So, before I get to it: The security at Creative Sydney was still really off-putting. Rocking up to a venue and being asked: “Where are you going?” is not an inclusive feel. Security at the MCA is on the whole incredibly polite. But having them stand out front is off-putting. And having them step into your way as you come into the building is flat out intimidating.
The only words we had to say to them were “Creative Sydney”. This was not a well-guarded code. Security-wise it didn’t seem to to be the most watertight of procedures.
I’m sure Creative Sydney wants people to wander in off the street. I’m sure the MCA wants people to come back in again after cruising in, hoping for an open gallery. So why do their audiences get treated this way?
Eat It / Kitchen Cook Off
There were big round tables set out around the room, with people spiked around them, cabaret-style. These were all full, so we had to pluck chairs from the bar and drag them over. As we waited, copies of twothousand.com.au‘s zine Eat It got passed around the audience.
We waited for the show to begin.
Cryptic is good. Letting the art speak for itself is good. But this went on a bit long.
Then tuxedo-clad members of the band started wandering round and coalesced into a line-up on stage. Caesar and the Roman Sailors were a strange mix of Beatles-rhythm, beach-band style, punk shouted lyrics and a thumping grunge bass. I liked most of their components, but they didn’t work for me as a whole. (It did work for some of the others with me, though.)
As they finished, a lone dancer in pyjamas jerked onto the dance floor. He walked up onto stage, assumed the role of the evening’s host, and became progressively over-the-top. He was joined by other judges with roller-derby nicknames.
The cook-off itself took place on a central table whose sounds were sampled and loop to create a live soundscape. The slicing and frying was broadcast up onto a big screen up on stage. It was a wonderful blend of thumps and lowercase sound: Knives tapped loud like trains. Taps like a mechanical heart. Tap-tap tap-tap tap-tap!
It was a shame to have the judges up on stage while the main action of the night was stuck on tables deep in the audience. We had the performers so close to us, but couldn’t get a direct look at them.
Behind the chefs two people mixed the sounds with a Mac and a series of loop pedals. From the cutting of the lids and the sizzling of the fish, the show was well-timed and well rehearsed. I liked it. At the end, the over-the-top MC offered us the chance to sample the food. We did.
The fish was firm and gingery.