I had a chat with one of our performers Tony Osborne, who is performing Roman Ondák’s ‘Swap’ in 13 Rooms.
What’s your background?
I’m an improvisational actor & singer
What’s it been like performing Ondák’s ‘Swap’
It’s a bit like a long tangent that keeps me turning really. What evolves is a two hour long story, and I’m the story teller. Some of it is the story of ‘now’ - our story of the group of people in the room at that moment - and sometimes it’s the story of previous swaps. I tell people stories of past swaps to get them interested in the idea. It’s quite an enjoyable challenge actually, to pull create the story, and then bring the story telling back to swapping.
What are some of most interesting experiences you’ve had in the room?
Well, I might be stealing someone elses story here, but Kirk had a wonderful experience yesterday. Kirk was given a David Malouf book to swap. After a while, a man reluctantly swapped his watch for the book. What he didn’t realise - was that David Malouf was actually in the room - and when the man he picked up the book, David Malouf ended up signing it for him.
What’s one of the most interesting objects you’ve swapped?
This guy swapped a print out of his Masters thesis about sexual racism actually, and a girl called Laura - who’d sat there for an hour - tore off a bit of brown paper, put a lipstick kiss on the paper, and wrote down a phone number (she was adamant that it was not hers though). It was a beautiful looking object actually and it went extremely quickly.
How long does the experience in your room usually last?
People are staying in the room for a very long time – sometimes up to 1 ½ hours. I also had a school group of kids that kept coming back every 10 minutes all morning, trying to swap their dirty socks.
I’m developing quite personal relationships with the audience members. They know my name and I ask everyone their names. Sometimes they just hang back - but mostly they really engage in the situation.
What have you found most interesting about learning to perform the work?
The ‘appropriateness’ is an interesting thing about the work, and is one of the things Roman Ondák stressed to us. It’s not the monetary value that needs to be equal – but sometimes objects have a feeling or history or weight to them.
It’s also interesting that I’m actually performing and not really acting – it’s kind of like a hyper version of me, and I have the responsibility to engage everyone in the room.
We also interviewed our Mirror Check and Luminosity interpreters about what it's like to prepare for and to perform a Marina Abramović and Joan Jonas work. Check out the video below.