Title:
Rogue Monologue, Agatha Gothe-Snape
Author:
Lizzie Thomson
Date:
03.08.21

Rogue Monologue, 2021 is a performance lecture created and performed by Agatha Gothe-Snape in collaboration with Andrew Burrell, alongside Alexandra Chalmers Braithwaite. It forms part of Every Act of Reading Performs the Work, 2019-2021, created in collaboration with Andrew Burrell and presented at Carriageworks for The National 2021: New Australian Art. Rogue Monologue was presented at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) on Gadigal Country on 19 June 2021. This text was written in response to the dress rehearsal that took place on 15 June 2021. My writing has been informed by a long friendship with Agatha. Inspired by the porosity of Rogue Monologue, I have sought to write from an intimate position that weaves its way into Agatha’s work.

A GREEN PRESENCE

We are on the Gadigal Land of the Eora Nation. I am late. I slip through the hole and quickly sit at the back of the auditorium. It’s dark. I hope that nobody has noticed me. As the work glides into focus and my ears begin to listen, I am struck by the immensity of this work. Agatha Gothe-Snape is standing on the stage. Her stance is simple and open. She is speaking a poetic text. Behind her, a large lit screen opens into a virtual world of fragile hand-written words, phrases and broken letters that orbit a white space. The words drift. They shift their facings, glide away from us or sometimes towards and even past us. At the same time, Agatha’s spoken text moves through complex, intimate thinking. Presumed boundaries between personal and monumental states liquify as this vast world appears to embrace an infinity of feelings, sensations, times and places. This world pours into me… “For it was like that. The mountain and the fields were not separate from one’s life. One did not go out to things, one was part of them. The mountain, if anything, came to one, came into the house; one ate it like cake”.1

Agatha Gothe-Snape with Andrew Burrell, Rogue Monologue, 2021, performance lecture documentation, part of Every Act of Reading Performs the Work, 2019-2021, The National 2021: New Australian Art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Sydney. Photo: Felicity Jenkins. Courtesy of the artists.

In her hands, Agatha is holding 26 green cards. They are cue cards for her spoken text. Around her bodied self, she is wearing a green suit. It is the same green as the cue cards. It is a striking shade of green that appears repeatedly in her recent works. This green seems to enjoy taking on utilitarian object-sculpture hybrids that are beautiful and comical in their strange combination of usefulness and appealing extra-terrestrial designs. Parallel to Rogue Monologue, this green is living around the solid form of a 500-kilogram folded steel trolley-sculpture that vertically supports an LED screen.2 The screen beckons us with its light. It is another portal through which we can enter the same virtual world of fragmented, drifting words that we experience in Rogue Monologue. In early 2020, this same green enveloped two large forms poised at the threshold between chair and sculpture. Again with reference to language and writing, these “half-chair half-sculpture” forms were like big, semi-anthropomorphised sheets of A4 paper.3 They still exist. They may continue existing for hundreds of years.

I love this green. It is the kind of green that you can sit on and trust. It is a green that sings out a consistently bold presence. It’s an I am here for you kind of green. It cannot conceal itself. In fact, it is so extremely green that even if it was hiding amidst a field of flourishing, moist green grass, you would still be able to spot it. It might only be a couple of shades away from Grass Green, but this green could never quite pass as a Botanic Green. It is a Computer Green. A computer-generated, virtual green. Spotify Green. It is the green of the audio-dharma guided meditation app on my phone that occasionally fills my ears with out-of-time voices contoured by calm, Californian accents reminding me to breathe. A Breathing Green Presence.

It is the green of the Green Screen. It is the kind of green that you cannot sit on and trust. It is the master of the disappearance act. Now you see me, now you see Ancient Rome. In her survey show The Outcome is Certain, 2020 at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Agatha placed a live streaming video in the room with her two green half-chair half-sculpture works. The video was then projected onto the wall for visitors to see. But rather than using chromakey to make a subject appear to be in another place (like Ancient Rome), Agatha inverted the technology of the green screen to erase her two green chair-sculptures. The green subjects were thus obliterated from view… but not from touch. Posing for a selfie beside the artwork, became posing for a selfie beside an absence. A Green Absent Presence.

Agatha Gothe-Snape, Selective Memory, 2019, installation view, Agatha Gothe-Snape: The Outcome Is Certain, Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Melbourne, 2020. Photo: Christian Capurro. Courtesy of the artist.

It is the same green as the eerie voice of the Aurora Borealis that invades the Nordic skies in the dark of winter. This green light is named after Aurora, Goddess of Dawn, who surged through the skies announcing the arrival of the Sun. I am sitting squeezed between two other artists on a bed, our faces pressed against the cold glass window. We are waiting like excited five-year-olds. Just after midnight, we spot the green and now we are moving quickly outside, towards the lighthouse on the edge of the city. It’s darker there… here. We look out across the vast black ocean and up into the sky. The green spirit began her life on the surface of the Sun days ago. Her collective body is an aggregate of millions of electrically charged particles that are purged from the Sun’s bubbling surface. Like an apparition, the particles surge through space for three days until their tiny bodies collide with today; merge with the foreign gaseous particles of the Earth’s atmosphere.4 The collision creates an Electric Green Presence.

We look up at this magnificently eerie curtain of alien-like, super green particles of light. We are tiny happy children. We are gazing upwards into a space so vast, that we know we don’t really know very much at all. The sky is green and our words have lost their meaning. They leave our bodies and begin to drift in space. When the green spirit interacts with the Earth’s outer atmosphere, a bright green froth is produced. This froth can create chaos on Earth by intercepting our Global Positioning System (GPS).5 The channel between the GPS satellites orbiting space and the Earth-bound receivers is lost. Suspended in limbo, the satellites are unable to navigate us forwards or backwards. The gap between you and everything that is not you pours open.6 Meaning passes into feeling.7 Feeling passes into sensation. “Can you feel that? How about this? Can you feel this? How about that”?8 The green that we once tried to sit on has dematerialised into “a foggy green entity”.9 A Disorienting Green Presence.

