Title:
The Eye and Rich in World Poor in World, Alicia Frankovich
Author:
Anador Walsh
Date:
29.09.23

The future is now

Life since 2019 has felt like one damn thing after another. It began with families huddled together on the beach beneath a smoke filled, blood-red sky in Mallacoota and bushfires ripping through my hometown Guruk (Port Macquarie), destroying homes and killing koalas. COVID-19 arrived, first as a whisper, then as a scream and we were confined to our homes. As new life began to sprout from blackened trees, the Northern Rivers, Southeast Queensland, basically the whole east coast flooded. In Guruk, the flooding was the worst it’s ever been, washing cows up on Town Beach. Canada recorded its hottest days on record, mussels cooked in their shells and a fire erupted in the ocean off the Gulf of Mexico. Then Omicron hit and case numbers surged through the summer.

Meanwhile Amazon profits skyrocketed, Mark Zuckerberg launched the Metaverse and Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson journeyed into space for 10 minutes. And we kept (and continue) producing content, commodifying our leisure time to disseminate images with limited text captions. But the cherry on top for me came in January this year, when a family member who lives off government welfare casually told me that whilst it’s heartbreaking, he’s “not too worried about climate change, because when this planet dies, we’ll all just relocate to Mars.” This cultural dissonance felt like a gut punch to a psyche already bruised by the effects of climate change and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that “people like you and me are never going to Mars.”1

Alicia Frankovich, The Eye, 2022, performance documentation, Take Hold the Clouds, curated by Tara McDowell and Fleur Watson. Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Raina Peterson and Lilian Steiner and Daniela Accary, Rowena Archer, Stephanie Bradford, Melanie Field-Pimm, Jane Hinwood, Nia Le, Kim Northmore, Gabrielle O’Brien, Elena Osalde, Sahra Stolz and Linda van de Wall. Photo: Tom Ross. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne), Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Open House Melbourne.

Delegated Performance and Affirmative Ethics

The locating of the universal in the personal (as I’ve tried to do above) is something that Aotearoa (New Zealand)-born, Naarm (Melbourne)-based performance and installation artist Alicia Frankovich does exceptionally well. Frankovich’s work is grounded in a posthumanist approach and is heavily influenced by Deleuzian, feminist philosopher Rosi Braidotti’s theory of Affirmative Ethics. On Affirmative Ethics, Braidotti writes, “This operation begins with the composition of ‘we’ – the missing people, who embrace the common cause of resistance by co-constructing affirmative modes of relation and values. This is a collective praxis, not an individual psychological disposition.”2 To compose this ‘we’ and by extension suggest collective action as a counter to the pervasive issues of our time (including climate change and techno-neofeudalism) Frankovich has long employed delegated performance as a strategy in her work.3

Art historian Claire Bishop defines delegated performance as “the act of hiring nonprofessionals or specialists in other fields to undertake the job of being present and performing at a particular time and a particular place on behalf of the artist and following his or her instruction.”4 Bishop articulates three types of delegated performance in her essay Delegated Performance: Outsourcing Authenticity: “actions outsourced to non-professionals who are asked to perform an aspect of their identities”, “professionals from other spheres of expertise” and “situations constructed for film and video.”5 I’d say that Frankovich’s work sits between the first two of these categories, in that it employs both non-professionals and professionals from other fields (dancers). However, whilst the performers’ identities are relevant to the work, it is more their personal experience of life under techno-neofeudalism and climate change that Frankovich is interested in. These experiences are her materials.6 These performers’ verbally sharing their experiences lends Frankovich’s work an authenticity that allows it to communicate to her audience the potential of radical bonds of kinship.

Alicia Frankovich, The Eye, 2022, performance documentation, Take Hold the Clouds, curated by Tara McDowell and Tara McDowell and Fleur Watson. Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Raina Peterson and Lilian Steiner and Daniela Accary, Rowena Archer, Stephanie Bradford, Melanie Field-Pimm, Jane Hinwood, Nia Le, Kim Northmore, Gabrielle O’Brien, Elena Osalde, Sahra Stolz and Linda van de Wall. Photo: Tom Ross. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne), Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Open House Melbourne.

