Fiona Macdonald: Remake II: What Happens in Halifax Returns to Halifax; Jan 21 – Feb 12

The Khyber ICA presents Fiona Macdonald’s “The Remake II: What Happens in Halifax Returns to Halifax”. Opening reception on Thursday the 21st, along with >>> DCLXVI, book launch by Andrew McLaren, and mural launch by Nicholas Robins!!!!!

About “The Remake II”:


In 1971 while in Halifax, Vito Acconci produced a performance in which he and Mel Waterman, blindfolded and wearing ear-plugs, attempt to imitate each other’s actions through intuition and concentration. Acconci termed it a “quasi-ESP exercise”. The 62-minute videotape titled Association Area documents this performance. This video mediates the performative parameters of the work, transferring it to the screen, and introducing a third element to the relational dynamics that is the whispering voice of an “off-screen” instructor, audible only to the audience. Acconci described this work in Avalanche in 1972: “Blindfolded, ears plugged: our goal is to sense each other’s movement and bearing, to attempt to assume the same movement and bearing. An off-screen voice, heard only by the audience, gives directions that would help us attain our goal.”

Speaking at an artists talk at NSCAD in 1977, Acconci accounted for this work as having failed to connect psychologically to the audience, to combine “his space” with the “viewer’s space”, rather that it had produced what he called a “magic circle” cut off from the viewer. Inside this circle, the work became about the relation of the two men who are “possibly coming to some kind of unity with each other.”

Association areas are regions of the cerebral cortex that plan actions and organise perception into abstract thought and language. The concentration on the bodily organisation of relation in Association Area clearly relates to those concepts underlying the terminology. Yet, the neurotic equilibrium that is played out in Association Area as both its aim and its method, and the knowingness and technical neutrality of the instructor as the voice positioned outside the action, brings the associations of the psychoanalytic situation into the frame. However, the viewer that for Acconci was complicit with the voice as the “one-who-knows” remains unanalysed.

In 2006, in Banff during the Future[s] of Idea Art residency, this performance was re-produced. Taking the video as a starting point, instructions as to the process and aims of the performance were devised for the performers. In this scenario two fellow artists were chosen as the performers while I took the role of the instructor. Using a soundproof television studio, the performance was recorded using two cameras, two viewpoints and two video standards while from a third viewpoint from inside a soundproof voice-over booth, directions were transmitted to one or other of the performers through walkie-talkies connected to their ear-phones/plugs.

In (Re)Association Area, all the participants are connected to the technological process that presents the performance as a set of viewing relations. The magic circle is broken by the intervention of the voice. The artist as instructor directs the performance albeit in a partial and not necessarily accurate way. The instructional voice is not one of knowledge but of representation that directs the performers as much to their presence in the frame of the video as to their relation to each other. The performers work not only from a concentration on phenomenological experience and from outside direction, but on their memory of having already been the viewer of Acconci’s video. There is no “one who knows” in (Re)Association Area, rather the viewer is a witness to a series of representational acts.

The viewer is also a witness to the representational structure of the video medium itself. (Re)Association Area was recorded using two video standards (PAL & NTSC) and these are presented side by side, one replicating the camera position of the Acconci document and the other deployed as a surveillance of the scene of the performance. To watch the video presented in the installation is to witness these two would-be documents moving further and further out of sync with each other: the differing frame rates of the video standards delivering differing representations of the duration of the performance.

Describing (Re)Association Area as its return to Halifax (the site of its originating scene) brings into focus one of the loops of amplification at work in the project., that is the neurosis of an historical equilibrium that positions conceptual art as an historical moment or an archive of historic resources. (Re)Association Area is both a critique and a continuation of the program of conceptualist practice. It also proposes that the activities and discourses of conceptualism are not closed. The work continues.

Fiona Macdonald, January 2010

Bio: Fiona Macdonald

Fiona Macdonald is an artist and writer currently based in Melbourne, Australia. Her practice embraces a range of performative, mediated and remediated processes and maintains an allegiance to the possibilities of a critical conceptual practice through collaborative acts of discourse.

Her work has been exhibited in Australia and internationally in museum and institutional spaces, artist-run and off-site spaces, and international film festivals. Her recent exhibitions include (Re)Points of View at Optica in 2008, and Index Project (renovated) at Open Space in 2009. Her work was also included in Bureau de change at the Walter Phillips Gallery in 2008.

She completed a PhD in the critical theory of the remake in contemporary practice from Monash University, where she is currently a lecturer in the Faculty of Art & Design in the Contemporary Art Theory and Studio programs.



A. A. McLaren’s latest publish-and-be-damned bookwork, DCLXVI, a second treatise on the Number of the Beast (666) is a variable edition; this 180 page assemblage of geometry, sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, Reductio ad Hitlerum, and art historical interventions follows the artist’s earlier APPROX DCLXVI (2008). Both are hand-assembled, cerlox-bound volumes, including laminated, collaged and variably printed pages. A series of graphic arrangements of 666 units are reconfigured from the earlier book; postage stamps, theatre tickets, butterflies, carbon paper and fabric elements are incorporated. These disparate material and graphic imprints developed a paginated order by intuitive, rational, and even structural necessity in the binding. As in APPROX DCLXVI, the principal literary content is a (new) series of 666 anagrams, based on Revelations 13:18: “Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six Hundred Three Score and Six.” These range broadly in their intent, content and poetic structures.

The Occult in literature has a well-bastardized tradition. Faust’s story exemplified ‘hack’ literature for centuries, in hundreds of cliché-ridden versions; in deconstructing the Number of the Beast I follow a similar bastardized meme, more often associated with Metal bands and Fundamentalist folklore. DCLXVI is a production ‘cut from more than one cloth;’ with a consistency (or lack of) appropriate to its ‘Beastliness.’ A certain balance of parody and subversive or transgressive themes are characteristic of the horror and pulp genres that invoke 666; also appropriate in DCLXVI, as ‘bad art.’ The limitless possibilities in ‘a bad thing, badly done,’ are corollary to the idealism (eg. apophenia) projecting a ‘higher’ or ‘hidden’ significance upon otherwise arbitrary things and situations. It is not a work meant to instill hostility or negativity as the theme might suggest; absurdity is more prevalent.

AA McLaren.


New murals in the washrooms by Nicholas Robins!!!!!!

CIRCA 1995