One of the earliest and most ambitious performance pieces to be staged in New Zealand was Bruce Barber's 'Mt Eden crater performance', 1973, pictured here, which he conceived and directed, but which was executed as a collaborative project involving performers, documenters and passers-by. Central to the project was the Blind Master, a hooded figure who negotiated the slopes of the Mt Eden volcanic crater blindfolded, which made his actions difficult, clumsy and sometimes dangerous, and interacted with other people positioned around the crater rim. He had the assistance of a guide, and the performance, which was filmed, involved drumming and the reading of phrases by individuals representing the disciplines of sculpture, cooking, medicine and anthropology. Through the work, Barber wanted to leave the sanctity of the art gallery and interact with life in the public sphere. He explained, 'In the act of overloading or the deprivation of sensory (physical) and intellectual experience, I am thereby enlarging my own and others capacity for sensory and intellectual experience.'
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Photograph by Bryony Dalefield
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Courtesy of Bruce Barber
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