Performer tangled in hairy situation

Sun Herald Culture Column, Andrew Taylor, Sunday 20 February 2011, page 26. Photograph Simon Alekna.

WARNING: Kath Fries's art may make your stomach churn. Last year's Proliferation featured thousands of feathers erupting from the Gaffa Gallery, invading the space and getting stuck to the clothing and hair of those viewing it. "I'm always interested in how people move through and interact with my installations," she said. "But recently I've wanted to take it a step further than just friendly feedback and the occasional photograph where someone is looking a bit nervous about looking at art." Fries's latest installation, Clothe the wold and meet the sky, has the potential to cause anxiety in her collaborator, Patricia Alvarez. The artwork consists of hair extensions knotted into netting, in the middle of which will sit Alvarez. For two hours at Gaffa Gallery next Thursday she will sing and braid her hair into netting until she becomes too entangled to move. "I like how you can see through the netting so there aren't really any hidden surprises," Fries said. "But at the same time... you feel as though you could be engulfed by it." Fries said Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem The Lady of Shallot, with its narrative about a woman weaving, singing and interacting with the world through a mirror, inspired her work. Alvarez, for her part, has used hair extensions in performance art before, exploring how women adorn their bodies, and used her cut-off dreadlocks to create a Santeria doll, which will feature in the work. "The act of weaving hair has been a prominent dance I have found myself enacting over and over again. It has become a natural progression to also find hair growing in my art practice." (Andrew Taylor, Sun Herald, 19 February 2011, page 26)

Collaborative work in progress, 2011

Patricia Alvarez and Kath Fries, Collaborative work in progress - Clothe the wold and meet the sky, 2011,
Mirrors, nylon bird netting, nylon hair extensions, human hair, Patricia Alvarez and her Santeria doll. Dimensions variable.

We were fortunate to be able to use one of the Arcade spaces at Gaffa to do a trail run of our collaborative project. Thanks to Kelly, Zoe and Penny at Gaffa.

Clothe the wold and meet the sky - collaboration

Patricia Alvarez and Kath Fries
Clothe the wold and meet the sky, 2011

Opening night: 6-8pm Thurs 24 Feb 2011 (live performance)
installation & video documentation exhibited until Tues 8 March 2011

Gaffa, Gallery Two, 281 Clarence Street, Sydney, Australia
Gallery hours: Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat 11-5

Patricia Alvarez (performance artist) and Kath Fries (installation artist) present their new collaborative work Clothe the wold and meet the sky, 2011, at Gaffa Galleries Sydney. This live experimental, performative installation develops their overlapping interests in tactility, fibres, feminine archetypes and exposing the creative process.

The title, Clothe the wold and meet the sky, is taken from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s 1833 poem The Lady of Shallot. This famous ballad anchors several of Alvarez and Fries’ collaborative motivations; exploring weaving to extend and entangle the body as well as challenging voyeuristic dynamics of watching and being watched, "out flew the web and floated wide / the mirror crack'd from side to side". 

Alvarez is a musician as well as a visual artist and has played with several Sydney bands. In her visual arts practice she has recently presented performance pieces exploring the mark-marking possibilities of artificial hair and eyelash extensions.
Fries is an installation artist who explores materiality, spatiality, narratives and archetypes in her work. Recently Fries won the Japan Foundation New Artist Award. 

John Fries Memorial Prize 2010 Winners Exhibition

Hannah Bertram and Melanie Irwin 
1st and 2nd winner of the John Fries Memorial Prize 2010 
present their new works in the
John Fries Memorial Prize 2010 Winners Exhibition
Trace Elements
22 February - 16 April 2011
Blackfriars off Broadway
Viscopy’s exhibition space
Open 1 to 5pm Wednesday to Friday 
1 Blackfriars Street, Chippendale  NSW, Australia

In August 2010, Hannah Bertram won first prize and Melanie Irwin won second prize in the inaugural John Fries Memorial Prize at Viscopy, for their works in the Finalists Exhibition at Blackfriars off Broadway. Click here for more information

Visit the artists' websites