Sandy Gibbs

Title: Recalling Tui
Year:     2016
Length: 10:01
Format: Single-channel video
Credits: Director/performer: Sandy Gibbs
I called Tui on the phone – I nervously introduced myself; I should have been more alert to her hesitancy. I asked if I could talk to her about her experiences swimming at the 1968 Mexico Olympics. But she firmly said “No” – actually what she said was “I don’t do that sort of thing.” I tried my hardest to keep her on the line, but then she was gone. I didn’t even get to mention restaging the race. My heart was thumping hard when I put down the phone. In that awful moment of utter and dismal failure, I gained my first startled glimpse into the depths of precariousness that underscored this project, and I knew that this meant trouble with a capital T. It was unravelling right before it even got started. Enter ‘contingencies

Later, I kicked myself that I hadn’t documented the phone call. But given it had been such a brief encounter, I felt sure I could remember it word for word. Easy, I thought, as I set up a video camera a couple of months later in my lounge. I didn’t worry too much about the busy traffic noise outside, or fussing over the framing or the focus – I simply sat down in front of the camera and started recalling the conversation. Except that I couldn’t. Recall it, that is. Suddenly it was gone, as absent and elusive as Tui had been. I made a start, thinking it might take me three or four goes to properly recall the conversation so I kept the camera rolling. Instead, it took shape as a single 10-minute video made up of repetitions, half-started and unfinished sentences, pauses and some really awkward silences.

An unexpected outcome of this experience was the degree to which the attempt to recall an otherwise mundane phone conversation activated what could be described as an uncomfortably dark humour that exploits uncertainty; a human earnestness at once both comic and despairing that becomes more and more painful and embarrassing as I stumble through endless repetitions. Recalling Tui is framed by and references the original phone call but is subverted through a strategy of displacement – in this case, a configuration of anxiety and humour – that first locates the familiar, and then makes it strange.

Title: Lighting an old flame
Year:     2016
Length: 2:24
Format: Single-channel video
Credits: Director/performer: Sandy Gibbs
Drone camera operators: Alex Paterson and Isaac Paterson at SkyzoneNZ
Camera: Chris Williams
Costume: Clare Weterings
Voiceover: Excerpt from Olímpiada en México (dir. Alberto Isaac)

The 1968 Mexico Olympics was the first time that the Olympic flame was lit by a woman. Beautifully captured in Alberto Isaac’s documentary, the young Mexican hurdler Norma Enriqueta Basilio runs into the stadium with the Olympic flame, completes a lap and then – effortlessly – she bounds up a long flight of steps to the very top of the stadium where she symbolically lights the cauldron. This was the signal for the start of the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games

I resolved to restage this moment in suburban Wellington. I scouted around for a suitable site, finally opting for a long flight of steps that stretch up from Lyall Bay, a southern beachside suburb of the city. A friend sewed a white running outfit to match the one worn by Basilio. I made an Olympic flame out of coloured cardboard, and a fake cauldron from heavy card that I spray-painted metallic silver. I bought half a dozen helium-filled balloons from a party supply shop (six was the most that would squash into the back of my old Beetle), and I hired a couple of camera guys with a drone. Heads popped up over the neighbouring fences and kids turned up to watch the drone taking off and landing. At first, they thought I was a real estate agent. “What are you doing?” they asked. “It’s art,” I said. Suddenly they looked at me differently.

The end result is Lighting an old flame, an amateur theatrical performance: a deliberate attempt at activating a humorous register and playing out a fantasy – this time in a public performance to counter the perceived dichotomy of invisibility/hyper visibility facing the ageing woman. In this work, I examine humour, parody and the otherness of the ageing female body as a social construct and cultural condition. The whole thing is precarious and amateurish – but in its complete absurdity, it portrays a total and optimistic belief in the fantasy of an ageing woman who never stopped dreaming of making it to the Olympics. And who is determined to play it out.

