LOL recently visited this year’s iteration of the national graduate show, Hatched, at PICA in Perth. Included in the exhibition was a video of an endurance performance by WA artist Alex Wolman entitled ‘Brief Candle’. In it, Wolman screams relentlessly – for 51 harrowing minutes – until he physically can’t scream any more. In fact, he inadvertently burst a lung in the process.
A link between this work and Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s 1978 performance ‘AAA AAA’ is immediately apparent. Both works are distressing in their positioning of the audience as inherently passive. As viewers we witness subjects in a state of extreme physical distress yet we’re powerless to help them. Wolman’s work in particular has an urgency and rawness to it that makes walking away from ‘Brief Candle’ virtually impossible. Instead, we must bear witness to his horrible struggle, egging him on to the inevitable point of conclusion.
You can watch Alex Wolman’s ‘Brief Candle’ here.