It is a little hidden among the hubbub of The Sydney Fringe (which overwhelms and fatigues even the most enthusiastic punter with it’s stranglehold over art events of the Inner West) but a new group show/residency at Tin Sheds Gallery is a lovely collision of worlds.

Curated by Kathryn Gray, 9 performers are given space to present work. Some are installations of a traditional fine art capacity, some are performative installations of a live art or perhaps a performance art sensibility.

The premise from the curator says:
“In a world that tries to distinguish between work and play, Rules of Play explores some intricacies of the space between. From the absurd to the deeply serious the exhibition considers points where – despite our best endeavours to set parameters and make sense of our circumstances – the rules inevitably break down and aspirations must adjust as we continue.”

Though I had oftentimes sat across a table from Teik Kim Pok, tea (or coffee) in hand and discussed the finer and not-so-finer details of life, love, loss, art and ambition – I wanted to experience this in a new context. (A formal context?) A context removed from our usual banter – our usual hour long debriefs and dreaming sessions. So I made my way to experience his work “I’m not a psychic, just a performer” as a part of Rules of Play. I booked a 10 minute session and excitedly awaited what would happen.

While I waited for my session, I chatted to Brian Fuata about his work based on an evolving game of Chinese Whispers amongst the residents (a fascinating undertaking about memory and how story is transmitted between people). I also caught a small section of a beautiful film by Michael Poetschko examining memory and what it means to forget.
(There was a moment when I sat transfixed at his film – feeling excited – like I was about to run a race – and then I felt so sweetly sad that I was happy. That may seem to make no sense and perhaps it doesn’t (at least in text) but at the time it was beautiful.)

On a cushion on the floor TK and I sit. A small cup of tea for me. Four piles of cards. He explains the format.
Each pile represents an aspect – career, relationships, finance and health. Each stack of cards contains advice or wisdom collected from volunteers. There is nothign psychic about this. He askes me which pile I woudl like to draw a card from, I am happy for him to choose. Health it is. The advice is “try something new everyday.” I chuckle. It’s been nearly a month without going to the gym and doing some weights – and I feel the sogginess in me. I think of how fixated and reliant on routine I am. We talk about attitudinal shifts in thinking about health and fitness – and I admit that really I feel uncomfortable as an embodied person, that I am not interested in what I look like as I live so much in my head. Any awareness of my body makes me feel sad because I am conscious of its inherent decay and transience. I cry a little. He suggests that perhaps this card is suggesting a new way of thinking about the mind/body split. I’m happy to ruminate on that.

I choose next. Relationships. The card says something about that some people are extroverted and some people are introverted and that it’s important to work out which one you are and to make sure that you find a balance between the two states. This is something I think about a lot. I enjoy my private time – but I love people and being out in the world. Balance is important and I don’t always get it right.

I am happy to leave it there, and he asks if I want one more. I say no, then change my mind. Career. He fans the cards out. I choose. I flip the card “Just be yourself.” I laugh loudly. And that’s it.

Ultimately reassuring – as all conversations with TK are – but this is a structured conversation made up of the collective wisdom of people walking in the world. And it’s lovely.

I am then invited to sit at the desk nearby, follow some instructions in order to offer some advice to the next participants. I write something about putting regret and fear into perspective.

I thank TK.

I walk out into the world and feel ultimately optimistic about the world and the people in it.

I’m not a psychic, just a performer
Personal Reading with The Artist
Teik Kim Pok
Tin Sheds Gallery Wilkinson Building 148 City Road Tin Sheds Gallery, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY 2008
Bookings: http://notapsychic.eventbrite.com/

As a part of:

Rules of Play
9 September – 1 October2
Curated by Kathryn Gray
Kathryn Gray, Bernadette Anzengruber, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Michaela Gleave, Michael Poetschko, Teik-Kim Pok , Sarah Rodigari, Nina Stuhldreher and Brian Fuata