Barbara Campbell

Whilst archiving material from the Attitude Film & Video Event I was reminded of how many times I have worked with the artist, performer and writer Barbara Campbell. Apart from taking the 'Eating Disorder' photo for Barbara's 27-year photo-postcard series; I've contributed stories to her 1001 net cast project; written and presented a speculative fiction for the Occupied Zones conference at her invitation; and even recorded a narration for her film about Marie Antoinette.

In turn, Barbara produced Image-text collaboration #2 for Attitude  with Virginia Hilyard. And  three of her images from The Diamond Necklace Affair performance  were part of the Sydney: Resort of Thieves exhibition   at State Records Gallery. ​​ Here's looking at you Kid! / Susan
The Portrait Group, 2011 taken by Anne Ferran assisted  by Ruby Davies
'On the occasion of Barbara Campbell's 50th birthday, the women who had photographed her for her annual postcard series posed for this group portrait at Clifton School of Arts, NSW'

When I say I 'took' this photo, what I really mean is that Barbara Campbell conceived of, stage managed and directed the entire photo shoot, including the body paint which gives her skin that beautiful sheen. I just clicked the camera. I remember a studio apartment, fish tales and octopus tentacles, and not feeling very well on the day. Always loved the result though and proud to be one of the women invited to be part of this 27-year collective project.

Story #508 Adapted for performance by Barbara Campbell from a story by Susan Charlton

Get O ut of Town
Drive 25 clicks faster than the speed limit.
Beep your horn at old ladies juggling their shopping and zimmer frames.
Text your friends back in the city with one hand on the steering wheel.
Weave across three lanes of freeway without indicating.
Yell at fat girls in school uniforms in small towns.
Throw leftover pizza at stop signs.
Nick some smokes from the servo when you're paying for petrol.
Turn off Triple J and put on Fiddy Cents.
Burn rubber at the turn-off to the coast.
Leave dead butts in the hot sand.
Drive up and down the main street checking out the hippy chicks.
Pull into Woolies carpark and buy some six packs.
Dump your gear at the motel.
Meet up with your mates at the Beach Hotel.
Start a mosh pit and head bang to Wolfmother.
Put your tongue down a couple of girls' throats.
Buy a kebab outside the Great Northern.
Get into a fight with a sunburnt Brit.
Piss into a beer can and throw it at a tree.
Wake up covered in vomit on Belongil Beach.

Get Out of Town
Ask your assistant to drive you to the airport.
Make a final call to the office as you're checking in.
Purchase some extra lingerie at the boutique.
Take a quick shower and slip into resort wear in the members' lounge.
Peek at Who Weekly, but buy Marie Claire at the newsagents.

Sigh loudly and look at your watch when the flight is delayed.
Position your bags so no-one else can sit near you.
Frown at people with children.
Get up again and ask the girl at the counter when the plane is due in.
Have a 40-second mobile conversation with your mother.
Keep your sunglasses on as you enter the cabin.
Take five minutes to get settled.
Order a vodka, lime and soda and put your eye pads on.
Dribble on yourself a little in your sleep.
Wake up as you knock the vodka into your lap.
Ignore the knowing smile of the guy in the Mambo shirt next to you.
Acknowledge the driver with the Ms Chambers
 sign at the airport.
Feel your breathing slow as the warm breeze flows through the limousine window.
Take a stroll up the main street in your Versace sandals after dinner.
Wake up next morning in the bed of Mambo guy at Raes on Watego.

Get Out of Town
Stash your backpack into the luggage hold.
Squeeze yourself into your seat alongside the obese man with alcohol on his breath.
Make your physical body as small as it can be, without diminishing your soul body.
Rid yourself of the city as the bus heads north.
Ignore the drone of the inhouse movie by doing a simple meditation.
Turn on the overhead light and draw in your diary as the others lapse into sleep.
Look out into the dark land hurtling by and feel grateful to the original owners.
Do a few stretches at the rest stop and a self-shiatsu.
Eat some of your fruit while everyone else does the chicken & chips.
Take a small sip of diet Coke and throw the rest in the bin.
Curl up in both seats when the big man gets off at Port Macquarie.
Smile at the small child staring across the aisle at you in the arms of his mother.
Drift in and out of sleep.
Emerge into the morning light at the Main Street bus stop.
Head to the ashram in the mini bus.
Join everyone for the welcoming ceremony.
Settle on your yoga mat, three rows back from the teacher.
Shake the last vestiges of city life from your body, mind and soul.
Call upon the light, open to the light, be the light.
Awaken at sunrise with a detox headache.

Get Out of Town
Throw a few last-minute personal things into the spare room.
Close the door firmly with a padlock and key.
Double check the other rooms and pull the plantation blinds.
Place the page of instructions in the centre of the kitchen table and water the plants.
Take a last look around and deadlock the front door.
Turn off the water feature and head down the deck stairs.
Halfway down the driveway, race back to get your passport.
Wave to Sunbeam as she skateboards to the beach with her surfboard under her arm.
Leave the keys with the real estate agent and head out of town.
Pass the Great Northern and a few young drunks asleep on the footpath.
Pass the buses disgorging a new batch of innocents at their doorstep.
Pass a woman walking down the centre of the road with a pair of sandals in her hand.
Feel glad to be leaving before Schoolies Week kicks in.
Pick up speed just outside Ewingsdale and head toward the highway.
Ignore three ferals hitching on the side of the road.
Cruise into Coolangatta with time to spare.
Indulge in the pleasure of being served the vegetarian meal before everyone else.
Don't mind watching The Office reruns one little bit.
Go over the rental income one more time before breathing easy.
Wake up next morning with a view of Sacre Couer and the cold rush of falling snow.

About 1001 Nights

In her durational performance, 1001 nights cast, Barbara Campbell cast a story into the ether every night for 1001 nights from 21 June 2005 to 17 March 2008. Each story had been written for her during the day by a pool of (by the end) 243 writers scattered across the globe. With only a few hours to write and a limit of 1001 words, each writer was responding to a writing prompt Campbell had extracted from one of that day’s newspaper stories about events in the Middle East.

At sunset (according to Campbell’s location), she opened the live webstream on the 1001 nights cast website and told the new story to unseen audiences in unknown locations. ​The stories, as spoken, could only be witnessed in real time, but in text form, they remain on the website as ghosts of their one-time voicing.

Story #629

Story #166

Story #839

All adapted for performance by Barbara Campbell from stories written  by Susan Charlton

Reproduced from Vital Signs  #3 ,
Edited by Susan Charlton, published by State Records NSW

Image-text collaboration #2
​Barbara Campbell & Virginia Hilyard
 ​Attitude Film & Video Event, 1989
Directed by Susan Charlton 

Download PDF to  read
Mimi and Marie text
​Written by Barbara Campbell
Image-text collaboration #2

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