Piece For Person And Ghetto Blaster

12 November 2015 | 5:18 pm | Stephanie Liew

"Is the real artist in this scenario the sitting duck?"

In Nicola Gunn's latest performance art piece, she explores the ethics of intervention. Against a white backdrop, she tells us the story of how she was going for a run in Belgium when she saw an Algerian man throwing stones at a duck in a lake, in front of his two small children. This one incident spirals into a lengthy soliloquy about moral superiority, what it means to be a 'good' person (or 'bad' person), hypocrisy, peace and conflict and the lengths we go to to resolve something, and the blurring of art and real life.    

While she is getting through this tale, with many asides and tangents included, she's dancing — it looks a mixture of pilates, contemporary and interpretive dance. Some movements correspond to what she's saying, some don't, but it's all either impressive or entertaining and she's working up a sweat. Choreographer Jo Lloyd definitely makes her work that core.

A boombox comes out part-way through the performance, a symbol of both freedom of speech and the lack of freedom to hear only what you choose to hear. Through it we hear composer Kelly Ryall's layered blips and beats, which build, along with Niklas Pajanti's lighting projections, towards an unexpected climax, before the absurd kicks in. The audience even gets involved, somewhat passively. Is the real artist in this scenario the sitting duck?

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Extremely bizarre, particularly during its home stretch, Piece For Person And Ghetto Blaster asks some philosophical questions and levels the human experience, but it's also just a long, weird anecdote. When Gunn's the one telling it, dousing it in her deadpan humour, it's never a bad thing.