Monday, 3 October 2011


[The Acrobat walked a tightrope between reality and non-reality - he worked/did not work – had money/no money - dressed in red on grey – red for anarchy/grey for bureaucracy. The life of Acrobat was brief – months rather than years – and is marked by his passport which acts as a record of his performances which he called Modi – Modus Peregrinus, Modus Bureaucraticus, Modus Anniversarius. He was born in Dundee and died in Kassel in Germany where his final Modus took place.
Modus Bureaucraticus was installed as part of The Nuclear Issue – an exhibition in McManus Galleries, Dundee from September to October 1982. Acrobat’s contribution to the theme was in two parts – the first being a wall-mounted A4 poster – Conversations With A Bear – beside a small black & white tv monitor which either broadcast what was happening in The Bureau or a static image of a teddy bear. There was no soundtrack – a sense of secrecy prevailed. The only way to know what went on in The Bureau was to fill in an appointment card to attend a video recorded interview on the Nuclear Issue. The second part, therefore, occurred behind closed doors. The parallel with the type of state bureaucracies that perpetuated the Cold War was obvious.
The entire documentation of Acrobat - including his passport, briefcase, clothes and Doc Martens - is now archived in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.]
3 of the items referred to in the Acrobat lowdown are displayed above.
In the case of the passport - Pete did go through the proper legal process to successfully (and fraudulently) get his Acrobat passport.
His occupation was artist, of course, but somehow he managed to somersault his way through "the system"!
And those of you who can read semaphore will be able to read what he's spelling out.
You can hear the man himself on this recording below, which he made during his Acrobat period in 1982. A wicked piece of sinister post punk circus music that is as unsettling as it is wondrous!
Courtesy of The Attic Archive.

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