Fringe 2008, Toi Poneke Wgtn Arts Centre
Feb 28-March 1 | Reviewed by Kate Blackhurst

Art From Whoa to Go is like going to a slide show at your favourite eccentric aunt’s. It’s all a bit weird, but her enthusiasm for her subject is infectious, even if you haven’t got a clue what she’s talking about.

Kristelle Plimmer’s one-woman (and laptop) show is billed under the comedy section of the Fringe and is described as a symposium. It is highly clever and intellectual as she renders art concepts, linguistic conceits and philosophical theories in a series of rhyming couplets. It helps to know these theories in advance. If you’re not au fait with such theories as the difference between the signified and signifier or the death of the author, you’re not going to be rolling in the aisle (trust me on this – I speak from experience), although the odd wry chuckle may escape.

The first half, in which she matches philosophical linguistic concepts with artwork, is fairly tedious. She owns that ‘Linguistic theories can be deep and send you all to sleep’ and claims that she is ‘here to translate’. She talks about these philosophers as though they are her personal friends; Georges Bataille ‘really was a treasure’ and Julia Kristeva is ‘a very clever chick’. Perhaps with the amount of research she has done, she has achieved a sense of intimacy, and she is keen to include her audience in this privileged circle.

The evening becomes more interesting in the second half when Plimmer flicks through the ages and the development of art incorporating concepts such as perspective. She refers to this as a ragtag bag of culture and she mocks the artists with gentle deprecation. Thus she mentions illustrated manuscripts as the work of monks who ‘take years to paint a capital letter in praise of a saint’, and refers to priceless mosaics as ‘smashed up tiles made into pictures’. Her maiden-aunt or Sister Wendy routine is most discernable when she refers to Saint Sebastian as being acceptable although he is nude because, ‘he’s wearing a halo so it isn’t rude’.

The most appealing moments come when she touches on the artistic greats, such as Venus de Milo; ‘a hot chicky babe and a goddess to boot; her marble loins have borne artistic fruit’ or Michelangelo’s David; ‘He’s eighteen feet tall; and his hands and his feet don’t fit him at all.’ She then brushes over (apologies for the terrible pun – I told you it was infectious) modern art and all its progressions as ‘the changes came fast; the ‘isms’ came quicker’ which all happened ‘as the paint grew thicker’.

There is a strong academic element to this ‘performance’ – as someone sidles out early Plimmer remonstrates, ‘You’ll miss the quiz!’ In her cat’s eye glasses and academic gown lined with shocking pink lining, Kristelle is like something out of Harry Potter – you can imagine her teaching art to the students at Hogwarts, and she would fit right in with some of the peculiar professors.