Title:
Editorial: Exquisite Corpse
Author:
Anador Walsh
Date:
01.04.22

“This sentence has probably been moved several times before you came to read it. And even now it’s published, online or in print, it’s not set in stone. Someone once told me that a good artist will endlessly rework, reimagine and reinvent the same material over the course of their career. The same could be said of writing (I have already reused old writing in this text). Works do not cease to be “in-progress”.1
Audrey Schmidt

Between bed and work, I eat breakfast and scroll through Instagram. I see a meme that says something along the lines of “famine, plague and pestilence have been having a good run lately, it was about time war made a comeback”. I double tap, half-heartedly laugh (because if you don’t, you cry) and keep scrolling, but my thumb gets stuck, hovering above a paralysing post.

It’s the first week of March 2022. The bulk of my Instagram feed is filled with footage of friends, colleagues and acquaintances caught in the thick of the northern New South Wales and Queensland floods. Wedged between these are news articles on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. I am taken off guard by this content in ways that surprise me. My eyes sting, there’s a lump in my throat and my first thought is that I need a cigarette, even though I’ve “quit”. You’d think after the shit-show of the last two plus years I’d be somewhat desensitised, but I’m not. I’m a puddle, pooling at my feet.2

What began with bushfires–families huddled together on the beach beneath a smoke filled, blood-red sky–became the whispering scream of Covid-19 and a flood of rhetoric on these “unprecedented,” “strange” and “uncertain” times, disseminated on TV and social media; the death of George Floyd sparked an international series of Black and Indigenous Lives Matter protests; Canada recorded its hottest days on record, mussels cooked in their shells and a fire erupted in the ocean off the Gulf of Mexico.

Somewhere, amongst all this, Mark Zuckerberg launched the metaverse and Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson journeyed into space. We hoped Covid-19 would bend capitalism back on itself until it broke, but instead Amazon profits skyrocketed and the hits just kept on coming. Omicron set in and the Australian Government “let it rip”. Case numbers surged through the summer, infographics made the rounds and RATS sold out en masse. And all the while, we kept labouring, producing content and monetising our leisure time to produce and disseminate images.3

Alexander Powers, The Plastic Body, 2021/2, performance documentation, Contact High, Gertrude Glasshouse, Melbourne. Photo: Keelan O’Heir. Courtesy of Gertrude and Performance Review.

In Groundwork, Snack Syndicate invite us to consider the status of labour:

“What is all this extra work for? Malcom Harris asks this question while considering the enormous amount of unwaged labour that has reorientated people’s lives, as they move their paid jobs home to join their unpaid jobs or as they are stepped down: ‘In today’s crisis, we’re building tomorrow’s normal’”.4

At present, labour for me is less fraught than usual. In the face of war and large-scale climate collapse, this is my silver lining. At the moment, labour is for me but moments of exertion that sit between an all-consuming love. A love that builds worlds with each shaking breath it utters.5 A love that makes heaven seem near. Heaven is a place that I can see.6 Not heaven in the biblical sense, but in the sense of bringing phenomenal joy and purpose to my days. Purpose that is not defined by the constraints of capitalism or driven by arbitrary concerns of status, money or success. And it is from this perspective, with a little silver lining in hand and a whole lot of love coursing through my body, that Performance Review begins this new year.

Lately I find myself conversing with peers and friends about “post-pandemic” life and the cultural “vibe shift” we’re currently experiencing. We discuss the adaptation of urban areas to deal with climate change, the threat of nuclear war, the future of labour with increasing automation and the growing integration of artificial intelligence into everyday life–mingled with musings on the future of art, music and fashion. It is valid to feel disappointment that the “hot vaxxed girl summer” didn’t really eventuate, to lament the changing nature of desire and to indulge the idea that culture today is deeply shaped by an impending sense of doom (hence my reaching again for the crutch of cigarettes). But ultimately these are futile concerns in comparison to climate change and the mass loss of human life. This poses the bigger question of how do we navigate the shifting cultural landscape, whilst considering what’s unfolding in the world around us?7

For me the answer (and I’m conscious of sounding too much like a yuppie on a wellness bent when I say this) is to move through the world with purpose, consideration and love. Purpose in our thoughts and motives and actions that are defined by our passions. Consideration for ourselves, others and the state of the world around us. But also, a consideration of and openness to different points of view and alternative approaches. Love as an antidote to the precarity of life in our present moment, as an offset to the laboriousness of existence under capitalism and a light amidst the fear and terror of what’s to come. Love as a way of being in and engaging with the world softly, with generosity and care. And love as a means of creating and sustaining generative, authentic community. These are the values that underpin Performance Review and will define how we operate and work in the years to come.

Performance Review started as an idea in 2020, hatched in the middle of my third lockdown magnum of the evening, sat in front of The Sopranos. It began as a means of providing critical and creative thought to gallery based live art through writing and over the course of 2021, through the support of others, expanded into the presentation of performance and the covering of theatre-based dance.