Climate change and techno-neofeudalism

Frankovich’s use of delegated performance to advocate for Affirmative Ethics is particularly evident in two of her more recent works: The Eye (2022), presented at Brunswick Baths as a one-off performance for Take Hold of the Clouds, curated by Tara McDowell (Associate Professor and Director Curatorial Practice, Monash University Art Design & Architecture) and Fleur Watson (Executive Director and Chief Curator, Open House Melbourne) as part of Open House Melbourne and Rich in World, Poor in World (2023) presented on multiple dates by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia as part of Melbourne Now.7 These works and their precursor, AQI2020 (2020) presented at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, are a series and illustrate a relationship between climate change and techno-neofeudalism (addressed later in this piece), which is arguably fuelling our continued downward spiral into planetary extinction and social dystopia.8 Based on Frankovich’s own experiences, AQI2020 was a series of delegated performances staged within a smoke-filled, transparent orange box, that used choreography to replicate “the conditions experienced during the Australian bushfire season of summer 2019-2020, which had an unprecedented effect on people, wildlife and land, emitting dangerous levels of smoke across Australia which were also seen in New Zealand.”9

Alicia Frankovich, The Eye, 2022, performance documentation, Take Hold the Clouds, curated by Tara McDowell and Tara McDowell and Fleur Watson. Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Raina Peterson and Lilian Steiner and Daniela Accary, Rowena Archer, Stephanie Bradford, Melanie Field-Pimm, Jane Hinwood, Nia Le, Kim Northmore, Gabrielle O’Brien, Elena Osalde, Sahra Stolz and Linda van de Wall. Photo: Nick Bebbington. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne), Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Open House Melbourne.

The Eye was staged on a cold winter’s night in the chlorine scented humidity of the Brunswick Baths indoor pool.10 Dancers Lilian Steiner, Rebecca Jensen and Raina Peterson, dressed in what Sally Olds calls the Naarm contemporary dance uniform (Adidas track pants), assumed reptilian poses on the outskirts of the pool, beneath the orange glow of a large orb-shaped flood light inside an exercise studio on the pool’s upper level.11 One by one, the dancers entered and exited the pool, their movements creating waves that lapped over the edges, breaching the pool’s concrete boundary, like a flooding river overflows its banks, wetting the surrounding audience’s feet and belongings. In the water, their movements were mermaid-esque. Their arms pinned to their sides, they dove headfirst into the water; or flicked the water with their hair like social media influencers are prone to.

Alicia Frankovich, The Eye, 2022, performance documentation, Take Hold the Clouds, curated by Tara McDowell and Tara McDowell and Fleur Watson. Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Raina Peterson and Lilian Steiner and Daniela Accary, Rowena Archer, Stephanie Bradford, Melanie Field-Pimm, Jane Hinwood, Nia Le, Kim Northmore, Gabrielle O’Brien, Elena Osalde, Sahra Stolz and Linda van de Wall. Photo: Tom Ross. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne), Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Open House Melbourne.

The dancers then took turns exiting the pool to deliver juxtaposing monologues compiled (by Frankovich) from many peoples’ personal experiences of flood-related climate change and love of water. Grasping a piece of paper with wet hands, Jensen, Steiner and Peterson said things like, “the storm was in me, not around me”, “underwater I think about vulnerability, I think about being inside the womb” and “I swallowed a lot of dirty river water”, creating a collective image of water. When they re-entered the water, they moved together like synchronised swimmers, performing a violent choreography in which they jerked back and forth as if caught in turbulent seas. They then swam to the bottom of the pool, exiting only to re-enter and repeat this process. Eventually, they were joined in the water by a group of audience members.

Alicia Frankovich, The Eye, 2022, performance documentation, Take Hold the Clouds, curated by Tara McDowell and Tara McDowell and Fleur Watson. Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Raina Peterson and Lilian Steiner and Daniela Accary, Rowena Archer, Stephanie Bradford, Melanie Field-Pimm, Jane Hinwood, Nia Le, Kim Northmore, Gabrielle O’Brien, Elena Osalde, Sahra Stolz and Linda van de Wall. Photo: Tom Ross. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne), Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Open House Melbourne.