Title: The swimmer and the spy
Year:     2017
Length: 2:22
Format: Single-channel video
Credits: Director/performer: Sandy Gibbs
Video: Chris Williams

In my quest to track down the other swimmers from 1968, nowhere could I find any trace of the two former-East German swimmers, Marianne Seydel and Sabine Steinbach. Drawing upon conceptual art strategies in part inspired by artists Sophie Calle and Vito Acconci, I hired a German private eye in a failed attempt to locate them and hopefully to connect us. However, although he was successful, under German privacy laws he was unable to give me their details, and neither of the two women opted to make contact with me. Instead, this culminated in my visit to the swimming pool in Chemnitz, Germany, where Marianne Seydel and Sabine Steinbach trained for the 1968 Olympics under the watchful eye of their Stasi coaches. Vicariously inserting myself into their stories, I swam in this pool with a heightened awareness of the biopolitics, power and ideologies that still permeate the space.

Title:How to wear a disguise
Year:     2017
Length: 2:52
Format: Single-channel video
Credits: Director/performer/video editor: Sandy Gibbs
Camera: Chris Williams
Soundtrack: The Boss Henry Mancini            
Costumes hired from Costume Cave, Wellington

Before we left Germany, we paid a visit to the Stasi Museum in Berlin. There, I was transfixed by an exhibition of sinister spycraft memorabilia of Stasi agents being taught how to wear disguises, how to put on wigs and false moustaches, how to disguise themselves as Western tourists. A bit like kids playing at dress-up but, absurdly, these were grown-ups and what they were doing was very unfunny. It was all a bit sinister and creepy, this motley collection of very ordinary-looking people trained to spy on their own.

The tragicomic, according to theatre scholar John Orr, is “short, frail, explosive and bewildering. It balances comic repetition against tragic downfall. It demonstrates the coexistence of amusement and pity, terror and laughter.”[1] Likewise, How to wear a disguise is an attempt at using humour to draw out the tragicomic side of biopolitics and of East Germany’s forty-year Stasi regime – also short, tragic and terrifying. I had been – in equal measure – appalled, weirdly amused and fascinated by the stark evidence of the exhibits. But also, I was intrigued by the photographs of the spies, ordinary citizens who were recruited by the Stasi to inform on their families, friends and colleagues. In How to wear a disguise I set out to explore these politicised double lives through a tragicomic lens, playing with tensions oscillating between the photos and the videoed performance, improvising actions and gestures imagined from the Stasi photos.

[1] John Orr, Tragicomedy and Contemporary Culture: Pity and Performance from Beckett to Shepard (Basingstoke & London: MacMillan, 1991), 1.

Title:Space-Girl Dance
Year:     2018
Length: 1:42
Format: Single-channel video
Credits: Director/performer: Sandy Gibbs
Camera: Katri Walker
Support crew: Hardy Martinez Léon, Chris Williams
Video editor: Ro Tierney
Soundtrack from the original Space-Girl Dance (1970) featuring Raquel Welch
Shot on location in Mexico City

In 1970, actress Raquel Welch starred in a video in which she, a space-age Barbarella flanked by two silver-suited males, danced and gyrated in front of a collection of huge concrete modernist sculptures that had been commissioned for the 1968 Olympics. Almost fifty years later, on a very hot day in Mexico City, I squeezed myself into a tight-fitting metallic silver bodysuit and we went hunting for those very sculptures. I was on my way to restage Raquel Welch’s Space-Girl Dance.

One small hitch: I can’t dance. I had managed a quick half-hour lesson two days before we left New Zealand, a lesson in which I was irrefutably outdanced by a five-year-old. But nothing had quite prepared me for the mess I’d got myself into this time. This struck me with considerable force as I lurched across a crazy Mexico City highway in my silver suit. And it was really hot. By the time I hauled myself up to the solid blue mass of Willi Gutmann’s El Ancla, I was already turning a sweaty pink. On top of that, I knew that there was no way I was going to remember any of my hastily learnt dance steps. Skidding and stumbling over a thick bed of loose lava rocks, I had no choice: I had to wing it. Strutting my stuff in full view of the passing traffic, I discovered the power of a tight silver bodysuit – even one worn by an older woman. Mexican men kept tooting their car horns as they sped past, and I swear the gap between Raquel and me got a whole lot smaller. I could feel the stardom.

