Now ON in New York

Idleness Labouritory events now ON in New York

attending, a performance installation at  Syracuse 4-8pm Thurs Sept 1st addresses the aesthetics of attentiveness that both support the institutional place of art and might be practiced by art museum visitors.

attuning, a  24-hour durational performance 9pm Thurs Sept 1st till 9pm Fri  Sept 2nd EST from Point of Contact Gallery Syracuse, transmits the human, non-human and material resonance emanating from a site-responsive collaborative event. Mick Douglas and Julieanna Preston with Kalia Zizi Barrow, Joan Farrenkopf, Coco Ke Huang, Tamara Miller, Joanna Spitzner and Ioana Georgeta Turcan.

appending, a collaborative performance within the PopUpGestureStore of 1067PacificPeople 1067 Pacific St Brooklyn New York 2-8pm Sat Sept 3rd & Sunday Sept 4th 2016 offers embodied gestural exchange encounters as traders in alternative economies of care and supplement.

The Idleness Labouritory challenges modern ideas of labor and idleness to make propositions for an aesthetic ethos of co-creative experience. The Lab develops performative projects, practices and experiences that exceed narrow constructions of idleness as unproductive and labor as productive, so as to reveal lucid, creative and critically enquiring modes of generative activity. The Idleness Labouritory plays with performative ways of questioning, exploring and attributing value in contemporary creative arts practices. Often with the contribution of collaborating participants, Lab activities perform propositional relationships to exchanges of value and potential relations amongst communities of practice, economies, material conditions and ecosystems. The Lab research seeks to generate examples of practices that posit the kind of re-orientations necessary to engage with current challenges facing living systems, including human society.   

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The Idleness Labouritory week in New York residency of Mick Douglas and Julieanna Preston is kindly supported by Syracuse University College of Visual and Performing Arts, Point of Contact Gallery, Massey University and RMIT University.

Mick Douglas works in performance social practice and teaches in the School of Architecture and Design at RMIT University Australia.

Julieanna Preston’s spatial and performance practice is informed by architecture, building, feminist and new materialist philosophy. She teaches at the College of Creative Arts, Massey University, New Zealand.   

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Idleness is a lost art, a forgotten past time, a habit neglected by contemporary life, where notions and actions of work have consumed what was once sacredly free, unfettered and poignant. Space has been transformed into measured time. From the factory to the academy, the fields to the office, incentives, even mandates, to be utterly productive dominate bodies of all shapes, classes and occupations. Work and life are no longer duelling partners but zones of occupation that have merged, often indistinguishable from one another.

The Idleness Labouritory is an experimental space that inquires into what new states, gestures, postures and collaborative events of idleness might be. It serves to unearth what taints idleness as lazy, loitering, unproductive, a waste of time, indolent, slothful, loafing, lethargic and without purpose or effect. It probes what forces prompt dreaming, imagining, still, ponderous, contemplative bodies to have less worth. The Idleness Labouritory seeks to develop a practice around idleness, perhaps even a tool kit of sorts that resists or combats those forces and in the process instills idleness as an alternative habit.

The Idleness Labouritory is a transdisciplinary mobile site of seminars, masterclasses and site-responsive performance gestures initiated by Julieanna Preston and Mick Douglas. The labouritory event relies on their experience in architecture, performance art, industrial design, scholarly practice, building construction and as employees of various institutional machines. It engages expertise from the immediate community and the willingness of participants to risk bearing their unwitting allegiance to pervasive modalities of labour, if only for the duration of the event. The programme can take various forms dependent on the environment and group but typically evolves over a three to four day period to include reading discussions, and drawing and writing exercises coupled with live acts taken into the public sphere.


To date, Idleness Labouritory performances include:


Image by Mick Douglas, 2016.

Image by Mick Douglas, 2016.

Reading Passages and Slothful Inclinations, February 2016, Motutapu Island, Auckland, NZ in collaboration with participants of the PFLAB test workshop.

Slothful Inclinations asks that participants only bring their bodies; there is no preparation involved.

For approximately 20 minutes, assume a mode of idleness, a practice of what it is to be languid and slothful, heavy limp bodies draping over, on, upon and into the surfaces of our immediate environment.

In slow motion, take a languid or slothful posture; draping, easing into the environment around you. Listen intently. Identify a sound and attempt to emulate or compliment it, and in time, play with your sounding’s projection, pace and articulation all the while continuing to melt into the surfaces surrounding you.  At the sound of the gong, shift to a new surface and hence a new posture.

Image by Julieanna Preston, 2016

Image by Julieanna Preston, 2016

Reading Labours, 7-8 March 2016, Performance Lab, Wellington, NZ, hosted by Urban Dream Brokerage and Performance Arcade, in collaboration with Claire Harris, Amaara Raheem, Chris Ulutupu and Lucy Wheeler.