Angela Goh, Body Loss, 2017/2022, performance documentation, The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne. Photo: Keelan O’Heir. Courtesy of Performance Review.

In my 2021 editorial for Performance Review, I wrote:

“Performance is often treated as an appendage; tacked onto an exhibition or relegated to the realm of the public program, an addition to the “real” exhibition happening in the white cube”.8

I then questioned, “what would happen if we were to continue to give performance the space we have given it online during this pandemic, in real life (IRL) going forward”?9

This remains for me a pressing concern and at its crux, the core purpose of Performance Review. In the next two-year period, Performance Review will work to establish itself as an arts organisation and to continually pose this question through action. Through the decision-making of our board and a series of partnerships, both to be announced at later dates, Performance Review will position performance as the main event, not something tacked on to a larger curatorial narrative or exhibition and not a public program.

In January 2022, we presented Contact High at Gertrude Glasshouse. Contact High featured six Naarm based artists and was a celebration of our newly regained ability to be together, performing and spectating. This project concerned itself with the transference that occurs between performers and audiences in a gallery context. In February this year, in partnership with Melbourne Art Fair, we presented the first Naarm (Melbourne) performance of Angela Goh’s Body Loss. Body Loss is an iterative work, originally commissioned by Auto Italia, London and evolves in response to the architecture of the site in which it is presented. Physically engaging with her surroundings, Goh moves through, crawls along and scales the architecture of a space in this work, testing and expanding the limitations of both her body and these structures.

In the post of the 2020 and 2021 lockdowns, I find myself regularly discussing the future of performance presentation. The resounding sentiment shared by many in our industry, is that the situation of performance within the context of public programming is not good enough. Time and time again, I hear a need to assert the critical rigour and importance of performance practice and to challenge our industry’s current way of treating and presenting performance as a sideshow or subsidiary. Moving forward, it is Performance Review’s ultimate intention in 2022 to become a small-scale arts organisation that both covers and presents live art; models best practice, both for performance presentation and what an arts organisation could and should be and champions this mode of artistic practice.

This text is an exquisite corpse. Almost entirely bastardised, it chews up, swallows and regurgitates past work of mine and works of others that I admire for the purpose of speaking to our present moment and outlaying the future ambitions of Performance Review. I’d like to thank Hamish Richardson for gifting me with a love that supersedes my labour; Amelia Dibbs for a 12-year, ongoing dialogue that betters me in every respect; Diego Ramírez for his editing of this editorial and a friendship that brightens my days and the Performance Review board, for believing in my vision and the diversity of perspective they bring to Performance Review.

  1. Audrey Schmidt, “Claire Lambe, Dart Object and Jemi Gale, drowning curse,” MeMO Review, 05.03.2021,

  2. This is an oblique reference to my emotional reaction to experiencing Agatha Gothe-Snape’s Wet Matter for the first time. Anador Walsh, “The Outcome is Certain,” The Saturday Paper, 29.02.2020,

  3. This text paraphrases part of my catalogue essay for Contact High at Gertrude Glasshouse. Anador Walsh, “Making Content from the Wreck,” Gertrude, 20.01.2022,

  4. Snack Syndicate, “Groundwork”, in Homework, ed. Snack Syndicate, (Melbourne: Discipline, 2021), pp. 27-28.

  5. This line is an appropriation of Andrew Brooks’ beautiful dedication to Astrid Lorange in the book Inferno: “for Astrid Lorange, whose sound of love makes worlds”. Andrew Brooks, Inferno (Sydney: Rosa Press, 2021), p.7.

  6. ‘Heaven is a place that I can see’ is a line from a Cities Aviv song, shown to me by my love on our second date. Cities Aviv, Accompanied by a Blazing Solo (Memphis: Cities Aviv: 2020),

  7. This text paraphrases part of my review of Angela Goh’s Sky Blue Mythic. Anador Walsh, “Beyond human,” The Saturday Paper, 19.03.2022,

  8. This statement is drawn from my 2021 editorial for Performance Review. Anador Walsh, “Editorial: Standing, not kneeling,” Performance Review, 09.03.2021,

  9. This statement is also drawn from my 2021 editorial for Performance Review. Walsh, “Editorial: Standing, not kneeling”.

Anador Walsh is an emerging curator and writer and the director of Performance Review. In 2020 Anador took part in the Gertrude Contemporary Emerging Writers Program and was the 2019 recipient of the BLINDSIDE Emerging Curator Mentorship. Recent writing includes: Beyond human for The Saturday Paper, Performing Protest for PICA and Making Content from the Wreck for Contact High at Gertrude Glasshouse. Until 2018, Anador was the Marketing and Development Manager of Gertrude.

Performance Review acknowledges the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional custodians of the land on which we operate. We pay our respects to their Elders; past, present and emerging and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.