In Search of A/The Point of Life


4 artists present at RHUL’S POLYply on ‘Consumption’, 14 March 2013, from 19:00hrs

Alexander Costello writes: “I am an artist. I am an idiot. Vincent Van Gogh said “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don’t know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas, which says to the painter, ‘You can’t do a thing’. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerizes some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of `you can’t’ once and for all.” I am an idiot, according to Van Gogh. Perhaps that’s why I’m not a painter. Indeed I am not a painter. Rather I have been co-habiting with blank canvases in my studio for the last year, thinking about how to approach them and what to do with them. A friend (a painter) gave up painting because she was overwhelmed by the fear of committing to the mark on the canvas, paralysed by the thought that its potential would instantly be dashed, her credibility with it. She knew there would be no going back. This is my point of departure… In addition, I was born in London, 1976, studied BA Hons Fine Art (Scuplture) at Middlesex Universtiy (1996-99) and MFA Media at Slade School of Fine Art (1999-2001)”

Rebecca (Becky) Cremin works in process and draws on traditions of live art, fluxus, performance writing and site specific work to construct a hybridity of practice which uses language as an object to expose, to investigate, to locate. She is a founding member of the poetic collective PRESS FREE PRESS.  She is currently undergoing a practice based PhD researching sites of and for poetic performance. Her publications include ‘To be on a page’ in Dear World & Everyone In It: New Poetry in the UK (Bloodaxe), Occupancy in VLAK, (Litteraria Pragensia), she as again : again as she in Viersome 01 and LAY’D both from Veer Books and Cutting Movement from The Knives Forks and Spoons Press. Her poems have featured in Blart, Department, Klatch, Veer About, How2 and beyond. Her performances take place in galleries, pubs, on council estates, in her bedroom, in the street, in the book and on the page.

Ulli Freer lives and works in London , and has been active over a number of years. He is a member of the Veer editorial collective. His work has been published in a several magazines including AND, Curtains,Veer Away, Cleave2. Publications include Blvds (Equipage, Cambs), Sandpoles (Equipage, Cambs), Eye Line (Spanner, Hereford ), Speakbright Leap Password (Salt Books, Cambs), Burner (Veer Books, London ), Recovery (Rot Direct, London).

John James left his native city of Cardiff for Bristol where he first produced the little magazine The Resuscitator with Nick Wayte. Later he moved to Cambridge where he became one of the group closely associated with The English Intelligencer. His recent books include In Romsey Town Equipage 2011 and Cloud Breaking Sun Oystercatcher Press 2012. A Collected Poems appeared from Salt in 2002.

Kai Syng Tan will present On Eating Gum (and the Distasteful Art of My Body). ‘In Autumn 1994, I ate gum in front of the crowd in London. I did it because I could. Because my body was my medium. Because I was in London, where gum was not banned, and because using my body to make art was not banned and not considered as distasteful’. In this presentation, Kai talks about how eating chewing gum was her starting point to use her body as a medium of expression, and how concepts and practices from the Chinese way-of-life of Daoism has helped her to contextualise this ‘body art’. Trained in London, Chicago, Tokyo and Singapore, Kai is a restlessly peripatetic mutt. The interdisciplinary work of the artist-curator-educator has been shown in more than 45 cities (Biennale of Sydney; Transmediale; ICA London; Guangzhou Triennale), and she has won several awards (San Francisco International Film Festival Merit Award for Experimental Video, Young Artist Award, Most Promising Young Artist Award), grants (three scholarships), and residencies (NIFCA, Japan Foundation). For several years Kai was an advisor in a panel at the Media Development Authority of Singapore, and worked as lecturer and programme leader in an art university and film school, as well as a digital arts consultant. Named ‘one of Singapore’s foremost video artist’ (Dr Eugene Tan 2007), Kai’s permanent video installation is on display in a central subway station in Singapore. Kai is currently a PhD candidate at the Slade.

POLYply is organised by Dr Kristen Kreider and Dr Will Montgomery.

‘About running, the runner’s high, playing Nondon Ambassador and feeling good: Kaidie’s experience of the Nondon 2012 Olympics’.

Talk on Friday at the RCA 14:30-15:30hrs as part of TRAND 5: Whatever Next? London 2013 and beyond, 8 February – 8 March. Convened by Joe Kerr and Sarah Teasley .
Other speakers in the series include authors Iain Sinclair, Will Self and Travis Elborough, designer and academic Sophie Thomas, filmmaker Paul Kelly, and musician Bob Stanley.

