Review: transumer: deviate from the norm, Adhocracy 2011

by Jane

When was the last time you fcuked things up?  I mean really, did something so left of field, so unlike yourself (so unlike anyone!), so brilliant and wonderful and bizarre that all you can do is feel absolute joy?

For me, it was Sunday.

As you begin transumer: deviate from the norm, you are handed a red bag. In your red bag goes one yellow balloon, one piece of white chalk, and one animal mask.  In your hands goes an “i-torch” – a contraption which sees an iPod touch with large headphones sticking up off a large metal torch.  Onto the torch, you stick a small, plastic animal friend, who you say hello to, and will get back to later.

In a group of ten, you receive your instructions from a pair of mother fcukers.  On the count of three, everyone presses the big red button: Deviate.

Participants listen to instructions, ready to begin.

Listening to our instructions. Photo: Heath Britton

pvi collective’s transumer has groups of people walking the winter streets of Port Adelaide for one hour where they are invited to, well, deviate.  Defy conventions, tell the city what you want from it, laugh in the face of authority, overthrow the institutions. All while making sure to cross at the green light.

In one hour we wrote on chalk on the pavement, we created an urban home for our animal friend, we did nothing at all for one minute in defiance of the working day.  With a yellow ball, we played dodge ball against the monarchy; with yellow balloons, we took part in our own piece of socially acceptable terrorism – blowing stuff up.  In a one-minute, sadistic version of the Beep Test we tried to topple a bank by running in to it.  Again.  And again.  Shoulder blades, mine are currently yelling loud and clear, are not the suggested body part for impact.

Participants write on the footpath with chalk.

Telling the city what we want. Photo: Heath Britton

We walked past a mother fcucker pulling along a van with rope, a mother fcucker doing headstands with their heads down drain holes, a mother fcucker watering the plants around the traffic light pole.  We walked past some very confused people in the local pubs.

But mostly, we spent an hour being outrageously eccentric, enjoying ourselves, enjoying each other, and enjoying Port Adelaide.  A private experience encompassed in the dense soundscape coming through your headphones, it is also a collaboration and an adventure into the unknown with your camaraderie, just as clueless as you, and your helpful, or not, mother fcuckers.

Leaving for the night and walking back to the bus stop, it was shocking just how quiet the Port is at night.  When you’re caught up in the show, you can never be sure if the sounds you are hearing are real or if they’re coming through your headphones. At times uncomfortably loud (but I’m the girl who finds headphones for videos in art galleries are always turned up too loud), the richly layered sound design informs every piece of the production.

Laughing at the Port Adelaide Police Station.

Laughing at the Port Adelaide Police Station. Photo: Heath Britton

A voice gives you instructions at each location, and tells you how long you have to get to each new location.  Although, with no real concept of the Port Adelaide area, I didn’t really have any concept of how far I was away from each new location.  So when the voice over was telling me I had thirty seconds remaining, I tended to keep pace, not knowing if I needed to speed up at all.

Accompanying the voice over, sections of popular songs talk to and act in response to the specific locations. Over music you hear yells and snatches of conversations, some seemingly directed at you, others as if you’re walking through a crowd or are about to come across a couple at the next corner.  I turned my head towards a dog barking more than once, only to find the dog was now barking from the other direction as the stereo headphones moved with my head.

Even within the world of transumer and under the guise of night, it was striking how beautiful the Port is in its dilapidation.  Filled with old buildings suffering years of neglect, it is such an interesting mirror of its own history, and a place that I would now love to go back and explore more of during the light.

Beyond the old beauty in the Port, however, it is the interaction of the cast of mother fcuckers and yourself and how this changes the normal built environment, and then the added layer of an interaction of the environment itself on top of this.

A lone mother fcuker stands in the wind.

A lone mother fcuker stands in the wind. Photo: Heath Britton

One of my favourite moments was as the show ended, turning away from an old building to see a field filled with the mother fcukers in black hoddies, holding yellow balloons, looking across the river.  To my right, the wind swept the balloons away to the right.  To my left, the wind pushed the balloons away to the left.  It was a magical moment entirely dependent on the way the wind was moving between buildings, but at the end of a magical evening it’s hard to imagine it as anything other than planned.


transumer: deviate from the norm was presented by Vitalstatistix as a part of their Adhocracy long weekend.  Over three days the Waterside Workers Hall was home to five in-development works.

I participated in a showcase of Torque Show’s RIOT, an interactive dance theatre piece commissioned by Malthouse Theatre and Tipping Point through the Dara Foundation Climate Change Commission.  Just one-and-a-half days into a two-year development, it was an absolute privilege not only to be invited to comment, but be invited to actively participate in the work so early.  With the intended goal of changing the way the public engage in discourse on climate change, I am actually shocked at the questions the piece has me asking myself about the choices I make in response to my environmental awareness.

I snuck into the back of the Supper Room as artists discussed exactly how do you create a fictional bureau (what do you base it on, how many liberties should you take?), before returning for a showcase of I Met (Port Road) The Other Day by Emma Beech and Tessa Leong’s Australian Bureau of Worthiness.  Asking members of the local community “what makes your day worthy?” the showing ended up being an expansion on an earlier development of the work in Renmark, where we were given brief snapshots of people going about their day in the Riverland.  One of the most interesting things of this showing was listening to audience members in the post showing conversation that had been to two or all three of the presentations, and what they focused on from each piece in the different formats it took.

I sat around tables discussing art, Adhocracy, and everything else while stitching a piece of broken mirror found at the port to pieces of loose book pages to contribute to Ryan Sim’s Stitch Factory, where he took a collection of these little artworks and sewed them together to form patchwork models of the saw-tooth factories that live in the Port.

Due to popularity (there’s), and poor time management (mine), I missed out of participating in the dream recreations of Lara Thom and Liz Dunn’s Last Night Now.  I chickened out of participating in little black box and The Misery Children’s Aurevoir Abattoir, a “series of intimate experiments in fear”, and after going on a detailed tour of the set I was very glad to have made the decision I did.

After the two half-days I spent at Adhocracy participating and art with such a rousing connecting theme of intimacy between performer and audience, I left feeling revived and inspired.  I fcuked things up, I stitched, I rioted, I talked, and I smiled.  A lot.

A new home for out little friends. Photo: Heath Britton.

A new home for out little friends. Photo: Heath Britton.