The star event of the new-look Artrage Festival 2002 in Perth was Hotel 6151, transforming an opportunity of pre-demolition free access to the site of the Rhodes Hotel into a one night only All Hallows event on 1 November. Coordinated by Christian de Vietri, Ben Riding and Heather Webb and featuring the work of nearly 50 participating artists (both local, interstate and international), Hotel 6151 offered a saturated maze of discovery for its viewers, with six floors of rooms providing for a dense multi-layering of interactional art experiences. With many clever spatial interventions insinuating themselves unframed on the given space to create the fictional Hotel, the whole environment became electrified with potential for unexpected engagements for the investigations of the viewer. From raw to refined, the extensive scale of the project and the constant slippage between the remnants of the 'real' and the artfully superimposed came together to realise Hotel 6151 as one of the most superb installation projects that Perth audiences have inhabited recently (a huge and excited crowd of approximately 2500 attending).
We initially arrive to be ushered in by smartly customized Hotel 6151 doormen before being required to register as 'guests' (Tom Muller - Switzerland) before the myriad of rooms unfold into progressive experiences in the flow of the night.
To mention only a few & room 11's peephole oasis view, finely executed palm trees & deck-chair fashioned from site-scrounged materials (Simon Pericich – Aust)... room 14's complex paperboard geometric structures suggesting abstracted, impossible convolutions of space wherein minute figures are dwarfed by their architectural geometries (Joshua Webb - Aust)... room 15 finds Eve and her companion from SSS Cleaning Services slowly cleaning the detritus of the previously habited room (Ben Riding & Christian de Vietri)... room 24 forested with multiple Acro-prop ceiling supports, with the word TAMPA reversed and chiselled into the wall and the repeated stencil motif 'pan-pan' around the room (a code word one degree past 'may-day' which signals tragedy is already occurring - Mathew Hunt - Aust)... room 22 presents a series of stuffed animals – drinking kangaroo, monkey with microphone, seal with dustmask and pelican dangling its cigarette ash into a choked ashtray – mostly arranged onto the room's twin beds watching a television featuring a pixellated image of a cat's head superimposed on white-noise TV 'snow' (Bennett Miller- Aust)... the next room steps through the back of a wardrobe into labyrinthine narrow corridors lined with clothes, with an acrylic panel separating a half-room of viewers from another half where 'guests' and bodies struggle into and around on the floor's strewn sea of clothes, oblivious to the separation game of viewer and viewed. (Tess McNamara & Monique Powell - Aust)... room 40's cold haze within emptied room, where from within a false-wall panel of acrylic mirror a jetted plume of smoke hisses intermittently into the generic hotel room blankness and hangs before slowly dispersing (Sedon Pepper - Aust)... the debris of room 41 littered with remnants of wedding cake, wine glasses and torn pillows while a series of warped honeymoon slides scroll on the wall as a figure in soiled wedding finery singing along and cursing presents a Miss Haversham fiction of soured romance punctuated by the odd smashing plate &room 54's hilariously jerking and thrusting automatic bed that rhythmically conjures the creaking spring cliches of hotel lovemaking in its droll and automated eroticism (Christian de Vietri)...and a 'free psychoarchitectural tour' where a singing Russki diva panders melodrama to the gathered crowd, salaciously revealing a dance of desire between sailor and whore to the accompaniment of a one-eyed accordionist (Thea Constantino - Aust)... Downstairs on ground level, the games room features a set of altered dart boards (Bruce Slatter – Aust) framed by engaging video-work of classic pool tricks and competition darts (AVTV- Aust)& the swimming pool appears black, funereally inked out for the occasion (Gary Wiseman-Aust).
The extensive and sustained explorations of Hotel 6151 created a rewarding network of transactions between the space of the Hotel and its 'guests', and generated a sense of play which exploited the slippages between art fictions and the latent space itself (including some rock-star-room-trashing-shenanigans from overenthusiastic 'guests'). To the huge credit of all who participated in this project, Hotel 6151 manifested as a landmark art event that not only defined itself as a centrepiece of the Artrage festival, but will endure in the memories of a crowd that came seeking art adventure as something beyond their wilder expectations.