These audience members were all female presenting and I later learned, members of the Brunswick Baths. Fully clothed, they entered the pool from the sides, waded to the edge and then clambered out as the dancers did. This was repeated, again and again, as some waded through the water - their belongings held overhead - and others freestyled to the edge to help others out. Their wet, dripping clothing and waterlogged shoes displaced so much water that the audience began to shift or move, as water further inundated them and pooled at their feet. During this repeated action, bags, shoes and other items began to litter the pool, the detritus of these women’s fight against submergence. This was soundtracked by a voice over saying things like “I fear collective inaction”, “I think the future is going up into space” and “I sense that people are quite exhausted.”12

Alicia Frankovich, The Eye, 2022, performance documentation, Take Hold the Clouds, curated by Tara McDowell and Tara McDowell and Fleur Watson. Performers: Rebecca Jensen, Raina Peterson and Lilian Steiner and Daniela Accary, Rowena Archer, Stephanie Bradford, Melanie Field-Pimm, Jane Hinwood, Nia Le, Kim Northmore, Gabrielle O’Brien, Elena Osalde, Sahra Stolz and Linda van de Wall. Photo: Nick Bebbington. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne), Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and Open House Melbourne.

In Galaxies of Orange Peel. An Introduction, curator Eva Birkenstock writes “In Frankovich’s post-Fordist theatre, the boundaries between professional and private life, performers and audience, as well as those within a clearly discernible structure of time and space, are blurred.”13 In The Eye, this manifests through the work’s presentation in a real-world context and the muddying of the boundaries between performer and audience and audience and work. In this way, The Eye implicated everyone in the situation, just as we are all implicated in climate change. The Eye provides a clear example of how Frankovich utilises delegated performance to both highlight the reality of climate change and position Braidotti’s Affirmative Ethics as a means of collectivising in the face of this crisis. Braidotti writes “we swim or sink together, but keep looking for the adequate way to actually connect and be together.”14 Frankovich’s The Eye makes me wonder what we’d be capable of were we to acknowledge our reliance upon one another and actively pursue expansive bonds of kinship as a mode of political action? Could we save each other and our world?

Alicia Frankovich, Rich in World, Poor in World, 2023, performance documentation, Melbourne Now, The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia. Performers: LJ Connolly-Hiatt, Mara Galagher, Shelley Lasica, Shian Law, Enzo Nazario, Erin O’Rourke, Lana Šprajcer, Angelita Biscotti,
Jesse Gall,
Erin Hallyburton, Alexis Kanatsios, Daniel R Marks and Rajdeep Puri. Photo: Ruth Höflich. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne) and Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

Rich in World, Poor in World was performed four times in April 2023 as part of the NGV’s Melbourne Now, within the confines of the exhibition’s custom-built “community hall” space. This yellow, wooden amphitheatre was structured around a giant screen and designed to house the exhibition’s public programs. When I attended the first of these performances on 1 April at 2pm, the space was packed and the audience continued to accumulate as gallery attendees wandered by. The work began with a large cohort of performers (some dancers, others not) - lit by blue and amber-orange lights - making animal noises in chorus: the warble of a magpie, the bray of a horse, the trumpet of an elephant, over the top of an ambient score.15 In this scene, their movements mirrored each other in the way that humans do when forming connections.16

Alicia Frankovich, Rich in World, Poor in World, 2023, performance documentation, Melbourne Now, The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia. Performers: LJ Connolly-Hiatt, Mara Galagher, Shelley Lasica, Shian Law, Enzo Nazario, Erin O’Rourke, Lana Šprajcer, Angelita Biscotti,
Jesse Gall,
Erin Hallyburton, Alexis Kanatsios, Daniel R Marks and Rajdeep Puri. Photo: Ruth Höflich. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne) and Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

Slowly, the performers then fell to the ground, before rising again. A few ran on the spot and others pulled their hair upwards with their fingers to defy gravity. Yet others were tethered to the earth by their co-performers via ropes that protruded from their backpacks. I read this oscillation between gravity and weightlessness as indicating they had departed earth for “space, the final frontier.” This impression proved right, when the performers began to spin around one another, meeting or missing each other’s embraces and Frankovich entered the scene, handing them objects – a fork, an ice-cream scoop, large circular pieces of flatbread – which they then interacted with. Some continued spinning, objects in hand, others held the bread between these utensils, while yet others tried and failed to eat them ‘mid-air’. I pictured them as astronauts on a space shuttle, floating in zero gravity, somewhere between here and Mars.17

Alicia Frankovich, Rich in World, Poor in World, 2023, performance documentation, Melbourne Now, The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia. Performers: LJ Connolly-Hiatt, Mara Galagher, Shelley Lasica, Shian Law, Enzo Nazario, Erin O’Rourke, Lana Šprajcer, Angelita Biscotti,
Jesse Gall,
Erin Hallyburton, Alexis Kanatsios, Daniel R Marks and Rajdeep Puri. Photo: Ruth Höflich. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne) and Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

