I. Bodies of Work

The Green Vein - performance, from the series mother lode


The Green Vein (Scroll down for highlights from a one hour performance)

The Green Vein is a performative exploration of the technology of food, its propagation, and preservation, and supply through alternative networks. The performance explores this simultaneously ancient and futuristic technological apparatus through an artistic, conceptual and aesthetic ritual constructed by the artist.

On this occasion, The Green Vein is performed in relation to and alongside a new series of photographs also by Shelton, titled mother lode, which depict a contemporary Community Supported Agriculture biodynamic farm in the Wairarapa.

Referencing key performance works by Geoffrey Hendrix (From the Sea, 1985) and Petr Stember (Grafting, 1975) Shelton’s new performance also takes up a visual language which attempts to reconfigure human relationships with nature. In The Green Vein plant material is put into close physical proximity with bodies, conveying intimacy with nature but also throwing up images of nature gods and ritual figures such as the Wicker Man and The Green Man, medieval May Day maidens or Archimboldi paintings that populate multiple Western cultural traditions.

Breaking down the accepted order between contemporary performance art and photography and casting this hierarchical relationship aside, Shelton attempts to create performance in dialogue with image objects and technologies of vision. She attempts to expand and shift the boundaries of those visual technologies, to literally push them outside of the frame, setting them in relation to live bodies and time, and ultimately exploiting the catalyst between these elements.

The Green Vein is also part of a lineage of performance as protest or mode with which one might register dissatisfaction. Just as Wairarapa Eco Farm embodies an alternate mode of farming and model of consumer supply, The Green Vein asks us to examine the structures and technological power that is articulated in, and through the production of our food. We see here that “performance becomes increasingly important as an assertion of minor modes of life”.

Please note: The artist wishes to emphasise that the work is made within Aotearoa New Zealand and takes Māori systems of belief around the sacredness of heads and the commonplace or noa state of food into account through the choreographic processes used to prepare the work. As mentioned above the work intentionally quotes from Western traditions where food has been part of ritual and harvest cultural phenomena. There may be occasions in the work where these two belief systems push up against each other in brief moments of encounter.

  1. Peter Pal Pelbart in Performance in Contemporary Art, by Catherine Wood. Tate Publishng. London 2018, p.227

The Green Vein is performed by Louie Zalk-Neale and Deu Brink, and choreographed by Alessia Augello.