On 23 March, 2014, Catherine and Amy, with choreographer Ashley Dyer, presented two work-in-progress showings of Nothing to See Here (Dispersal), as part of Arts House’s Festival of Live Art program. A performance about the maintenance of public order in our society, Dispersal was first performed in the main hall at North Melbourne Town Hall and a second time at the Meat Market Oven space.
Dispersal was a choreography of crowd dispersal in which a team of twenty-two performers employed the techniques of crowd controllers, security guards, ushers and police to circulate, maneuver and divide the audience. Over approximately 45 minutes, attendees at the performance were denied the possibility of assembling freely, and through a number of means were progressively delayed, detained, herded and removed from the performance.
What was left behind were cleared-out spaces and voids, demarcated with barrier tape, in which it was declared there was ‘nothing to see’. The final few audience members left in the room were encircled, forcibly grouped together and ‘kettled’ in temporary fencing.
Around the world, protests and public gatherings are often broken up by police. Dispersal was created in consultation with people who have real-life experience of the techniques police use to break up protests, including a criminologist, a lawyer, the Victoria Police media liaison unit, an experienced event management consultant and a senior figure in security at the City of Melbourne.
For this work philosophy researcher and poet, Gene Flenady, was commissioned to reflect on the work’s political capacity. Copies of his essay, accompanied by an absurd feedback form, were made available to the audience as they were exited from the performance.
Below is a series of video interviews Das Platforms conducted with Festival of Live Art artists that includes a clip where Amy and Catherine talk about Dispersal.