To the sounds of Suni Williams giving a tour of the International Space Station, the performers moved carefully and collectively, helping each other as they cautiously traversed the unfamiliar terrain around them. This made Rich in World, Poor in World’s final scene feel akin to the moment of arrival on a new world (Mars). This initial tenderness and curiosity quickly devolved into something sinister and imbued with the threat of violence. Beneath the flash of a red strobe and soundtracked by Igor Kłaczyński’s heavy, electronic score, the performers clambered over and jerked one another sideways, leapt across invisible chasms and began biting each other; their actions suggesting they’d turned to cannibalism in order to survive. This sense of desperation was palpable and many of their faces contorted in anguish. In the final moments, Frankovich passed a microphone into the situation and the performers took turns delivering dialogue, like: “I was a robot yesterday,” “Mum, I’m older than you now,” “I don’t want to stay like this,” “when we grow up, we’ll have a baby,” “you have to pay money here all the time,” and “is it tomorrow yet?” Augmented via autotune their words sounded both alien and infantile and were deeply unsettling. Is this our future? Most likely, if we do nothing now.

Alicia Frankovich, Rich in World, Poor in World, 2023, performance documentation, Melbourne Now, The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia. Performers: LJ Connolly-Hiatt, Mara Galagher, Shelley Lasica, Shian Law, Enzo Nazario, Erin O’Rourke, Lana Šprajcer, Angelita Biscotti,
Jesse Gall,
Erin Hallyburton, Alexis Kanatsios, Daniel R Marks and Rajdeep Puri. Photo: Keelan O'Hehir. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne) and Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

While we have been fatigued and distracted by work – busy at both at our day jobs and labouring unwaged to produce constant digital content and care for our loved ones – “traditional” capitalism has died and been replaced by something much worse, a new ruling class that McKenzie Wark calls the “vectorial” class, presided over by your Musks, Zuckerbergs and Bezoses who monopolise Big Data.18 In Aesthetics of Coercion: On Neo-Feudalism in Contemporary Art, Andrey Shental gives a moniker to capitalism’s successor: “Amid sharpening inequality, expanding precarity, social demobilization, and rising monopolies, we witness the emergence of a new class of corporate digital overlords and an expansion of their propertyless servants, together known as techno-neofeudalism.”19 This argument is based on Jodi Dean’s review of Wark’s book Capital Is Dead: Is This Something Worse, in which Dean compares digital and social media platforms to medieval watermills, which we serfs work, while our vectorial overlords reap the profits, subjugate us via advanced systems of surveillance built into these ‘mills’ and push us closer to total climate collapse.20

Alicia Frankovich, Rich in World, Poor in World, 2023, performance documentation, Melbourne Now, The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia. Performers: LJ Connolly-Hiatt, Mara Galagher, Shelley Lasica, Shian Law, Enzo Nazario, Erin O’Rourke, Lana Šprajcer, Angelita Biscotti,
Jesse Gall,
Erin Hallyburton, Alexis Kanatsios, Daniel R Marks and Rajdeep Puri. Photo: Keelan O'Hehir. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne) and Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

I read Rich in World, Poor in World as a portrait of techno-neofeudalism and the path it’s pulling us down. Frankovich’s use of choreographic action (jerking, tugging, biting) paints techno-neofeudalism as a type of cannibalism that consumes everything in its path – people, natural resources, planets - with no regard for the consequences. So long as the vectorial class get richer, they don’t care if the planet implodes and us faceless serfs die. After all, it is they who’ll apparently be escaping to Mars. Frankovich communicates this by positioning techno-neofeudalism as the direct opposition of Braidotti’s Affirmative Ethics, which is presented as a collective activism that might save us from this dystopia. Frankovich levels this comparison by employing performers (precarious workers that are not Mars-bound) to enact choreography that is at times generative and collective and others violent and individualistic. On the one hand, this choreography tells the story of the vectorialists’ journey to a new world and their continued social and ecological cannibalism once there. On the other, it produces a cognitive shift within the audience that I’d liken to the overview effect, in that it inspires unexpected feelings of deep connection to others (the performers and fellow audience members) and our planet. This is what makes Frankovich’s practice so powerful. Rather than moralising, it allows us to see beyond ourselves and our exhaustion to think critically of the issues underlying our times and how we might co-create the alternatives we so desperately need.

