art about dysfunction

Ruben Guthrie for La Boite Theatre, Brisbane

Brendan Cowell’s play Ruben Guthrie is La Boite’s most recent offering, and in the usual spirit of this edgy theatre company who do so much with their intimate theatre in the round, the play leaves you in an uncomfortable place. The subject is addiction, and it deals with Australia’s relationship with alcohol – its tight embrace and ubiquity in our society, and our widespread head-in-the-sand ignorance of its risks. It reminded me of Liam O’Brien’s new art video, subject (in part) of a recent catalogue essay I wrote for the Queensland Centre for Photography’s October 29 exhibition suite. O’Brien’s video is called I’m Too Drunk to Tell You.

Liam O'Brien, "I'm Too Drunk to Tell You", 2011, at QCP, 29 October to 27 November 2011.

Both the play and the video shine a torch into the dark underbelly of our problematic interaction with alcohol, to reveal the self-harm in this, usually glamorously portrayed, relationship. As protagonist Ruben Guthrie asks toward the end of Brendan Cowell’s play, “Why?” I don’t know either, but as both these works acknowledge, alcohol may be almost impossible to resist.

The catalogue essay for the QCP exhibitions 29 October to 29 November 2011 is available here QCP catalogue Oct 2011, and photography by Rebecca Dagnall, Christopher Köller, Zev Jonas, Dara Kretschmer and Hannah Millerick accompany the video by Liam O’Brien.