directed by gary deirmendjian and responded to in embodiment by Simon Dow [link]
:::: realised live amongst an audience attending the opening of shroud, in the Cellar Gallery
:::: media: 1.2m x 1.2m timber pit; local mud; tin can & stick ladles; incandescent light globe
:::: duration: 20 minutes [approx.]

:::: see the direction below ...


artist statement

to appreciate the notion of encrusted mud, as metaphor for societal beliefs and attitudinal leanings held as cementing truth by the unquestioning individual, and the act of its laying by the mob, as 'the conditioning' …



context and background

the work was enticed by the nature of the historic cellar at EDGE galleries [that had once served as a morgue], and the fact of Simon Dow's [Director, EDGE galleries] highly accomplished career as international dancer, choreographer and teacher.

the work developed slowly over the course of months, following the generous acceptance by Simon to be its subject and medium. the work was performed unrehearsed amongst an unprepared audience at the opening of shroud [solo exhibition detailed above].

the only instruction given to the audience prior to entering the space [other than to switch off their mobiles], was to 'partake' should the urge take them.

there were some 70 attendees.

the generously proportioned slate clad sunken room featured a purpose-built timber framed pit filled with local mud, with a single low voltage incandescent light bulb dangling directly above, which served as the sole light source in the entire space.

the main entry was via steps, down which the audience were slowly ushered. there was also a rear door left ajar that opened to a blackened passageway.

as the audience entered the dark of the cellar, they encountered Simon at it [see the direction]. moving in silence as they backed automatically towards the extremities of the space - ie radially away from the pit, they appeared visibly startled/shocked/disquieted as their eyes adjusted.

the audio scape in the room consisted only of the incidental sounds of the happening itself ...



the direction

to the performer ...


you are bare, wrapped in white muslin.

as they enter, the audience finds you in the pit kneeling with one knee in the mud. you are slowly scooping up mud by hand and applying it to yourself. you apply it to your body, your shoulders. you apply it to your head.

at some stage i approach you. i scoop mud by hand and place it within yours. you accept earnestly and apply to yourself.

i then scoop mud using one of many makeshift ladles and slowly pour it down your back. again, you are accepting.

i gesture to others in the room. a few step forward and do as i did. again, you are accepting. very accepting.

as more mud is applied upon your body, you slowly sink ... a little lower each time, with now a sense of being heavily weighed down.

at some stage when low enough, you begin to hesitate. there is an air of attitudinal change taking seed within you.

your hand grips the pit frame.

you resist further approaches, gently brushing aside loaded ladles that are reaching for you. brushing them to your left and right, no more shall you accept.

you become firmer in the process and begin your rise. slowly, still tangled in soiled muslin, in the pit you finally stand.

hesitant, your foot reaches over the framed edge, to find fresh ground and in your own muddy footprint to rest.

it takes much longer to extract your other foot. you do so, while untangling yourself from the soiled muslin.

now fully outside the pit you continue to struggle until completely unclad. to the ground the muslin falls.

you slowly adjust to a full stance, orientating your gaze towards the rear door and its lightless passageway.

you stare at it for a while and take a slow step.

then with dignity and commitment you make towards it. you open the door fully and into the black you step.

at this point i switch off the light.


the end.