Alicia Frankovich, Rich in World, Poor in World, 2023, performance documentation, Melbourne Now, The Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria Australia. Performers: LJ Connolly-Hiatt, Mara Galagher, Shelley Lasica, Shian Law, Enzo Nazario, Erin O’Rourke, Lana Šprajcer, Angelita Biscotti,
Jesse Gall,
Erin Hallyburton, Alexis Kanatsios, Daniel R Marks and Rajdeep Puri. Photo: Keelan O'Hehir. Courtesy of 1301SW, Naarm (Melbourne) and Starkwhite Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).

Postscript (some notes on presentation)

This is not Alicia Frankovich’s first rodeo. Frankovich’s performance work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in institutional contexts many times (see footnote 3), but to my knowledge it has never been shown solely within the remit of a public program, before Melbourne Now. The impetus to present performance as a public program feels discernibly Melbourne, although outdated and counterintuitive to recent developments in local curatorial practice. I speak here of Adam Linder’s dance exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Hustle Harder, 2023 and Shelley Lasica’s dual presentations of WHEN I AM NOT THERE in 2022 and 2023 at the Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA) and the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) respectively. This conversation about performance-as-public-program is not a new one and certainly not anything new from me, but in this instance, I feel the need to flog this dead horse nonetheless.21

Bishop writes that presenting performance as a public program conflates it with “art-fair” or “gala” art and on this I agree.22 This method of presentation devalues the criticality of this mode of practice. It spectacularises performance for the purpose of driving gallery visitation, instead of prioritising the needs of the artist and their work. It also somewhat undercuts a performance’s capacity for impact, by positioning it as entertainment, rather than something to critically engage with. I understand all too well that it’s expensive to present delegated performance in a way that properly remunerates artists and performers, as do I understand the same logic applies to presenting a work of performance that spans the duration of an exhibition as long running as Melbourne Now.23 However, I fail to understand the choice to present a work that provides “pointed, layered, and troubling experiences, both for performers and viewers” like Frankovich’s Rich in World, Poor in World, in a small, cramped conversation space, dominated by a giant screen, when just around the corner, the work of another performance artist, Georgia Banks, was allocated an entire gallery.24

This decision raises questions for me like: were these two artists paid the same artist fee? Was Frankovich given an additional budget for her performers? Why this stark difference in curatorial approach? Was the Melbourne Now performance program an afterthought? And is performance inherently compromised when it is presented in galleries that prioritise object-based art? I don’t have answers, however I do think that presenting a performance work that deals with the pertinent issues of our time as powerfully as Frankovich’s does, as a public program, is short-sighted and points to a glaring need for a dedicated performance department (or at least a curator) at the NGV. There should be someone on staff with specialised knowledge, commissioning and overseeing the care for and presentation of this medium of artistic practice, so that it does not continue to be treated as a visitation corralling experience. I’ve floated this idea before, but feel, as the opening of NGV Contemporary fast approaches, that it’s a necessary appointment. If it’s good enough for MoMa (the Museum of Modern Art, New York) and the Tate Modern (London), it should be good enough for “Australia’s new home for Contemporary Art And Design.” Our performance artists deserve better.25

  1. This text is drawn from and amends a piece I wrote for the catalogue essay for Contact High in 2022. It was written during the Omicron wave of Covid-19, after several years of the pandemic and climate disaster in so-called Australia. You can access a PDF of this text via Anador Walsh, “Contact High,” Gertrude Contemporary, published 10 January 2022,

  2. Rosi Braidotti, “Affirmative Ethics nd Generative Life,” Delueze and uattari Studies 13, 4 (2019), p. 5,

  3. I’m thinking here of Frankovich’s previous works The Work (2019) at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Atlas of the Living World (2017), Stedelijk Museum and Twins and Lovers (2017), Kunstverein, documentation of these works can be found here:

  4. Claire Bishop, “Delegated Performance: Outsourcing Authenticity,” OCTOBER 140, Spring (2012), p. 91

  5. Bishop, “Delegated Performance: Outsourcing Authenticity,” p. 92, 95 and 98.

  6. This is a reference to an ongoing conversation between myself and artist Brooke Stamp about the materiality of dance and the psychic waste it leaves behind. This is the subject of Stamp’s forthcoming PhD Performing the Performance Turn: Perspectives on Dance Agency in the Visual Arts with the University of Melbourne, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music.

