We make the image together:
About time, memories, places, the act and the image

Memory is not in us; it is we who move in a Being-memory, a world memory. In short, the past appears as the most general form of an already-there, a pre-existence in general, which our recollections presuppose, even our first recollection if there was one, and which our perceptions, even the first, make use of.

Gilles Deleuze. Cinema II: The Time-Image, London: Athlone Press, 1989

Since the late 1970s, Australian artist Jill Orr has explored topics related to the definition of identity, the clash Culture/Nature, and the intimate bond between personal stories and the History, including the constant intersection of pasts, presents and futures which originates from it. Orr’s manifold artistic practice aims at creating a unity of action and stasis, which culminates in a performative image crystallising the creative process into a singular, visual instant.

In Jill Orr’s artwork the awareness of the body and its positioning in the physical world comes together with an attempt to define the self, which is a wander with no landing point, a continuous flux. In her environmental art pieces, Orr addresses the concepts of presence and belonging: who am I? Where do I come from? Is there something for/of me here? The artist transforms her (female) body in a battleground, emphasising an intimate connection with her home country, a troubled land where the opposites meet and melt together, a place of precarious identities.

Orr has often used her artistic practice to explore historical landscapes, sites of memory where the subject moves like in a cognizant day-dream. Her performative pieces convey in one moment—the moment of the act—all the layers of Australian history: the geological history of the territory, Aboriginal history, colonial history, and immigration history. Different temporalities leave a sediment in this single instant, in this act/image, which is both contemporary and historical. Orr does not intend to represent the history, or re-enact it in a fictional way, she rather wants to give a poetic interpretation of time itself, as a confusion of temporalities, a vortex capable of bringing together what has been with what will be or already is. The body of the artist seems to incorporate echoes of far-away myths and memories of a common past, which do not belong to the artist only, but pre-exist her, giving shape to the world as we all know it. Recalling antique impersonal memories and conjectures of the past, and dealing with trans-generational hauntings, the artist’s gestures narrate the present and always refer to the factual reality, which can be touched and experienced directly, vividly and at any time.

We Make the Image Together is a new performance piece conceived by Jill Orr. According to the artist, “this trilogy of performance images is evocative of Pagan rites, that gradually bare the body with a haunting present that does not go away. Humanity creates images that are transmitted collectively influencing consequent actions that follow. Some actions are positive, some are negative, it depends on the perception of meaning. Both image and action, artist and audience are interdependent.”

On Thursday, February 6, within the frame of Present Tense Series, the performance art program of SAVVY Contemporary for 2014, Jill Orr will present a brand-new live performance We Make the Image Together.
Sound: Steve Bell

On Friday, February 7, SAVVY Contemporary invites you to an artist talk with Jill Orr. The artist will highlight her thirty-six years long artistic career and introduce Berlin audience to the specifics of contemporary performance art from Australia.

Jill Orr (b. 1952) is an Australian performance artist and researcher, based in Melbourne.

Her performances, videos, installations and photography explore the body and its positioning within social, political and environmental contexts. In her artistic practice, Orr confronts the interplay of balance and discord in the relationship of the human spirit, art and nature. Orr’s early iconic work Bleeding Trees (1979) has led to such commissions as Marriage of the Bride to Art, Raising the Spirits, Exhume the Grave, Hunger, The Myer Windows, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, Goya and Ash.

Orr has participated in numerous international exhibitions and festivals in Paris, Beijing, Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Antwerp New York, Toronto, Quebec City, Graz, Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Venice. Her works are included in major public collections, inter alia the National Gallery of Australia, Redgate Gallery Beijing, the National Gallery of Victoria, The Graeme Gibson collection, the Monash Gallery of Art and Griffith Artworks. Her works are part of private collections in Australia, Holland, England, France, the United States, China and Belgium. Jill Orr is represented by Jenny Port Gallery.