Bust or Boom

2019 Bust or Boom, Melbourne Fringe Festival. Performance piece filmed at Lake Tyrell, Central Victoria, projected during the festival at 33 Flinders lane, Melb CBD.

Bust or Boom Live took place as a 12-hour performance piece filmed on location at Lake Tyrell in Central Victoria. The work, conceived and developed by Helen Mathwin, focused on a lone man who rode for 12 hours across a harsh, striking, salt -lake beach, ending on top of a salt mountain. The landscape is one of extremes- an expansive white foreground and powdery blue-sky contrast sharply with the black horse that picks it way across the salt, scrub and sand. There is sense of desolation, of thirst and desperation that is perpetuated by the pressing wind and sun.

And yet there is more to this scene than simply man faces elements. You cannot help but be aware that the salt over which he travels is a resource, a valuable mineral of economic worth. There is confusion here. Beauty and desperation, desolation and industry rub up against one another to prevent a comfortable reading of the piece. The endurance nature of the work compounds this discomfort as the man grows visibly more tired, less upright, the horses gait shorter. Performed to a small audience (required to walk long distances to engage) Bust or Boom explored the uncomfortable relationship between the post-colonial citizen and the landscape that s/he moves through.

Following the live performance of Bust or Boom (Sept 28 2019) Helen created the video work (below) with a small section of footage from the performance. In this split screen and looped video piece the rider mirrors himself and moves endlessly across the scubby surface towards his own mirrored image. The discomfort and fatigue of the live performance is amplified by a sense of wilful narcissism as the rider moves endless towards himself. The symmetry of the mirrored split screen is both aesthetically comfortable and ultimately claustrophobic. There is a system here, an order. This is no place for change.