The story of Australian underworld figure Sally Anne Huckstep’found dead in a pond in a city park – was the inspiration for Hannah Furmage’s Scoring Dope For Sally. Furmage lay fully submerged in a fishtank full of live eels for 7 hours, wearing high heels, a long blonde wig and breathing through an aqualung. The underwater sounds were sampled and manipulated live by sound artist Wade Marynowsky, with bubbles breaking down to static and a melodic drone that always seemed to suggest something very, very bad was about to happen. The image suceeded in creating a lingering anxiety. The knowledge that the physical act was incredibly uncomfortable created a keyhole of pathos into the image and the story itself’an empathetic unease. The gently floating body, tendrils of hair mingling with the lithe eels and autumn leaves seemed bizarrely peaceful in contrast to the implied violence. The resonances of the aquarium setup piqued a disturbing sense of voyerusim.
At what point do famous stories and images become public property” Sally Huckstep’s family objected to the unauthorised use of Sally’s story. But, sympathy for the family aside, how can you stop part of a city’s collective imaginings being used as impetus for an artwork” The threat of legal action proved toothless and the performance went on, complete with rottweiler and bouncer on the door enhancing the underworld feel’a fine example of durational performance in which the effect of the imagery itself was as strong as the shock tactic of the performative mode.