Brincat commenced a series of walking works in 2008. Over the last 10 years she has made video documentations of actions as a type of self portrait or political statement.
Walk the Line is a companion piece to Lauren Brincat’s Salt Lines: Play It As It Sounds (20116), an epic sculptural instrument fashioned from sailcloth, which is continually reconfigured in allusion to shifting tidal currents.
The work was filmed at Cape Leeuwin on the south-western tip of mainland Australia, considered locally to be the point where the Indian and Southern oceans meet. Brincat invokes this speculative and spectral contact zone as a metaphor for the arbitrary lines that overwrite the world ocean, from meridians and parallels to the International Date Line and, in particular, judicial and territorial boundaries.
This new video belongs to an ongoing series that documents the artist marking out paths through different environments, from a lush empty field to a chaotic urban expressway. These simple propositions, performed with pragmatism, hark back to the instructional scores and minimal movement language of the sixties interdisciplinary avant-garde. Walking is framed as both an expanded act of drawing and as psychosocial mapping, which always culminates with Brincat’s disappearance beyond the limits of the camera’s view.
Departing from the single fixed shot of the earlier videos, Walk the Line progresses through three distinct scenes. The opening sequence shows Brincat’s hands wiping across fossilised geological formations that are scattered along the Cape: an instinctive gesture that describes the ancient surface of the landscape. In the second scene, she picks her way over rugged sand dunes, charting the coastline as physical threshold. The final suspenseful shot shows the artist walk across the beach and into the water, eventually being subsumed into its depths.
Unlike the ‘maintenance’ actions for Salt Lines, which are recurring and relational, Brincat’s performance here is conducted in solitude and hauntingly finite. Distilling the notions of departure and disappearance, it is understated but insistently political. Colloquially, to ‘walk the line’ means to abide by a moral code. At a time when the ocean has become a desperate means of passage to asylum and an ideological battleground, the work quietly foregrounds what is at stake in the permeability of abstract borders.
Text by Anneke Jaspers