Slade Performance Day, 2013 February 15th, Friday

How trans-running was Kaidie’s sport and trans-port

How trans-running enabled Kaidie to outwit surveillance

How trans-running was Kaidie’s playful way to subvert the male gaze

Kaidie's Unbound Chinese Feet

My Destiny Is In My Own Feet!

12.12.2009 – 09.09.2012, KAIDIE NONDON


3 days before my expiry on 09.09.2012. I make a d-Tour to dOCUMENTA 13 to transfer my final, world-changing messages. I run into problems right away: 1) My session follows one that was over-long – and still over-run (!!3 hours 20 minutes!!) 2) The running time assigned for lunch is hence cut down. So, only 12 people turn up at my 2pm run. The other 20 have walked-out – some of whom are no doubt the oh-so-precious-well-heeled-high-falutin-arm-chair-critics-cynics who must not to be caught dead in such uncouth/mindless/embarrassing/juvenile act as running. I’m running out of time – but not breath. I get on with it.

‘Hello world! Come join me in my “running discourse”! Let’s warm up. Stretch your muscles and your imagination. Let’s divide ourselves into 3 groups. Run for 3-minutes while discussing on one of these topics: DISCOURSE A: Walking versus running (biological and psychological similarities and differences). DISCOURSE B: The correlation between movement and thinking (thinking when moving versus sitting still? Lying in bed? Running? Cycling? Which is most conducive?). DISCOURSE C: The nature of discourse itself (one-way? dynamic? Versus other modes of communication such as a giving a paper at a conference?) Pay attention to how your body respond to or transform your thoughts!’ After the run, participants gather together to their findings. ‘Fun!’ ‘Feel ache on muscles I didn’t know I had!’ ‘Nice breeze on my face when running!’ ‘Tipsy after a night out, I tend to sprint home.’ ‘Too short! Want to run more! Want to discuss more!’ ‘Too distracted by the beautiful scenery of the beautiful park of Park Schonfeld to think properly!’ ‘I have to move to think, can’t think when still!’ ‘Nice day to run about in the field!’

I share my own findings too. These findings have been gathered from my past 996 days of running. ‘We’ve run for 3 minutes – but we human beings have run for 2 million years. Our “gluteus maximus”– or bum – are very maximus – to balance us while we run. When you run while you are high, you are following in the footsteps of the Raramuri people of Mexico who brew their own beer and run for hundreds of miles. And they’ve done that for hundreds of years. Without beer, running can make you high too. For scientists, this “high” is the production of neurotransmitters that make us happy, so linking our body and mind. For runners, this ‘high’ can be conducive to creativity – so linking running with thinking. For example mathematician Alan Turing conceptualised the computer while running.’ ‘On the other hand, or feet, Daoist sage Lao Zi linked the feet with the head, movement with life and thinking. You can see the latter in the Chinese word “dao”, which refers to both course and discourse. I pinpoint this thinking to poetic thinking: non-linear, creative, associative. I also pinpoint this movement to running, because the 16th century Latin etymology of “discourse” (“discursus”) refers to running from place to place, and runners were employed as messengers or ambassadors around the same time (15th-18th century).’ ‘So, I propose that as the running-ambassador transferred messages, neither ambassador nor recipient were passive, but were active agents themselves who, along the way, customise and transform the messages. In so doing, the messages are more than messages, but discourses. Such are to-and-fro exchanges that are alive, active and dynamic. New discourses and new knowledge are created. The process is creative and poetic, and can be an artwork. The running itself can be an artwork.’ And finally: ‘Thank you for allowing me to share my message of running. My name is Kaidie, and I have been your running-ambassador. Or trans-running-ambassador. Or, to be extra arsey, trans-running-amb-ASS-ador. I hope that you can personalise my messages, play with them, transform them, and further pass them on, keep the discourse alive, and open up 10,000 more discourses. Good bye.’ With that, I run off, into the sunset, and live happily ever after (for 3 more days). Life, as they say, goes on.

For an early video (circa January 2012) that provides a run-down of the correlation between running and discourse: click, run the video, hear, watch. Some of these photographs have been taken by Dr. Hayley Newman With special thanks to: Dr. Sharon Morris, and Trespasser (for being a trail-run-ner of this performance), and the participants of the session.

You are invited to Yonder, Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, PV September 7, Exhibition September 8- October 21. From down under, will Kaidie die a series of deaths (jetlags included), until she finally goes at 9 September 23:59 hours Nondon time? To Be Continued…

(One of) Kaidie's last acts, which opens 2 days before she moves on on the 9 September... Special thanks to curator Jasmin Stephens for helping to orchestrate Kaidie's death in this leg.