A distinctive flavour of parody is prefaced in Space-Girl Dance to the point of tipping my performance over into the ridiculous. In Space-Girl Dance, parody lies in the process of recontextualising the differences between the dancers and the modernist sculptures. Raquel, the 60s sex symbol resplendent in her futuristic bikini, is replaced by a 60-year-old woman in a silver suit who can’t dance. And the monumental concrete sculptures, once the epitome of 1968 phallic modernism, have shifted from being powerful symbols of heroic masculinity into anachronistic obsolescence with their dilapidated peeling paint and crumbling concrete. In the original, flanked by two supporting male dancers, Raquel dances in and around the sculptures – a centrefold girl performing and reinforcing 60s masculine so-called norms and expectations. In her revealing space-age outfit, Raquel affirms this relationship as she moves, gyrates and dances in and around the sculptures. By contrast, the restaged Space-Girl Dance inverts the relationship: this time, the dancer is an irreverent older woman, the ‘other,’ flexing her ageing muscles in front of these equally ageing patriarchal relics, their status also now questionable in context. As such, the “resulting oscillation between similarity and difference”[1] creates a new, disruptive space of incongruity. Humour is generated in the restaged Space-Girl Dance as an outcome of using parody as a tool; and the level of incongruity in turn, like a volume control, dictates the variant levels of humorous ridiculousness that oscillate throughout the work.

 [1] Dan Harries, Film Parody (London: British Film Institute, 2000), 6.

Title:Stadium walk (opening ceremony)
Year:     2018
Length: 2:18
Format: Single-channel video
Credits: Director/performer: Sandy GibbsCamera: Katri Walker, Claudia Becerril
Producer: Cata Bojacá
Support crew: Chris Williams
Costume: Sandy Gibbs
Milliner: Liza Foreman
Video editor: Ro Tierney
Sound recording: Carlos Fernandez and Uriel Duran, Yellow Tree Studios
Shot on location at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México UNAM, Mexico City.
Thanks to Dirección General del Patrimonio of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México UNAM, and the Estadio Olímpico Universitario team, Juan José Ugalde García, Manager and Sergio Juárez, our guide.

“Is there anyone who has not, at least once, walked into a room and ‘felt the atmosphere’?” So Teresa Brennan challenges her readers, arguing that the transmission of affect is not only social and psychological but is also responsible for physical and biological changes.[1] Scholar Sarah Ahmed refers to emotion as visceral, or sticky, assigning it bodiliness,[2] and there was no doubt – throughout my entire body, I could sense a powerful atmosphere in the stadium.

Facing the camera, exposed, brutally honest, in my self-awareness I am transfixed by these close-ups: by my facial gestures, my attempts to smile, trying hard not to cry, a denial of vulnerability, and then finally – losing the battle – I cry. Caught off guard, I’m embarrassed that I look so very old, and I’m embarrassed by my exposure, my failure to control my emotions. My tears are real, however I am not sad. Instead, my display of emotion is poised on a cusp between pathos and absurdity, for written on my face is also the tearful delight and relief of finally fulfilling my fantasy of making it to the Olympics – albeit too late, too old, too past-it, but buoyed by my enduring and optimistic belief in the fantasy. “Traversing the fantasy,” in the words of Žižek, “[is to] fully identify oneself with the fantasy, to bring the fantasy out.”[3] In other words, an escape from the real is an embrace of the artifice and the inauthentic through collapsing the real into the fantasy. Here, the enclosed space of the stadium is complicit, designating its interiority as an ‘other’ kind of space, as Steven Connor observed: “Anything can happen in a space like this.”[4] Indeed, something magical had happened – in the inauthentic and ‘exceptional space’ of the stadium and this restaged opening ceremony, for a brief moment I lived my fantasy and my experience in the expanse of the stadium was profoundly moving.

[1] Teresa Brennan, The Transmission of Affect (Ithaca, NY & London: Cornell University Press, 2004), 1.

[2] Sara Ahmed, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), 89–90.

[3] Slavoj Žižek, Event: Philosophy in Transit (London: Penguin Books, 2014), 29.

