In Spite of Myself (2013)

“She is a master of recursion. Gunn possesses, to a profound degree, the ability to suspend contradictory thoughts seamlessly in the same space. At the centre is her riveting performance, which enchants the audience from the moment she appears on stage. If ever an artist manages to have her cake and eat it too, it is Gunn, in spite of herself.” ABC Arts

“What follows is a comic tour de force, a deliciously offbeat blend of physical humour and po-faced ironic monologue that dissects all manner of hideous, navel-gazing theatrical experiments in Gunn’s oeuvre… Given the knife-edge immediacy, lightning wit and sheer unbridled lunacy of the performance, you don’t begrudge a moment.” The Age

“That she can come up with something like this and avoid any charge of self-indulgence is extraordinary. In Spite of Myself is original, hilarious and moving. Serious silliness. There’s nothing else quite like it. She’s brilliant.” Australian Stage

In Spite of Myself is an inter-disciplinary project with two parts: a performance and an exhibition. Autobiographical fiction, subversive humour and visual arts combine to create a performed retrospective. Dr. Susan Becker, Senior Curator and Director of International Art Projects, presents her catalogue essay introducing the world to the work of preeminent performance artist, Nicola Gunn.

Exploring the absent artist as art and celebrity myth-making, the work creates an amusing and at the same time profound portraiture of contemporary culture. Concentrating on the body, autobiography and the fantasy self – and quoting everyone from Foucault to Bleeker, from Deleuze to myself – multiple personas and diverse disciplines are used to narrate a fictional person into being. Playfully appropriating my own identity, the work exists as a conversation between the disparate versions of the person we are, the person we say we are and the person we are not – to make a penetrating and honest critique of capitalism and cultural production. The work is also about invisibility and obsolescence, performed with a rotating roster of old woman.

Conceived, Written, Directed & Performed by NICOLA GUNN
Based on an essay by DANIEL SACK
Dramaturgy DAVID WOODS
Choreography JO LLOYD
Lighting Design GWEN GILCHRIST
Video & Photography PIER CARTHEW
Catalogue Artwork MICHAEL FIKARIS

In Spite of Myself was co-produced by Arts Centre Melbourne and Melbourne Festival. It was developed with the support of the Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria, Arts Centre Melbourne and Vitalstatistix. Photography by Sarah Walker.