Kebaya – Back Ground
Video performance installation
Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
Includes video: 7 Women, 51 Kebayas

“The work was about memory, women – an installation, performance and video.  The space was beautifully arranged as for a ritual.  The dressing and undressing reminded me of time unfolding – every the women change, first one colour than another.  There was an ironic humour in putting on too many garments, how many does one need?  Why so many clothes? Changes?  The clothes were beautiful ceremonial tops – see-through, sexy, suggestive.  But is this the intention – do the wearers become brides of their gods? Or are they aware of how attractive they look?  The work is about a specific anthropology.  Victoria’s performance is reverent, understated; showing extraordinary respect for this culture which is not hers.

But one feels she wants to make a comment as a Western woman.  Is the irony in the fact that these women do not have apparent freedom, that they appear to be led blindly by their ceremonies into a world of suppression and submission?  All of these questions arise as we get taken in by the power of this most seductive piece.  The television in the centre shows footage of women dressing and undressing, but they are faceless, headless.  Is this a direct reference to the fact that they are not treated as individuals, personalities, with a unique voice of their own?  It is sensitive and definitely a woman’s piece; the easy unfolding time, the quiet statements, the generosity and sensuousness of the movement creates a feeling of introspection.  This leads one to think beyond what is presented, rather to enter into one’s own thoughts, one’s own narrative.  It was this openness, this recognition that each one of us is an artist, and can interpret and finish this piece for oneself, that was exciting.

The small drawings/designs/marks left after the garments are removed, indicate Victoria’s painterly background.  But this is not just a painter performing.  This is an artist who is prepared to take full responsibility in every action, every statement she makes.  It’s a responsible work, which resonates with humankind from anywhere in the world.  This work I believe has taken a long time to develop, and the concept is so powerful, that I can see future work developing from this.

Victoria’s work is international inform, content and representation.  This is truly an intercultural artist prepared to feed off other cultures, and draw them together into her own mature and well developed performances.

The result is poetic, episodic, powerful, quiet with a great deal of dignity.  Victoria has a great deal to offer in the field of intercultural performance.”

Text by Irish-born performance artist and academic Jim Hughes in response to seeing the work. [April 2001]

This work was presented at Shul – International Art Collaboration, Sika Contemporary Art Gallery, Bali, Indonesia