[4] Steven Connor, “Playgrounds: The Arenas of Game,” Bartlett School of Architecture International Lecture

Series, 2008; 7, http://stevenconnor.com/playgrounds/playgrounds.pdf

Title:The swimming race (Mexico City)
Year:     2018
Length: 4:10
Format: Single-channel video
Credits: Performers/swimmers (in lane order):
Norma Angelica Pérez
María de Los Ángeles Limonchi
Rocío Alcaraz Ugalde
Mercedes del Castillo Velazco
María de la Luz Flores
María del Rosario Villanueva
Irma Guadalupe del Rio Valdivia
Sandy Gibbs
Camera crew: Katri Walker (director of photography)
María José Secco
Paulina del Paso
Claudia Becerril
Producer: Catalina Bojacá
Starter judge: Abdón Diaz Aparicio
Support crew: Chris Williams
Swimming costume design, fabric printing and making: Ramon Figueroa and Ana Rios, Warehouse
Sound recording: Carlos Fernandez and Uriel Duran, Yellow Tree Studios
Video editor: Ro Tierney

Thanks to the Alberca Olímpica Francisco Marquez team for all the support:

Angel Erick Santiago Hernández, Director del Deporte

Ivette Reyes and Jesús Alejandro Cruz

Shot on location at Alberca Olímpica Francisco Marquez, Mexico City

By substituting the youthful swimmers of 1968 with aged female counterparts fifty years later, this work is a direct engagement with the ageing female body and a riposte to the double standard of ageing that Susan Sontag identified in relation to older women: “The idea of an old woman in a bathing suit being attractive, or even just acceptable looking, is inconceivable.”[1] Through Bergson, time is considered as both race time and lived time, and as the visible manifestation of time inscribed on the swimmers’ bodies – or, to borrow from Adrian Heathfield, as a kind of “durational aesthetic”.[2]

The act of setting up the swimming race had thrust me into a situation that required ceding a certain amount of authorial control and autonomy. Tracing a particular lineage through the conventions of performance art, Claire Bishop coined the term ‘delegated performance’ to describe “the act of hiring non-professionals … to undertake the job of being present and performing at a particular time and place on behalf of the artist, and following his or her instructions.”[3] This, however, does not take into account the presence of the artist – me – also ‘undertaking and performing’ in the same artwork at the same time, and being as much a ‘non-professional’ as the other performers/competitors. Our ages were similar, and we were all older female swimmers together, but I really had no idea of their swimming abilities or even, indeed, if they would turn up on race day. I had handed over control. Doing so, and delegating performance to others, underlines the inherent risk, uncertainty and ever-present potential for failure that lies at the heart of this restaging project. As a counter to Bishop’s claim that delegated performers provide the artist with “a guarantee of authenticity,”[4] I argue instead that having to cede authorial control within The swimming project, in that it utilised a specific restaging methodology with no pre-determined outcome, contributed to the creation of an ‘inauthentic’ – and therefore new and different – swimming race. For instance, once we hit the water, the race itself was not directed or scripted, the outcome was premised purely upon the swimmers’ abilities, and I had one rule: to swim the race only once. “Just like at the Olympics. No second goes, no reshoots. What happens, happens.”

My failure to enlist any of the original swimmers from 1968 transformed the event as, predicated upon the thrall of an unknown outcome and through the methodology of restaging, the unplanned produced a new and different result. For, while The swimming project set out to restage an historic event, it deliberately sought to respond to and retain the thrall of an unknown outcome. Buoyed with uncertainty and precariousness, the project re-introduced the elements of chance and risk of personal failure for each of the competitors – and for me as the artist as well. In this, The swimming project repositioned itself within the field of artistic restaging with a different method of making, one that was open ended, unrehearsed and without a pre-determined outcome.

[1] Susan Sontag, “The Double Standard of Aging,” The Saturday Review, September 23, 1972.

[2] Adrian Heathfield, “Thought of Duration,” in Time, ed. Amelia Groom (London: Whitechapel Gallery, 2013), 98.

[3] Claire Bishop, “Delegated Performance: Outsourcing Authenticity,” October 140 (Spring 2012): 91.

[4] Bishop, “Delegated Performance,” 110.

Gibbs is a Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington-based artist and has recently completed her PhD at Deakin University, Melbourne. Her research project, The paradox of failure: sport, competition and contemporary art, charted a failed attempt to restage the women’s 400 metres individual medley swimming final from the 1968 Mexico Olympics. Her childhood hero Tui Shipston had come seventh in this race in 1968 – in an absurd but romantic quest, Gibbs set out to locate and enlist the eight original swimmers from the 1968 final and, in doing so, to offer Tui the chance to win gold this time.