An extract from the PICA website (click to run there)

dOCUMENTA 13, September 6, Park Schönfeld, Kassel: Come run with Kaidie in a running-discourse!

What: dOCUMENTA 13

When: September 6, 14:00-14:45hrs

Where: Park Schönfeld, Frankfurter Strasse 167, 34121 Kassel, Germany

About Kaidie’s running-discourse:

The Chinese word for discourse, ‘dao’ (‘tao’), consists of the radicals of a head and feet, linking thinking and movement. It can be argued that the specific locomotion is running. This speculation comes from the fact that the Latin root word of discourse, ‘discursus’, refers to running to-and-fro. These two strands of thought are brought to life in this work, in which visitors can join ‘Kaidie’ in a light run while running light-hearted and light-footed discourses about the themes of dOCUMENTA 13 and EARN. Kaidie can be understood as a facilitator, leading the run as well as discourse alike. However, what happens along the way – digressions, deviations, walk-outs included – is up to her co-runners.

With this work, we are not only following in the footsteps of the Chinese sages who were peripatetic and equated nimbleness with life, stillness with death. We are also evoking the spirits of mathematician Alan Turing and novelist Haruki Murakami, for whom running played an important part of their creativity. Moreover, this work can be understood as a playful affront to traditional or dominant approaches of knowledge production. Additionally, Kai’s PhD research (in both her written thesis and studio practice) focuses on running, in both the literal and figurative senses of the word, and as both subject matter and methodology. Hence, this work can be seen as a metaphor for the tension between art and research, which seems to be one of the oft-debated points about the value of the ‘Fine Art PhD degree’.

Possible topics of the discourses during the run include:

  • the possibilities of artistic research
  • the tension between artistic creation and its place in the institution;
  • the possibilities of discourse, including the ‘non-discursive, the not-knowing, the intuitive’;
  • if knowledge production is considered as ‘productive’ in a capitalistic economy
  • non-logocentric approaches to discourse

COME JOIN KAIDIE FOR THE COURSE-DISCOURSE – held 3 days just before her expiry on 9 September, this may well be Kaidie’s last!!

A part of: EARN workshops at dOCUMENTA 13: A platform for current doctoral artistic research

About the workshops: This unique two day programme of workshops brings together 26 practitioners engaged in formal graduate research studies through an ongoing art practice. The programme includes a variety of workshop formats from discussion groups to practical workshopping and from presentations of work in progress to exploratory mappings of emergent fields of enquiry. The presenters include both internationally established artists/curators and artists/curators emerging into a space of international visibility for the first time. The overall goal of this two day platform of workshops is to provide an introductory overview of artistic research models as manifested across a variety of graduate programmes within the European Artistic Research Network. It is also intended that this two day programme may act as a lead-in to the major conference organised as part of dOUMENTA(13) on Saturday 8th And Sunday 9th of September. It is anticipated that a survey of divergent models and practices across the EARN network will help to inform subsequent debate by mobilising specific concrete exemplars of doctoral work in contemporary art to supplement and perhaps counteract more abstract and generic notions of “the academic” and “the institutionalised” etc. (Dr Mick Wilson)

* Book here to attend the event at dOCUMENTA

* For more details about other workshops and context: click and click again

* For more details about EARN European Artistic Research Network

* For more details about Slade: click yet again

* Getting there from Nondon: 1) Take a budget plane from a cheap airport (but before that, buy a cheap bus ticket to get out of Nondon to said cheap airport located in what is allegedly still ‘Nondon’) 2) Fly 3) Arrive at Frankfurt, Dortmund or Hannover airports, all of which are NOWHERE near Kassel but, before the Kassel Airport is open (NOT this year, during the once every 5 years grand Documenta, but NEXT year) this is the path of least lousiest resistance 4) Take an exorbitantly-priced ICE train, ssssspeedy at 3 hours or so, to Kassel’s Wilhelmshölhe (after negotiating the challenging website, and after taking some shuttle bus service or another to another train station ‘near’ airport) 5) Use tram line 3, 4 or 6 to get to ‘Rathaus’ 6) Change to Tram 5 to get to the said Park, not respelt here since its hard  to umlaut the ‘o’s. 7) Participate in Kaidie’s life-changing performance and evaluate if any part of this has been worth it.

Alternatively, simply RUN. See why/how the usefulness of running now??????

KAIDIE’S FINAL 30 DAYS: Exploring (extra-)terrestrial trails.

I did not, however, ask the Legendary Old Kings X Gentleman In White (bottom left, standing, beneath the rail sign). He could have known.

