Massaction 1043


Posted on August 31st, 2012 by Jane
Filed Under Art, CWA, Generationalism

CWA Member: What is this? Is it judges training?
Di: No, it’s an art work. It’s a performance.
CWA Member: It is not! Is it?!

This was perhaps my favourite interaction between the women of Brown Council and the CWA. The idea that something these CWA women do as a matter of course – both for the competitions, but also as a domestic activity – could be considered and taken in context as an artwork seemed delightful and exciting.

The relationship between the CWA – both members and staff – and the women of Brown Council has been constantly delightful these pass three days. On both sides, there is an overwhelming generosity as the women from the CWA offer engagement and advice, and the women from Brown Council welcome and celebrate their presence in the room.

Some members have been coming back each day to watch the progress of the work. The interest lies both in the ever-growing collection of cakes on the table, and in the various states of exhaustion of the Brown Council women.

We now have 16 hours and 20 cakes to go. It might be tight, but the atmosphere in the room is that it will certainly be achieved. Much of the fascination in the work is the real-time translation of a text (Jam Drops and Marble Cakes) to an action (baking) to a product (cakes). These cakes are typically baked one at a time, perhaps taking a couple of hours, and Mass Action really shows the size of scale of man hours that goes into the products which appear at a cooking competition.

There is an incredulity that appears on the faces of visitors, especially now with the knowledge of how little sleep the women have got and the table is so flush with goods. This appreciation is heightened by the women coming in who do have a knowledge and appreciation of the skills required behind baking. With only a few exceptions, the cakes are baked to an incredibly high standard; they wouldn’t look out of place in competition.

The worlds the women from Brown Council and many of the women from the CWA occupy are, in many ways, separate. But for this week, the CWA has become a conduit for forming relationships – however passing – between the Sydney based young artists, and the mainly rural based, mainly older CWA women.

As an artwork, it also isn’t a generational intersection you would normally see: these are women I would expect to see interacting with the “heritage” art forms, and here they are excited by a performance art work. More so, this performance is probably, in many ways, more exciting, and certainly more relevant, than many traditional works that their age group is typically associated with.

The space is also being shared, joyfully, with more than members of the CWA and Brown Council; as Mass Action is bring together a truly “intergenerational” audience, from families with young children, and adults of all ages.

On behalf of everyone there is generosity and curiosity. While, at times, relationships between the Brown Council are tense due to the endurance quality of the work, the atmosphere – and the atmosphere that is typically associated with baking – is joyous.