Through the production of a series of video artworks, this research project expands upon and redefines the video-art methodology of restaging as a progenitor of newness and difference. Located within a framework of failure, sport and art, the works challenge the outsider status and invisibility of the ageing female athletic body. Through self-reflexive performances in which Gibbs restages a series of ‘events’ connected through the research to the 1968 Mexico Olympics, she takes on the role of the ageing woman – in doing so, Gibbs critically examines notions of failure, fantasy and inauthenticity, activating different registers of humour, emotion, optimism and precariousness – culminating in the final denouement in Mexico City.

Gibbs has shown work in multiple group exhibitions and public screenings. The paradox of failure: sport, competition and contemporary art was exhibited at RM Gallery and Project Space in 2021. In 2018, How to wear a disguise was shown at Video Contemporary at Sydney ContemporaryLighting an old flame was shown at Mason’s Screen, Wellington (2018), and was also included in the ‘Art and Performance by Research’ exhibition, Deakin University (2017). Private Investigations was a joint show with Mike Ting at Meanwhile Gallery, Wellington (2017).

Gibbs graduated from Massey University in Wellington with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (First Class Honours) in 2004, a Master of Fine Arts (With Distinction) in 2012, and gained her PhD from Deakin University in Melbourne in 2021.

Thematic tags:

Lily Worrall

Title: The Corner
Year: 2017
Length: 06:42
Format: Documentation of installation
“A house constitutes a body of images that give mankind proofs or illusions of stability.”— Bachelard, Gaston & John R. Stilgoe. The Poetics of Space. Beacon Press, 1994.
The corner grounds itself on the plane of the fragile. It is a project that sits within the interstice, and within this frame of solidity, we see the negative space of solitude; the home, the family, the corner.
The house in this presentation acts as a frame that both envelops and projects. These projected images permeate from within the home. In doing so, they inhabit and acknowledge a sense of ‘presence’. Tentative in their pursuits, the hand-held movements of the camera allude to the maker of the images, and their fragmented and cropped nature intensify the actions within the frame. By capturing a sense of voyeurism and imagined senses, these ‘home videos’ elicit both forms of experience for the viewer and the editor. 
The ‘close-up’ gives a sense of integrity to an image of an action. To find a way of encapsulating stillness in action was a push towards angling the camera down towards the feet, to hide the figure but confess its intimacies within anonymity. I have acted as a mobile figure within an immobile space, taking cues from the traversal entity of the flâneur; regarding my imposed limitations within the home.
This body of work reflects that space within the corner, and my proximity with these figures and movements slowly drifts onto the suburban street; noticeable to those who are open to see within this liminality. The use of familial images and experiences prompts me to reflect on the self, whilst speaking to the fragmentation of the familial archive. It has become a way of forming this ‘self’ within and around the home; through presenting and concealing isolated forms of my parents, and to explore the practice of investigating personal and intimate surroundings and how they can permeate into the immediate exterior of a commonly revered solidified structure. 

Thematic tags: documentary, feminism, photography, fine art

Title: Trip
Year: 2015
Length: 12:04
Format: Video
“Just as in life, one can only really see and hear when one is in a state of availability.” (T. Minh-ha 215).

The interlude, the in-between, and the interstitial spaces in films are traditionally shot by a second unit. I seek to inhabit the role of the second-hand filmmaker, disconnected from the clear narrative of the classical form of filmmaking. I act as a Flâneuse, my camera the wandering eye of my observations. Through investigating these preliminary practices, this work acts as an on-going project that questions ways of organising connections; collecting and montaging images for future thoughts and reflection. In this way the work performs like a photo album. A curated composition that aims  to revel in the isolation and fragmentation of familial memories and the family unit. Although curated images may insight a degree of disconnect between family members, they also create a sense of alienation when viewed by a stranger. The stranger must then look in a state of availability, with the responsibility and challenge to form their own narrative, potentially over many sittings. 