KAIDIE’S FINAL 33 DAYS: Want to OFFER help? Come to Kings X.

Any kind person keen to offer help on how/where to find the/a Meaning of Life, come to Kings X Station today. Kaidie, adorned in bright pink and purple as Nondon Ambassador, will be waiting for YOU. Last week, these Nondon visitors tried, but Kaidie's still left clueless.

KAIDIE’S FINAL 38 DAYS: Lost? So is Kaidie. Wayfinding with / by the Nondon Ambassador

KAIDIE’S FINAL 42 DAYS: A ROUSING START to the Greatest Show On Earth (and the Trans-runner’s run-up beginning to her Big End)

The peasants are revolting, the world is revolving (and salutes to Sir Tim Berners-Lee).

THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS (Day 956, or the final 44 days of Kaidie’s run for her life)

(One of, or five of) Danny Boyle’s Secrets at the 2012 Nondon Opening Ceremony, which was Spectacular for Kaidie the Spectator and Near-Spectre. With these rings of fire, the 2012 Nondon Olympics opens, and Kaidie runs towards her dead-line.


Garmin GPS watch loaned to Kaidie by Urbantick; photo of Kaidie snapped by Trespasser.


Comings & goings, goings, gone: Save the surprise, says Danny Boyle. So, a pixellated prelude to Nondon 2012. What’s going to happen? (Image of the Nondon Ambassador by a [Pixellated] Trespasser)

A Photo of the Photo-finish in fool glory, in action, in situ

Thank you for attending the Private View of The Games – Inspiring Images at Connaught Brown on the 18th July 2012, at W1H 4SD in Nondon. Pictured here is the Kaidie’s 2012 Nondon Olympics Photo Finish in its fool glory, in action, in situ. To the left of the work is that by runner-artist Jun Nguyen Hatsushiba, and to the right is that by Jamaica’s Albert Chong. Kaidie is shot here, nearly photo-finished, with the director of the gallery, Mr. Anthony Brown. Edition one is sold, with Kaidie’s broken toe nail and all, and to be displayed in the living room of the buyer soon. 4 more to go / come your way. Hurry, bye one, get one (not free)!

**2012 May 30: Recorded version of performance-lecture at the Centre for Mobilities Research, Lancaster University**

This is a recorded version of a performance-lecture presented at the Lancaster University’s Sociology department’s for Centre for Mobilities Research Annual Research Day, 30 May 2012. Present at the session was the Distinguished Professor John Urry. Professor Monica Buscher made 3 inspiring presentations. The conference was hosted by the wonderful Professor Colin Pooley. Music, as usual, by the indefatigable longtime collaborator Philip Tan.


Has Kaidie abandoned her mission/vision/quest for A / The Meaning Of Life and re-incarnated / is re-incarnating into a guide for the Bloomsbury Festival on the topic of Art & Society in Bloomsbury, Nondon??????


Art time, life time, passing time. Teh-Ching Hsieh with Kaidie, 20 June 2012, Hayward Lecture Theatre, Nondon.

On 20 June 2012 Wednesday, Kaidie runs into one of her forerunners, the legendary Taiwanese-American performance artist Teh-Ching Hsieh at the Wide Open School, Hayward Gallery, Nondon. Hsieh’s seminal durational performances, in particular One Year Performance (Outdoor Piece, 1982-1982), has been guiding Kaidie in her running about, 30 years on (2009-2012), not to mention that, before that, before Kaidie was Kaidie, Hsieh’s quiet but powerful works have been inspiring her in her journeys. As Kaidie prepares to run further, for the last time, in the final 80 days of her life, to have met Hsieh, face to face, eye to eye (Hsieh, like Kaidie, is not big, built like an endurance runner), has served as an important breath of life. With that, she carries on with her journeys (Photograph of Kaidie with Hsieh taken by another ‘Kai’, called Kai Nien, [unrelated]).


Cabled-up, taken a deep breath, pink-socked, wobbled, ready to take off, to re-turn, to life, on earth. Thummmmpppppppppppppppppppplunginggggggggggggggggggggfreefalling.................. (tbc)


Is this Kaidie midway in her trans-migration-trans-figuration-trans-formation-trans-configuration-transcendence-transiting-trans-running?


With the Queen's Diamond Jubilee around the corner, Elizabeth is often sighted here and there in one form or another.... and so can Kaidie, who also seems to be around the corner (of this snapshot). If so, Kaidie's proved to be the opportunist once again - having previously died for shots with the Wondrous Grayson Perry and Ken Livingstone. To be continued...