Solo exhibition/choreography developed for Slopes Gallery within the performance series curated by Joel Stern and Helen Hughes

timber, plastic sheeting, acrylic panel, parachute cord, leather, steel, duct, tape, microphone, microphone cable, amplifier, industrial fan, flat trolley, microphone stand, stools, concrete block, beer, pre-existing sloped floor within gallery

PART 1: UNTITLED (enactment of performative structures and thought actions selected from accumulative catalogue of studio activities 2001–2014. Concept, choreographies, installation: Helen Grogan. Enacted by: Matthew Day, Helen Grogan, Geoff Robinson, Anna Varendorff. The artist and friends enact a series of actions and performative structures, accompanied by a printed itinerary. These activities have been selected from an informal bank of action-based thought experiments, accumulated within the artist’s working process since the early 2000’s.

PART 2: STRUCTURE(S) FOR THINGS ALREADY HAPPENING (SLOPES, 2014). Concept and installation: Helen Grogan. A short performance by the room and various materials, during which everyone does whatever.

PART 3: THIS SITUATION WITH METHOD FOR THIS SITUATION (SLOPES, 2014). Concept and installation: Helen Grogan (with Geoff Robinson). Enacted by Helen Grogan and Geoff Robinson

Installation views within Slopes Gallery, Melbourne, Australia, 2014. Photo credit: Laura May Grogan. 


“Grogan’s work is in dialogue with a range of artistic forms unveiling connections between disciplines. It is inclusive without being sentimental. A participant can have a deeply satisfying and sensual experience; they can draw out material pleasures and appreciate subtle shifts in perception, mood and environmental conditions. Difference is not only accommodated, it is instrumental to the realisation of the work. I feel that with Grogan’s work we arrive at a performance that can actually frame and intensify life. It reflects the artistic imperative to affirm the bare existence of things. By butting up against the limits of language and matter, avenues are opened up to clear thinking and deeper experience. An intensification of a physical and lingual awareness has political implications. Through the whittling away of social warranties (the absence of Indigenous land rights) and the rise of social technologies, the real has undergone profound shifts. What historically constituted the real feels like it has been fast tracked into the status of cultural ruin.

A sense of ruin is articulated in the final action in Grogan’s work THIS SITUATION WITH METHOD FOR THIS SITUATION (2014), which occurred at Slopes gallery in Fitzroy. In this action, Helen Grogan and Geoff Robinson carefully gathered up all of the materials used in the performance and compacted them into the end of a driveway. They essentially trashed the gallery. This action seemed to speak to the context of Slopes, which is essentially a showroom for a property development, destined to be sold off, demolished and then rebuilt. This is a performance concerned with materiality, time and embodied experience that directly connects with the violence of gentrification. Like the performance, we are both viewers and participants in it.

- Charlie Sofo, (Excerpt from) “Thoughts on Helen Grogan’s THREE PERFORMATIVE STRUCTURES FOR SLOPES”, 2014

1. This is a reference to a tweet by Danny Butt: “Teaching painters taught me that media art was a thin concept, like nationality: every medium has opposing camps seeking external allies.”
2. This sense of art being an intensification of life has been inspired by reading Elizabeth Grosz’s “Chaos, Territory, Art”.
3. “The whittling away of social warranties” is vaguely extrapolated or mis-interpreted from Franco Berardi’s book “The Soul at Work”.