David Cross is a Melbourne-based artist. His work includes performance, installation, sculpture, public art and video, and he often utilises inflatable structures to negotiate inter-personal exchange.
David Cross’s work Red Stroll is a type of performance event that takes place between two collaborators, each inside an inflatable sculpture, both transparent, but one with a red-tinted lining. At first, these appear as protective devices, offering a space that is literally safe since the inflatable acts as a protective barrier and provides a padded layer that would absorb the impact of a tumble. Cross sets up some rules for the performance. On the outward journey from the gallery, the person in the transparent pod is instructed to follow where the other—who sees the world with a rosy tint—leads. Ideally, the two should be strangers to one another. The pods are swapped and the roles are then reversed half-way through the performance so that the follower becomes the leader for the walk back to the gallery. Each of the wearers must place trust in the other without knowing whether the trust is merited. This creates a situation of mild risk as there is just the slightest likelihood that the follower will be led into danger. But the risk is more symbolic than actual, and there have hitherto been no reports of a squashed pod-person on any busy dual-carriageway. The pods compromise the wearer’s safety in other ways, though, because they impose physical clumsiness and impede the wearer’s vision. Ensconced in the pods, it’s hard to move and hard to see. Which is ironic, because the wearers themselves achieve the highest visibility possible; they become spectacles for others as they parade themselves in public. So, these pods and their elaborate ritualised performance represent a trade-off between protection and risk, interiority and exteriority, privacy and exposure.
Christine Toussainte Morrow