Rogue bureaucrats were at it again in downtown Alice Springs today, in their pencil skirts and pin-striped blouses, markers and whiteboard in tow. They were collecting ideas, any ideas for an agenda … a meeting would be held soon … a meeting of important people …
Or perhaps a mission statement was what was needed … any suggestions?
Many were happy to oblige …
Soon the agenda was looking quite full:
Item 1: Keep smiling because you cannot be taxed on a smile.
Item 2: Find a painting.
Item 3: More activities for ages 18-30. (Now that’s more like it.)
But then the philosophers took over again:
Item 4: I choose happiness.
Item 5: Live the life u luv, Luv the life u live (smiley face).
Nobody reacted with suspicion. Curiosity perhaps and a willingness to have a chat, have a bit of fun. It was a warm day, children were on holidays, Todd Mall was a pleasant place to be and this was something extra, animating the typical stroll in an unexpected way.
It was the latest in a series of live arts events by EXTRA-ordinary Agency whose principals are Franca Barraclough and Melissa Kerl. They’re bringing performance events into everyday life in interaction with ordinary people. In fact it’s hard to see where the arts begin and ordinary life ends and vice versa.
What comes out of it is open-ended, unpredictable. Observable today was light-hearted good humour, empathic exchanges, some soap-boxing, some serious suggestions (the kind you might make in a letter to the council or a politician), some simple statements about what’s important in life. And of course, the little interruption of the ordinary that the ‘agency’ is seeking (not to forget Barraclough and Kerl’s performances – they looked and played their parts perfectly).
I’ve been assured that bureaucrat impersonations are not always the order of the day. With a collaborator, Doug Souter, they have also had fun bringing the domestic sphere into the public place – meals around the kitchen table, watching telly on a couch. There are also some more conventional performances in store. By ‘conventional’ I mean them doing something and you watching, the kind of watching you do when something a little unusual is happening, just enough to jolt you from your day-dreaming or to slow you on your hurried path. Keep your eyes out …
– Kieran Finnane
RELATED READING, one of the agency’s earlier events:
Marketing ploy, bureaucrat creep, joke?