Reading Labours is a participatory durational performance that inhabits the interior space of Wellington’s Performance Lab for a continuous 24-hour period. Twelve participants will commit to inhabit the Lab, locked in, to undertake acts of vocalised reading of selected published texts on topics of idleness, labour, durational performance, oration and poetry, and performance writing and reading. We jointly commit to ensure that the act of reading will always be present and continuous over the 24-hour duration. Performances of reading will shift between diligent and forthright, laconic and languidly as we expand texts into bodily expression and exposition to inhabit them and let them inhabit us. Our individual and collective voices will orchestrate resonances audible to an audience of intent listeners and urban public peering in the street-frontage windows. Pedestrians may observe the ebb, flow and patterning of aural soundings ranging from rhythmic whispers, punctuated rants to cacophonic riffs, whilst bodies respond to diurnal habits and the day and night activity of the city.

attending, 1 September 2016, Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY.

For centuries, idling has acquired a bad name. Who has not grown up with the idioms “Idle hands make light work” or “The devil makes work for idle hands”? Such sayings underpin deep seated values that have become key indicators of contemporary work ethics, and some might even go so far as to state, they prop up capitalistic principles that drive modern society in the developed world. We need only look to the negative connotation of idling from a purely mechanical perspective to recognize how the message is entangled with progress, global economies, mass markets and commodities. According to Omnitracs, a company exploring the future of fleet management:  


Vehicle idling has a direct impact on your bottom line.  You can incur a significant amount of cost in avoidable fuel usage from idling. Idling for one hour can use up as much as a gallon of fuel.  Idling also increases your maintenance costs for general wear and tear. Vehicle idling increases your carbon footprint.  Burning fuel unnecessarily uses up natural resources and increases emissions, which affects the environment. A fleet’s vehicle left idling has a number of negative health implications as well. (


Questioning the effect and affect that these sayings have on everyday life, “Museum Still” redirects attention to the positive and productive sense of idling related to creative, reflective and contemplative activities, a form of mindfulness, that can occur during times of seemingly non-productivity or tasks that incur very little movement or physical exertion. The performance keys into this form of idleness in the labour of a museum guard, a spatial vigilante, poised and ready to act in the interest of protecting the gallery, the art displayed within it and the serious, solemn and respectful demeanour that typically pervades art galleries. Our score, on the day, will be to assume the role of museum guards for the period of one entire shift (approximately four hours: 4-8 pm) in an effort to register and experiment with the subtle shifts of body language in the passage of time in the pursuit of idleness while warding off boredom, disinterest and the appearance of doing nothing, even assuming a level of invisibility. While we will be watching (over) the space, watching for indiscretions of the viewing public, waiting for the inevitability of that moment, we will be invoking a gesture of ‘still-acting’, “a concept proposed by anthropologist Nadia Seremetakis to describe movements when a subject interrupts historical flows and practices historical interrogation. Thus, while the still-act does not entail rigidity or morbidity it requires a performance of suspension, a corporeally based interruption of modes of imposing flow. The still acts because it interrogates economies of time, because it reveals the possibility of one’s agency within controlling regimes of capital, subjectivity, labor, and mobility” (attributed to Lepecki, 2006, 15 in Mark Harvey PhD “Performance Test Labour”, 2011, 66).

Image by Amaara Raheem, 2016

Image by Amaara Raheem, 2016

attuning, 1-2 September 2016, Point of Contact Gallery, Syracuse, NY.

Attuning is a participatory durational performance that inhabits the the Point of Contact Gallery space for a continuous 24-hour period. Up to seventeen participants including Mick and Julieanna will commit to inhabit the space, locked in, to undertake acts of vocalised reading of selected poetry texts. Each person participating in the performance will be asked to bring at least one poem that speaks to their heritage and cultural identity. These texts will be joined by a copy of each of the publications called Corresponding Voices, a series published by the Gallery. The selection of these texts and their oral expression register our aim to frame the performance relative to the gallery’s mission statement to create “opportunities for the exploration of diversity and the exchange of ideas through the verbal and visual arts”. The performance will be amplified to a wider audience through the use of audio technology such as amateur ham radio, the student radio station WERW or other spatial extensions into the public sphere. For example, we may explore the possibility of direct broadcast into particular agreed spaces in Syracuse. In addition, through the last 2 hours of the performance (7pm-9pm) the public will be welcomed into the gallery space to witness and/or participate in the immersive reading including refreshments.

The work is conceptualised relative to the nature of idling as a rarefied state requiring on-going fine-tuning and adjustment to achieve the highest level of efficiency of effort and economy of energy. The performance will see us project our voices and bodies into and onto the gallery space as acoustic passages. While immersed in this contingent and relational activity, one revives the orality and aurality of poetry; the live performance will produce new hybrids through experiments in (mis) pronunciation, enunciation and elocution. This activity shifts the working definition of labour with its connotations to social, political and geographical issues to the generative and emergent life of creative practice and its capacity to multiply exponentially. Labour becomes the investment in doing, making, verbalising and hearing individually and collectively. “Attuning” is a work that finds us jointly committed to ensure that the act of reading will always be present and continuous over the 24-hour duration. Performances of reading will shift between diligent and forthright, laconic and languidly as we expand texts into bodily expression and exposition to inhabit them and let them inhabit us. 

Image from 1067 Pacific People website, 2016.

Image from 1067 Pacific People website, 2016.

appending, 3 and 4 September 2016, 2-8 pm, Brooklyn, NY,PopUpGestureStore in collaboration with 1067 PacificPeople (Andrea Haenggi and Robert Neuwirth).