Agatha Gothe-Snape with Andrew Burrell, Every Act of Reading Performs the Work, 2019-2021, virtual environment accessed via LED screen, eight LED screen panels: 200 x 100 x 15cm, powder coated steel plate, rubber wheels: 178.5 x 100 x 2.5cm, cable and sleeving: 5000cm, custom software, computer hardware, The National 2021: New Australian Art, Carriageworks, Sydney. Photo: Zan Wimberley. Courtesy of the artists.

The green surges on. It continues to give rise and fall to full forms, half forms and formlessness. Its imagination seeps into the gaps between forms, atmospheres and social fields. At Carriageworks, Agatha performs remotely. She is located nearby, somewhere behind and above us. We crouch near the 500-kilogram green steel trolley-sculpture and witness her digitised presence entering the LED screen.10 She appears as a foggy green apparition inside the crisp white world of fragile handwritten words. The green vision is perpetually falling, disappearing and reappearing. She exists at the threshold between form and formlessness; between this reality and that reality; between thought, idea and writing.11Or am I more like water? Am I damp, am I matter? Am I physical? Am I there? Do I roam freely, or do I seep”?12 In Rogue Monologue, Agatha speaks about being in two places at the same time when she surges through the virtual world. “Each time I surge its absurdity is not lost on me. I appear remotely to my physical being, inside a screen, unaware of who or what is witnessing me”.13 Her text is thick with vulnerability. It is a very bodily vulnerability. This work of augmented reality reveals the soft underbelly of our human bodies. The monumental disperses into tiny particles of intimate sensations. The modern sculpture is diffused into a Green Apparitional Presence.

I press my hands around the pile of green cue cards that Agatha has leant me and then I halve the pack. A fresh card is now facing me. I slip it out. I have decided to generate the final part of this text by responding directly to this card. The choice is arbitrary. Or a meeting of energies. A collision. A fatal shore. I am holding card 23 in my hands. “Our eyes locked. When it snorted, I snorted back; when it shifted its shoulders, I shifted my stance; when I tossed my head, it tossed its head in reply… The creature loomed larger, and larger still... And then I felt myself stripped naked by an alien gaze infinitely more lucid and precise than my own”.14

Our exchange is unsettling. It emanates a distinctly Roguish, Green Presence.

Agatha Gothe-Snape with Andrew Burrell, Rogue Monologue, 2021, performance lecture documentation, part of Every Act of Reading Performs the Work, 2019-2021, The National 2021: New Australian Art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Sydney. Photo: Felicity Jenkins. Courtesy of the artists.

  1. Mabel Dodge Luhan, Lorenzo in Taos, (New Mexico: Sunstone Press, 2007), pp. 4-5, Italics mine.

  2. This work is also part of Every Act of Reading Performs the Work, 2019-2021, created by Agatha Gothe-Snape in collaboration with Andrew Burrell and presented at Carriageworks, as part of The National 2021: New Australian Art,

  3. The phrase “half chair half sculpture” is Gothe-Snape’s own wording to describe these two green sculptures. See Agatha Gothe-Snape, MUMA Online: Agatha Gothe-Snape, Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), 08.04.2020, Soundcloud recording,

  4. Bec Crew, “Turns Out, We Have No Idea Why Northern Lights Wreak Havoc On Our Satellite Technology”, Science Alert, 18.03.2017,

  5. Crew, 2017.

  6. This phrase is an inversion of Robert Hughes’ phrase “And then to close the gap between you and everything that is not you, and in this way pass from feeling to meaning”, Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New, 1980, on BBC. Gothe-Snape cites this quote in Rogue Monologue.

  7. See note 6.

  8. Agatha Gothe-Snape, Rogue Monologue, 2021, performance lecture, part of Every Act of Reading Performs the Work, 2019-2021, The National 2021: New Australian Art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Sydney, Italics mine.

  9. Gothe-Snape, Rogue Monologue.

  10. This refers to Agatha Gothe-Snape’s performance Apparitional Surge, 2021, as part of the work Every Act of Reading Performs the Work, 2019-2021, created by Gothe-Snape in collaboration with Andrew Burrell and presented at Carriageworks, Sydney, for The National 2021: New Australian Art, 27.03.2021,

  11. The phrase “between thought, idea and writing” is in reference to Gothe-Snape, Rogue Monologue, 2021, citing Gay McAuley, Honorary Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at the University of Sydney.

  12. Gothe-Snape, Rogue Monologue, Italics mine.

  13. Gothe-Snape, Rogue Monologue.

  14. David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World, (New York: Vintage Books, 2017) pp. 21 and 24, Italics mine.

Lizzie Thomson is a choreographer, performer and researcher living and working on the Gadigal and Wangal lands of the Eora Nation. Her choreographic work is driven by interests in affinities between dance and language, as well as in the political potential in practices of choreographing attention. She is currently undertaking a PhD in dance theory at the University of New South Wales. Her writing on dance has been published in books, journals and exhibition catalogues. Over the past 20 years, Lizzie has collaborated and performed throughout Australia and Europe with many artists including Rosalind Crisp, Mette Edvardsen, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Brian Fuata, Emma Fielden, Erin Woodbrey, Marina Abramovic and Jane McKernan.

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.