Cover image of the review
Marcus McKenzie, *The Crying Room*, 2020, promotional image. Courtesy of the artist, Arts Centre Melbourne and Melbourne Fringe. Photo: Amelia J Dowd and Marcus McKenzie

Marcus McKenzie, The Crying Room

26 Dec 2020
Arts Centre Melbourne

I’m on Zoom again. This time it’s not for a meeting or to teach but to watch The Crying Room, a forty-minute livestream performance by artist Marcus Ian McKenzie. In a promotional video for the performance, McKenzie explains that a crying room is “a small room you have at the back of theatres and churches where you can go if you are crying or making noise and you are disturbing a congregation or an audience”. And so, as he eventually points out to us, a crying room is a lot like Zoom.

The Crying Room was part of the Arts Centre Melbourne’s coveted Take Over! commission, which funded McKenzie—along with nine other artists—to work (and perform) at/from home. The performance was held over three separate showings (meetings?) in partnership with Melbourne Fringe.

Before the performance begins, the other participants (lets also call them audience members) slowly log in, mute themselves and quickly turn their videos off. The only person who doesn’t is a man sitting in his car (I can see the seatbelt) with distinctive white Apple earphones dangling from his ears. He is audibly shuffling around unaware that he’s still unmuted. As he is the only face among the sea of gridded black boxes full of identifiable names, the experience of staring into my screen at him grinning is slightly disruptive. The first chat notification pops up from the very same keen onlooker commenting, “I’m ready to cry!!!”. This is the moment when I worry that I’ll have to participate in some way, but I get distracted hurrying about my apartment to find my partner’s pair of fancy headphones as a prompt pops up on the screen that “headphones are recommended for this performance”.

To read for free enter your email address.

Log in with your registered email address.

Memo can continue to publish free, quality, and independent weekly art criticism with the support of our readers. Consider becoming a Patreon supporter or making a donation.