Green Room / Arcadia

By: Linda Goodman

Deej Fabyc is an artist who works in performance, performance installation, combined with drawing, video, photography as well as sporadic painting and sewing. She has exhibited throughout Europe, the USA and nationally in Australia since 1982.

In her work entitled Green Room / Arcadia at W139 there is a specific embodiment of issues, such as invisibility and display; how these notions are processed through space and time. Fabyc says “The articulation of space is of paramount importance to my practice, over and over it has become important to extend my body to the limit by building rooms in which to perform… to find derelict rooms, to build rooms for an audience to circumnavigate. Coexistent with this fetish for construction is a phenomenological yearning towards a corporeal representation of mind and memory.” It is clear in this work that Fabyc’s concerns are becoming less personal.

Green room /Arcadia is a 4m x 4m enclosure, constructed from light weight white concrete bricks. There is no direct viewing chamber directly from the gallery, instead one must go to the street at Warmoesstraat 131, to watch a TV monitor linking the inside of the enclosure to the outside world. To the public; the tourists, the drug pushers and drunkards that walk along Warmoesstraat by the hundreds or possibly thousands each day who may accidentally or incidentally come across the T.V monitor which has been slotted into the window of a building. This audience peer into the cracks of the door frame searching for a glimpse of the action they can see on the T.V. A closer inspection of the monitor reveals a sign directing them to enter the gallery a few doors down.

Once in the gallery, sounds are heard from within the walls of Fabyc’s enclosure. Some are barely audible, the turn of a page, the sound of a pin dropping or the squeak of a pencil on paper. Other noises are loud and clear, white high heeled boots briskly walking to and fro or a kettle boiling. The only visual action is the sight of a green basket been hauled up via a rope and balancing on the ledge before plummeting to the outside gallery space. Inside the basket there might be a message or a request, for example “Can I have some coffee?” Or “Please don’t bang on the walls its very rude”. The audience’s response to the messages varies. Some shout “Hello! Hello! are you there?” Others put messages back into the basket -“Can I come and live with you?” Fabyc replies a firm “No!” Or, “Will you write to me – this is my address…”, a strange request since Fabyc is a mere foot away.

The audiences messages clearly deal with the frustration of communication that is not face to face. Self expression and articulation are often difficult, private thoughts may remain hidden. It seems there is always an inability for one person to really know another. Fabyc wishes to point this out. As an Australian artist she is also a long way away from her milieu; indeed to be Australian connotes a sense of isolation, in spite of email and aviation.

The project itself is an echo of an earlier experience of the artist, it is also about coming to the second most densely populated country in the world, (the Netherlands) from one of the least populated countries (Australia). To somehow recreate this distance within the gallery.

The word Arcadia in the title refers to the dual aspects of the notion of Arcadia, that of the mythological bountiful garden (Holland) and the wild place(Australia) The Australian landscape has many aspects, this country is a place of sustenance, religious significance and beauty for the indigenous people of Australia; but it was seen as a harsh, barren inhospitable place to the European invaders. Holland’s highly constructed environment leads people to produce Arcadian gardens for themselves. A place of revival and consolation. Seventeenth century Dutch painting also presents an Arcadian glimpse of the landscape.

Perhaps more cynically, notions of trans national global consumption are brought into play. In Green Room /Arcadia, ones first impression is of the utilitarian and practical. The tables and chairs are a pasty green colour, as are a fake fur carpet and green polyester covered duvet, Hardly a natural environment in spite of the herb garden she built in the centre of her “landscape’. She is not self sufficient and probably some of the components of her environment were produced in exploitative circumstances in the third world. However it would be an error to interpret Fabyc’s performance as a comment on the circumstances of the millennium, as this work also has a sense of chirpy optimism and humour about it.