1666 is a collaborative performance project by William Scarbrough, Kelly John Gough and Douglas Gimberg. First presented at PRETEXT in May 2022, the project consists of three interlinked works that engage with the challenges of subjectivity in relation to finitude and overarching social and political structures.
Weight of the World
Weight of the World is a performance art piece that relies heavily on the collage of video, the juxtaposition of the body in relation to that video and an exploitation of the macabre. It is an examination of how the individual packs and unpacks the effects of world events, both historical and contemporary, in a very personal manner.
We are collectively as damaged by the Holocaust as we are by the current acts of Xenophobia, whether we know it or not, whether we admit it or not. History takes its prisoners and infects, just as the now can kill. We die today with sweat, shit and blood just as our forefathers did in the turmoil of days gone by; represented in movies and TV programs, on YouTube, read in books, or heard in stories by our elders.
A video/audio collage of historical and contemporary footage of juxtaposed transgression is projected on the wall, in front of which is the artist struggling to hold up a heavy steel and canvas circular screen interrupting the projection behind it. It is impossible for him to defy gravity as he drops the structure periodically, resting and then hoisting for the next timeframe he’s capable of. The video continues throughout.
A large circular tattoo has been applied to the back of the artist, mimicking the circle being held. Within this tattoo, a second individual begins cutting into the flesh of the artist with a scalpel. Blood flows in Burden-esque fashion.
This piece is 27 min in length.
This performance piece makes use of dry point etchings depicting small, dead birds that I have collected. The existentialism is grounded in their existence, yet highlights the vulnerability of life. Each etching represents the memories, people and circumstances from my past that I wish to exorcise and process. The burning of each etching is an act of release, a letting go of both the experience and emotional bonds to the experience, distancing myself from it in the process.
Once set alight the symbol and experience is respectfully laid to rest.
The etchings themselves speak to the fact that nothing lasts forever, all things and situations are temporary and fleeting. As painful as that might be, there is beauty in it. Pain can be a gift with the right perspective. Creating contrasting beauty in our lives.
The Revelation Machine
The Revelation Machine is a participatory artwork. The work consists of a number of flags laid out in a given space, each flag weighed down by twelve smallish stones. In the course of the work members of the audience are invited to select a stone, to come up to the podium which stands at one end of the arrangement and (with the artist's guidance) to split that stone in half using the ancient 'wedge and feather' method. Once broken, the stone is returned to the flag where it was found so that gradually all the whole stones are replaced by broken stones. The goal of the project is to involve individuals in a very tactile engagement with the earth and to question the relationship between 'The State' and the earth. The stones, collected around the Cape, all have individual characters and properties and the invitation to select ones preference starts to associate the stone with the individual, so that the breaking of a stone becomes asurrogate for the breaking of a subjects and thereby the exposure of their interiors.