O2 – Wilderness and Mischief


Allan McQuillan, 2011

6.30pm, Tuesday 6 March 2011, Sculpture Seminar Room

We present two panel discussions: one on Wilderness and the other on Mischief. The artists speaking on Wilderness are interested in the wilderness physically or our sensibility or consciousness of it. Shamanism, the Sublime, Archetype and the Self are recurring themes. The Mischief panel comprises artists who subvert, disrupt, critique and side-step with a twinkle in the eye or who simply question the premise of tacit norms of behaviour and perception.

Wilderness Panellsts: Alan McQullan, Nicky Deeley and Miriam Austin (Chair: Nigel Rolfe/Jack Tan)

Michief Panellists: Peter Georgallou, Wonwoo Lee, Jim Woodall, Roy Kerr (Chair: Connor Linksey)


Quotes from Nigel Rolfe’s introduction:

DEEP FORREST: Somewhere deep in the jungle are living some little men and women. They are our past and maybe they are our future.

Terry Tempest Williams

“If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go…. This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future.

Joseph Conrad,

“The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.”
Heart of Darkness

Werner Herzog: I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility, and murder.

Joseph Conrad

“I tried to break the spell–the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness–that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him out to the edge of the forest, to the bush, towards the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations; this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations.”
Heart of Darkness

Kurtz: [intercepted radio message] I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving.

Gourevitch, Philip
“The so-called survival instinct is often described as an animal urge to preserve oneself. But once the threat of bodily annilation is removed, the soul still requires preservation, and a wounded soul becomes the source of its own affliction; it cannot nurse itself directly. So survival can seem a curse, for one of the dominant needs of the needy soul is to be needed.”
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with our Families

Steve Mann

Shoes and clothing damage our ability to survive naked in the wilderness.

Lee Krasner in an interview with Dorothy Strickler (1964-11-02) for the Smithsonian Institution Archives of American Art. In Krasner’s words, “When I brought Hofmann up to meet Pollock and see his work which was before we moved here, Hofmann’s reaction was — one of the questions he asked Jackson was, do you work from nature? There were no still lifes around or models around and Jackson’s answer was, ‘I am nature.’ And Hofmann’s reply was, ‘Ah, but if you work by heart, you will repeat yourself.’ To which Jackson did not reply at all.” The meeting between Pollock and Hofmann took place in 1942. ▪ I am nature.(1942)

Black Elk (Oglala Sioux)

“Is not the sky a father and the earth a mother, and are not all living things with feet or wings or roots their children?”


Fall and Hit, Nigel Rolfe 2010

Dark Pool, 2010 by Nigel Rolfe. For more: http://ianaldenrussell.com/projects/nigel-rolfe-residency


The Black Rock Desert

The Black Rock Desert is a thoroughly flat, prehistoric lakebed, composed of a hardpan alkali, ringed by majestic mountains. Daytime temperatures routinely exceed 100ºF and the humidity is extremely low, which rapidly and continually wicks the moisture from your body. Because the atmosphere is so dry, you may not feel particularly warm, but you’ll be steadily drying up. Sunscreen, lip balm and skin lotion are your best friends on the playa. At nearly 4,000 feet above sea level, the atmosphere provides much less filtering of the sunlight which causes sunburn. As a result, you will burn much faster and more severely than at lower elevations. Put on sunscreen every morning and repeat as needed during the day.

Don’t be surprised if you spend your first day feeling a bit queasy and cranky. Begin drinking more water as you approach the desert. To stay healthy and enjoy the week, drink water all the time whether you think you need it or not. Drinking up to one gallon of water per person per day is the rule of thumb.

Remember to eat proper salty foods Remember to eat proper salty foods to prevent electrolyte imbalance. Users of alcohol, caffeine or other drugs are particularly at risk for dehydration, and should pay careful attention to their water intake. Dehydration can cause headaches, stomach cramps, abdominal pains, constipation, or flu-like symptoms. It exacerbates both heat-related and cold-related conditions (i.e. heat exhaustion and hypothermia), and makes it difficult for the body to mend itself. If someone you know complains of these symptoms, or shows signs of either severe overheating or (worse) a case of chills under the mid-day sun, get them to shade immediately and seek prompt medical help. In case of emergency, go to the Medical Clinic at Esplanade & 5:15 or an Emergency Services Station near the Civic Plazas. Medical staff are always on duty and evacuation is available.

Some signs that you may not be drinking enough water:

You don’t carry a water bottle with you at all times.
You swill instead of drinking deeply.
You wait to drink until you’re thirsty – too late!
Your urine is anything but clear and abundant.
You become cranky.
(Read more from The Burning Man’s Survival Guide: http://www.burningman.com/preparation/event_survival/index.html)


Either I mistake your shape and making quite,

Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite

Call’d Robin Goodfellow: are not you he

That frights the maidens of the villagery;

Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern

And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;

And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;

Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?

Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,

You do their work, and they shall have good luck:

Are not you he?

(Act ii., Scene i. A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

‘Catface helps an old lady be safe. But kidnapping isn’t mischief. It’s being a dick.’

The Notre-Dame Affair was an action performed by Michel Mourre, Serge Berna, Ghislain Desnoyers de Marbaix, and Jean Rullier, members of the radical wing of the Lettrist movement, on Easter Sunday, 9 April 1950, at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, while the mass was aired live on national TV. Mourre, dressed in the habit of a Dominican monk and backed by his co-conspirators, chose a quiet moment in the Easter High Mass to climb to the rostrum and declaim before the whole congregation a blasphemous anti-sermon on the death of God, penned by Berna;

Today, Easter day of the Holy Year,
Here, under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris,
I accuse the universal Catholic Church of the lethal diversion of our living strength toward an empty heaven,
I accuse the Catholic Church of swindling,
I accuse the Catholic Church of infecting the world with its funereal morality,
Of being the running sore on the decomposed body of the West.
Verily I say unto you: God is dead,
We vomit the agonizing insipidity of your prayers,
For your prayers have been the greasy smoke over the battlefields of our Europe.
Go forth then into the tragic and exalting desert of a world where God is dead,
And till this earth anew with your bare hands,
With your PROUD hands,
With your unpraying hands.
Today Easter day of the Holy Year,
Here under the emblem of Notre-Dame of Paris,
We proclaim the death of the Christ-god, so that Man may live at last.

The action and the events leading up to and following it are described in detail in Michel Mourre’s autobiography.The authors of the action, young bohemians tied to Lettrism, an avant-garde movement surrounding Isidore Isou, were all arrested by the police, and thereby saved, in effect, from the furious mob that chased them from the church. The only one held for any length of time was Mourre, himself a former Dominican monk and the instigator of the whole affair. As his fate was being decided, dozens of prominent voices from culture, the church and the state joined a debate in the newspapers on the merits or (more commonly) not, of the provocation.

In particular Combat, an organ of the French Resistance, began with a commentary by its editor Louis Pauwels condemning the action; but a vehement letter in response by André Breton, attacking Pauwels for his “partial account,” and defending the actions, escalated the debate; to it were devoted eight days of coverage and a running editorial forum amounting to a total of twenty-some articles by such figures as Jean Paulhan, Pierre Emmanuel, Maurice Nadeau, Messieur the Police Commissioner, le curé de Saint-Pierre de Chaillot, Gabriel Marcel, Benjamin Péret, and René Char.


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