Sunday, November 16, 2008


Photo: Tracie Miller

17 October – 22 October 2008
Bundanon, Nowra, Australia

This website documents the performance Interior Foil Landscape, its practical approaches and the subsequent written reflections of the 5 day endurance performance undertaken at Bundanon, Australia.

In this performance work I undertook new research that bring a series of parameters together to uncover new ways of making art and seeking acute somatic observation.

For 5 days I inhabited a residential studio devoid of all light and abstaining from food. I had 3km of aluminium foil, which allowed a structural means to make further artistic responses. The resulting space was an installation containing the residue of the 5 day endurance work. The installation was documented visually using 35mm and digital photography.

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All photos © Yiorgos Zafiriou unless noted under image.


Photo: Tracie Miller

The performance was undertaken in complete darkness. No light reached my retinas for 5 days. In the 3 days before the performance began; 10 windows, 1 fireplace, front and rear doors of the space, known as the musicians cottage, were covered with up to 5 layers of industrial plastic coated foil. The space was absolutely light tight. The globe was removed from the refrigerator, where I stored cool water and some peppermint teas I had pre-prepared.

The intention to work in the dark and with aluminium foil was outlined in my initial proposal in 2007. To abstain from food was an additional parameter driven as much by curiosity to discover what effect this may possibly have in terms of art production, as it was by other artists who have used “fasting” in their performance practice; Marina Abramovic, Chris Burden and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. I don’t understand why we call them fasts, because everything became very slow.

There is an integrity to foil that allows for its malleability as a sculptural material. Unlike other materials, it could tear easily, be given structural form and I could attach it to fixtures and furnishings without any mess or damage. Rarely working with metal, after the performance I came to better understand the way the aluminium resonates as a material. When compacted it has a solid metallic mass in defiance to the usual flimsy qualities we attribute to it during food handling.

In the weeks leading up to the performance I sought to purchase the 3km of foil from a wholesale supplier. In the course of my inquiries the brand manager of GLAD foil generously supplied the aluminium foil for the performance at no charge.


I consulted with herbalist, Sophia Anastasiadis from Herbal Farmacy in Marrickville, Sydney. I wanted to ensure I was in a prepared state to undertake the performance and what I could expect during and after the 5 days. For the 6 days before the performance began, I eliminated sugar, caffeine, meat, dairy & my nicotine intake. I was put on a course of herbs to clear out my digestive system. I also reduced my intake of food to only include soft raw fruits and clear vegetable broths. The lead up process of observing my intake also better acquainted me with my digestive system and hunger.

I spent the first three days moving any excess furniture out of the space I was going to inhabit. These were the Kitchen/living/dining area, the bathroom and bedroom. There are two other bedrooms I was not going to use. I set aside a handful of clean clothes. I was nervous of blackouts, because with no light there was going to be no point of reference. I planned move very slowly in the dark. Tracie Miller, who is responsible for the artists in residence made a roster for staff to check on me over the 5 days. I had devised a system where I would gaffer tape a note to the back door after dark, or I would play the piano.

I approached the performance attempting to not think too much about what I was going to make. I had one request from my friend Della who requested a pony. (pictured) I was intrigued to see how the parameters of the performance would direct and dictate what would happen in material terms, both to my body and working with aluminium foil.

I never considered the performance to be the work. I was planning to make sound recordings and use photography to generate the art. The foil went to recycling. It was as if the performance was going to be the site of the work, but the photography was the art. Not until after the performance did I come to understand what a significant work Interior Foil Landscape became.


- Lizard
- Orange
- Mango
- Kookaburra
- Banana
- Pineapple
- Baby Kookaburra
- Vegemite Sandwich
- Toyota Corolla
- Wombat
- Pony
- Snake
- Space Helmet

Not Pictured
Gold Club and Golf ball
Golfing Trophy
Piano Centrepiece

Most of the remaining foil was used to loosely to wrap various parts of the furniture such as table legs. I also compacted the foil into some parts of the kitchen and room corners throughout the space.


Feelings of hunger came and went. It was the first time in 37 years I had not sought to satisfy my hunger. It was an exercise in discipline and introspective somatic observation. The first three days were the most difficult; by day four and five the hunger pangs had become less noticeable. During the five days I made a vegemite sandwich (pictured) and pieces of tropical fruit out of the foil. I spent what felt like a great deal of time thinking about food. What would I eat when I finally concluded the performance and in what order I would consume what little food I had stored in the house. I planned a menu (and cooked it in my head) for the other artists in residence.
The first thing I ate was a banana and some honey I licked off the tip of a teaspoon. It tasted wonderful. I ate soft gentle food for the following three days until my digestive system was reactivated to its pre-fast pace. My first full meal was a dinner of bangers and mash, with peas and gravy on Friday 24 October.

I drank fluids when thirsty, only water and some pre prepared nettle and peppermint teas (600ml/day) I kept in the refrigerator. I only drank the nettle tea for the first 2 days, after which it became indigestible. The peppermint tea was a pleasant treat to look forward to each day. I also had a salt rich liquid (600ml/day) for the last 2 days.

I avoided bathing daily. It was not necessary as I was not expending large amounts of energy or felt I needed to. On day 3 I bathed by washing myself gently with a wet face cloth at the bathroom vanity basin. On day 5 I filled the bathtub with a few centimetres of warm water and had a gentle bath.

I did yoga each day, only kneeling, sitting and lying asanas.

I would write in a sketchbook each day, I kept it by a leg of the coffee table. I would turn the corner when I filled a page and book mark it using a ball point pen.

The space at Bundanon I inhabited is the musicians’ cottage. There was a beautiful Yamaha baby grand piano I would play. I had never played the keyboard before. Through repetition and slowly becoming accustomed with the functions of the foot pedals, I created a 10 minute piano piece I gave as a recital to the other artists in residence on 27 October 2008 (in the dark).

Early on the first day, I had the most energy, which began to wane by the evening. On day 2 my energy level fell dramatically. I spent much time resting. My thoughts were my constant companion. On days 3 & 4 I didn’t have the energy to make anything, so I didn’t, thinking that its ok ‘I might make something tomorrow’.


I did not talk for 5 days. I was in a state of constant observation of my body. What I felt? What I heard? Was I thirsty? Did I feel the temperature change? I came to appreciate that my hearing was acute! I could estimate and isolate sounds that were inside and outside the cottage. Just Like our eyes can focus on a particular point I was taking in multiple sound all of which were perceivable simultaneously. I could shift my focus from one to the other with the remaining becoming part of a peripheral aural mix.

The industrial foil I used on the windows billowed as the wind wrapped itself around the house. The house was breathing, in and out and around. I considered a harmonisation of the exterior and interior spaces. It was the bird life that captivated me. I made 2 Kookaburras.


I had hallucinations. The lack of visual stimulus put my vision in a state where I was constantly seeing what I thought were doorways. I walked carefully toward them but they turned out to be a wall or the piano.

On a few occasions I would be lying down and I could see some colossal visions above me. These sights seemed oblivious to my presence. I recount seeing a Saturn like planet rotating slowly. It was not very vivid but rather muted tones of dark oranges and shades of black. On a few occasions it was like I was in a science fiction film looking at the side of a space ship in three dimensions. The most spectacular was an enormous pair of what I called train tunnels, these were set into a smooth clean concrete slab that continued endlessly into eternity. From each then emerged two enormous shafts of darkness. The tunnels were a few hundred metres high.