  7. Rich in World, Poor in World was erformed on Saturday 1, 8, 15 and 22 pril 2023.

  8. The title AQI2020 is a reference to the Air Quality Index, the international system for monitoring atmospheric pollutants.

  9. “Alicia Frankovich | AQI2020,” Auckland Art Gallery, viewed 15 June 2023,

  10. The Eye was performed on Saturday 30 July 2022 at 7pm.

  11. Sally Olds, People who Lunch: essays on work, leisure & loose living (Melbourne: Upswell, 2020), p. 63.

  12. As with the dialogue delivered by Jensen, Steiner and Peterson, this voice over draws from people's experiences (collated by Frankovich) of flood-related climate change and feelings towards/love of water. It aims to create a collective image of water.

  13. Eva Birkenstock, “Galaxies of Orange Peel. An Introduction,” in Alicia Frankovich OUTSIDE BEYOND BEFORE, ed. Eva Birkenstock (London: Koenig Books, 2017), p.7.

  14. Rosi Braidotti, “Entities of All the Living World, Unite!”, in Alicia Frankovich OUTSIDE BEYOND BEFORE, ed. Eva Birkenstock (London: Koenig Books, 2017), p.74.

  15. The performers in Rich in World, Poor in World were: LJ Connolly-Hiatt, Mara Galagher, Shelley Lasica, Shian Law, Enzo Nazario, Erin O’Rourke, Lana Šprajcer, Angelita Biscotti, Jesse Gall, Erin Hallyburton, Alexis Kanatsios, Daniel R Marks and Rajdeep Puri.

  16. “The term mirroring refers to when we unconsciously imitate someone else’s behavior in social interactions”. Beth Birenbaum, MPH, “Mirroring: Definition, Examples, & Psychology,” Berkeley Well Being Institute, viewed 15 September 2023,

  17. Mars is used as a reference multiple times in this piece, as it is where vectorialists like Elon Musk would have the rich go once they have depleted Earth of its resources. Information on Musk’s Mars aspirations can be found here: “SpaceX Human Space Flight Mars”, viewed 10 June 2023,

  18. This is a brief summation of McKenzie Wark’s overarching argument in her book Capital Is Dead Is This Something Worse? (New York: Verso, 2019).

  19. Andrey Shental, “Aesthetics of Coercion: On Neo-Feudalism in Contemporary Art”, Spike Art Magazine, accessed on 1 September 2023,

  20. This paraphrases an argument made by Jodi Dean in her review of Capital Is Dead Is This Something Worse? for the purpose of drawing a comparison between feudal and contemporary labour practices under technocapitalism. Jodi Dean, “Neofeudalism: The End of Capitalism?”, Los Angeles Review of Books, published 12 May 2020,

  21. I’ve written about this many times, beginning with the editorial I penned to launch Performance Review in 2021, “Editorial: Standing, not kneeling”, Performance Review, published on 09 March 2021,

  22. Bishop, “Delegated Performance: Outsourcing Authenticity,” p. 103.

  23. Melbourne Now ran from 24 March through to 20 August 2023.

  24. Bishop, “Delegated Performance: Outsourcing Authenticity,” p.103.

  25. This is the way the NGV is framing this new building on its website. “NGV Contemporary,” National Gallery of Victoria, viewed on 15 September 2023,

This piece forms Performance Review’s first foray into long-form art criticism and is the beginning of a series of deep dives into the practices of Australian performance artists. I would like to acknowledge that this piece has been 12 months in the making and was deferred many times due to the demands of life under techno-neofeudalism (read: it’s impetus for constant productivity). I'd like to thank and express my gratitude to Alicia Frankovich and Tara McDowell for their ongoing dialogue and input into this piece. It’s been a pleasure to sit with these works and Alicia’s practice in such an in-depth way.

Anador Walsh is a Naarm-based curator, writer and the founding director of Performance Review. In 2020 Anador took part in the Gertrude Emerging Writers Program and was the 2019 recipient of the BLINDSIDE Emerging Curator Mentorship. She is the curator of Contact High, Gertrude and Performance Review’s annual performance program and in 2022 curated the Naarm premiere of Angela Goh’s Body Loss at the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia for Melbourne Art Fair. She has written for Art Guide, Runway Journal, Memo Review, ACCA, PICA and the NGV and regularly contributes to The Saturday Paper.

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.