“As that claustrophobic unit, the nuclear family, was being carved out of a much larger family aggregate, photography came along to memorialize, to restate symbolically, the imperiled continuity and vanishing extendedness of family life.” (Sontag 9). Working with family comes as an intrinsic type of collaboration. Documenting family experience is regularly perceived through the parents eyes, and becomes the child’s responsibility as the family comes to a point of separation. The “claustrophobic unit” performs within a structure that includes several subjectivities. Through my organisation of captured moments, editing with footage and photographs taken by different members of the family, the images become realised and coherent to us as relatives, despite its stagnated structure and resistance to convenient narrative hooks.

To those that are not privy to the omitted experiences, the film creates a place for projected memories. The uncertainty of duration or erratic changes in focus call for the audience to develop their own narratives and way to work around the images. Its position is to thrive on fragile ground. The awkward nature of interspersed static material and long traveling shots invite reflection and discomfort.  

Title: Cafe Undone
Year: 2014
Length: 10:18
Format: HD video

Lily Worrall is an Auckland based artist, who has recently completed her BFA at Elam School of Fine Arts with first class Honours, and a BA in Film theory at the University of Auckland. She is a structuralist filmmaker, whose practice integrates familial archives, digital materiality, found  materials and feminist film theory. 

Worrall’s practice intuitively leans towards capturing the uncanny. Her videos encompass her relationship to family life which meld cinematic narratives to the personal.


Mary MacGregor-Reid

Title: Hive Oracle
Year: 2015
Length: 04:40
Format: HD video
There is some old beekeeping folklore about talking to your bees, telling them everything that is going on in the home, letting go of your troubles, trusting them with your secrets. Anyone can talk to the bees, but not everyone can hear them speak.

Title: Albedo
Year: 2016
Length: 11:12
Format: HD video
Credits: Soundtrack by RapoonStorey, R. (2003) Breathing Gold, from the album Fallen Gods (Cidar)
: a measure of reflectivity :
: alchemical purification :
: spiritualisation of the body :

When delving into realms of the otherworldly, it is sometimes necessary to suspend doubt (even if not to admit belief) so that one can fully engage with the experience. To the curious mind, exploration of a question can be as fulfilling, if not more so, than attainment of an answer. Perhaps art can be used like a scryer’s black mirror, a refracted vision of ourselves that gives us a view into the unknown.

Title:  The Pelican Surrenders the Blood of Her Heart
Year: 2019
Length: 16:38
Format: HD video
The final transformational stage in the alchemical process is the Rubedo. It marks the penultimate shift from base matter to perfect gold, the apotheosis of both the material and immaterial worlds. These works explore this intangible experience through the symbolism of the blood, the rose, the pelican and transformation through self sacrifice.

Mary MacGregor-Reid’s work explores otherworldly spaces in the context of performance and the performative. Experiencing the role of the artist as both creator, director and performer – MacGregor-Reid has begun building a cosmology through the linking of objects and ideas, a cultivated web of interrelationships. Her method of working has been flexible; spanning object, live performance and video, but always with a focus on the performative. Ritual as performance seemed an appropriate space to interact with the otherworldy, while also allowing the work to quite naturally manifest across a range of media. Working with the performative – particularly recorded performance – she has discovered a method that allows for the sublime, the unnerving and the amusing to exist side by side in a contemporary art context. It has been an evolutionary process, with branches on her ‘cosmology tree’ growing and joining to create a scaffold of ideas and symbols. This has been a process of uncovering, or discovering, these interrelationships as much as it is of creating them. MacGregor-Reid completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2016, she was a finalist in the Glaistor Ennor Awards (NZ, 2016) and had had her work shown at Art Ache (Auckland, NZ, 2016), Buratti Galleries (Perth, Australia, 2016) and Kingsize (Auckland, NZ, 2018). In 2017 she talked at the City Gallery in Wellington, NZ for their international “Occulture” exhibition. Her subject was ‘The embodiment of character in art and the occult”. In 2017 she went to Finland for a month to take part in an artists residency at Arteles Creative Centre.

Moving Image Archive is a RM Gallery and Project Space project
RM Hours
Thursday and Friday 1pm – 6pm
Saturday 12pm – 4pm

Find Us at

Samoa House Lane
Auckland Central 1010
RM is located in the centre of Auckland, close to Karangahape Road. We are on Samoa House Lane, just off of Beresford Street — look out for the incredible fale of Samoa House and you’re nearly there.
We are  2 minutes walk from Artspace, Ivan Anthony and Michael Lett.