THE SHAPESHIFTERS
SUMUGAN SIVANESAN & BRENDAN PHELAN

The Shapeshifters are outsiders, aliens in their host city.

Brendan Phelan and Sumugan Sivanesan act as the principal instigators, but the work that unfolds is as much or more about how their interferences are taken up and developed by the people, the structure an the dynamics of the city.

The unfamiliarity the instigators bring to the site will be used as a tool with which they will examine the illusions that permit, direct or hamper the functions of the city. Some of these will be interrupted, others will be tested and detoured.

They engage in a variety of activities and artistic practices, in order to discover the nature of themselves and the situation that they find themselves in. This series of social experiments will include SMS text exchanges, staged public interruptions, projections and print campaigns, amongst other strategies. During this process they will engage with the city's inhabitants and its machinations in order to probe, provoke and subtly transform, where that seems appropriate.

In this process we refer to and cross-reference myriad sources from contemporary art, popular culture, local history, advertising and current affairs. The aesthetic will vary according to the situation, as it is our intention to create sublime interruptions that can be absorbed and gradually propagate within the general perception of the host city.

Conceptually we are interested in providing alternate readings of our culture and environment. We are particularly interested in ideas that can exist outside of gallery or institutional conditions, that somehow augment, subvert or make us question the rituals of daily life.

An Equal and Opposite Force (excerpt) 2004

An equal and opposite force


Manipulated documentation of a performance experiment that explores (anti)social engagement, archetypes, and role playing within the public sphere.

King St , Newtown (2004)


A scenario of non–simultaneous and only partially overlapping transformative events

Phelan's sporadic appearances are in time to a soundtrack of surfed radio signals, from talkback to the hits of the 70's, 80's and 90's. As exemplified by Phelan, we are thrown around the banal media that is made available to us over the airwaves.

Victoria Park, Chippendale (2004)