Writing In Public Spaces: A Journal

December 3, 2015


I’m feeling my way back in to the Nijinsky poems today; reaching out my hands with my eyes closed for the relative quietness this project offers me.

I’ve been in a cave-like space, crouching in the dark. For my collaborator Andrew Darling and I have publically performed our improvised performance artwork twice in the past two weeks, and for me to perform publically requires an opening-up that is difficult, and in truth, painful.

Perhaps like many other performers, I need to make myself very raw and vulnerable in order to bring out what’s at the heart and guts. It’s my intention to be in full authenticity in my writing, as in life, and in this project particularly, I want to tease out these states: states of authentic art and living; states of vulnerability.

And so, since the second performance which took place this Sunday night just gone, I have been doing it hard emotionally, having a sense of skinlessness, and I’ve dived deep into the cave-like place that is my extreme sensitivity.

It has been beautiful to observe Andrew in a celebratory, excited space, creating a video of footage of the performance, enjoying the process of looking at the footage and seeing the potential of the work… while I have remained in my post-performance cave for the time being, processing some quite excruciating emotions.

Because Illuminous is improvised performance art, it is different every time we practise or perform it. From the very first session, which took place at Cement Creek, in the forest near Warburton, there was a powerful sense of authentic expression present which took us both by surprise. What is written and played by us varies every time. It emerges in the moment, note by note, word by word, silence and space by silence and space.

This is an image of us, taken by Kate Baker, at work in the Redwoods forest near our homes in Warburton. Here, I know I was in full submission to the improvisation.


Indigo Perry and Andrew Darling - improvisation - in “the Redwoods”, East Warburton Nov 2015 ©Kate Baker www.earthviolets.com.au

Indigo Perry and Andrew Darling – improvisation – in “the Redwoods”, East Warburton Nov 2015
©Kate Baker www.earthviolets.com.au


I rarely remember much of what I have written, by the end of the performance or practice session. It’s like trying to remember a dream. I also don’t recall much of Andrew’s playing, but I hold the shapes and weights of it inside, and it seems both familiar and strange if I listen afterwards to a recording.

We are sharing the video of the most recent performance, which took place at the Hawthorn Town Hall. Vulnerability is very much part of the work indeed and part of its power. And it’s with intense vulnerability that I commit to sharing the footage. Aesthetically, it’s not perfect to me. I would like the projected text to be more deeply infused in the performance space, washing over us like a phosphorescent wave, rather than suspended above us. I would like to have surrendered to full authenticity of the heart and body in my writing: in this performance I was distracted by an awareness of the nature of the event and audience and so I self-censored a little, avoiding very dark themes and imagery and sexually explicit material. I don’t want to do that in future performances. I am dedicated to being in exquisite authenticity and letting what is of the moment be present, no matter how uncomfortable or discomforting.

You can watch the video here, or else visit the Illuminous page and view it from there.


November 18, 2015


I’m writing in the street, my tea has gone cold and the hot wind is distracting.  The discomfort’s apt though, because the poem I’m making the first hesitant gestures towards has a painful, difficult energy to it.

The poem is the tenth in a series I’m drafting for a book project, a collaboration with analogue photographer Kate Baker.  You can look at Kate’s moody, deep, black-and-white photographs at earthviolets.com.au.

The project relates to Kate Baker’s photographic series, ‘Nijinsky and the Ecstasy of the Divine’, the subject of the exhibition Nijinsky: Leap and Pause at Mars Gallery, Melbourne, July-August 2015, and scheduled for further exhibition in 2016. The book will come out in 2016.

The poem I am beginning, in handwriting in my journal, is a kind of conversation with the photograph titled ‘Spring Cometh’.


'Spring Cometh' photograph ©Kate Baker

‘Spring Cometh’
photograph ©Kate Baker  earthviolets.com.au


I’m seeing what comes up, and so far the process begins with fragments of what I know of the Nijinsky ballet The Rite of Spring (2013). Riots erupted at its opening in Paris. Its newness – the strangeness of it – transformed ballet forever. It was not a pretty ballet, but a violent, primal one. As I work at the poem’s first rough and dirty shapes, I get angry, remembering, from deep in the body, times I have felt pushed to take radical, even shocking action to bring about change in a relationship; in my life. Jubilation shows itself too – what it has been like for me to be in a magnificent sense of flowering after dark, inchoate times.

I can feel that I was frowning while I worked.  Back into being aware of sitting in my chair out front of the cafe, blowflies are bothering me and I’m self-conscious all of a sudden.  My heart rate is fast and I’m sweating with the intensity of what I’ve been writing.  I’m ready to go inside and pay, pack up my books, and walk home, feeling as always disoriented by the shift from writing to the walk and to the arrival home.