Jane Venis and Hannah Joynt have added a new focus to their collaborative arts practice.

Until Jane and Hannah took part in the Buinho Arts Residency in Portugal in 2019 their performance and video practice centred on their drawing and music collaboration. However, once they started their residency in the traditional village of Messejana, they visited the local bullfighting ring which evoked a strong reaction for them both and inspired the development of the short film Flag Plant. This work was selected for The Bomb factory Artists’ Film Festival in London and shown in June this year. Jane Venis describes what happened in the bull ring:

"We saw the absolute absurdity of being in this particular place as aliens. We had the opportunity to respond to the activity of bullfighting with a tiny gesture of peace, but we were also very aware that we were in somebody else’s cultural space. I enjoyed the way we responded with our bodies in the culturally charged site. I responded with my instruments as Hannah undertook the futile ritual of planting olive branches into the parched ground in the arena."

Jane and Hannah share a strong sense of the absurd, seeing humour in the tension between the enormous issues we face as a planet and the tiny initiatives that individuals are able to take in response. Under the production name of Small Measures, they describe their films as “providing site-specific responses to first world guilt.”

In their second collaborative short film, Spoon, they undertake a journey to deliver a teaspoon of water taken from the beach at St Clair in Dunedin to the Dubai desert, ostensibly to counter sea-level rise locally. Spoon gently mocks the little that we can do individually to respond to the problem of climate change, while acknowledging that small steps are needed, because cumulatively they can and do make a difference. Spoon was shown as part of The Complete Entanglement of Everything exhibition at The Dunedin School of Art Gallery late last year. 

December 2021

Image credit: Still image from film Flag Plant by Jane Venis and Hannah Joynt, photography by Maria Lusquiños Torres. All rights reserved.