Having secured funding to publish a book, 2010 Georges Mora Fellow, Ross Coulter, is in the process of photographing an audience gathered in every gallery in Melbourne, watching a performance that doesn’t exist. The project tilted “Audience” is a photographic series that documents an audience who is gathered in a gallery space and has been instructed to imagine that they are viewing a performance art event. Participants are required to stand or sit in an empty gallery, in which there is no art, while black and white photographs are taken of them. The subjects are asked to direct their gaze to different parts of the gallery space and evoke a variety of expressions.
By drawing on the visual language of 1970s performance art documentation images, he is seeking to construct a photographic archive of an audience witnessing a number of performance (non) events in and around Melbourne. In this series of black-and-white photographic prints however, the performer and performance are absent, cropped out of the picture. The focus of the images is both the audience, looking on with a variety of expressions as they bear witness to a non-event, and the identity of the gallery space itself. Australian artist and art historian Charles Green notes that, “through documentation (of performance art happenings or events), the exemplary ‘truthfulness’ of performance deteriorates.”