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recess presents

8 May - 17 July

Bush Doof by Nunzio Madden

With text by Sally Olds

Single channel digital video, 10 min 20 sec
Image courtesy the artist
© Nunzio Madden

Rave and rave culture have attracted the speculations and artistry of some of the best minds of our generation. Until now, the bush doof has not. Nunzio Madden’s work might be the first in a new canon—sacrilegious, irreverent, provincial—whose forebears and parameters I attempt to sketch here.

Björk once described the Northern Lights as ‘really techno’. If that’s true, the Whittlesea Show is really, really techno.

The bush doof is folkloric, medieval, and perverted. Rave is ketamine and Ubers: tight and hard, integrated and aloof. The bush doof is dirty and dry. It makes the rave seem clean by comparison.

The bush doof does not attract Berlin- or Brooklyn-based artists, reading groups, discussion circles, or interventions into academic space. The bush doof is rave’s horizon. The bush doof is not a temporary autonomous zone. The bush doof has always gone on one day too long.

A bush doof is what two people do when they love each other very much. A bush doof is when you fall off the back of a tractor.

‘Bush doof’ implies the existence of a ‘city doof’, but the opposite of a bush doof is not a rave. The closest thing to a city doof is the Ekka after dark. Somehow, even though it’s a nightclub, Revolver is a bush doof. Westfield Chermside on Boxing Day is most certainly a doof.

Just as you can club or rave, you can doof. The past tense of ‘doof’ is ‘doofed’, and someone who doofs is a ‘doofer’. To have doofed is to have ‘been/gone doofing’.

The history of the bush doof is the history of feudal peasantry down under.

Some of the world’s first bush doofs happened in Ancient Greece. Athenians spent up to sixty days doofing each year, and their calendar months were named after notable doofs. In Rome, Pliny the Elder built a soundproof room for writing while the city doofed. Later, all across Europe, the Church threw raves on feast days and common folk doofed in secret. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote about bush doofs in The Canterbury Tales. Hieronymous Bosch’s most famous paintings depict doofs. Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair is a five-act play about doofing. François Rabelais is a brilliant novelist of the bush doof. Mikhail Bakhtin convincingly theorised the doof when he wrote: ‘[it] is not a spectacle seen by the people; they live in it…its very idea embraces all the people.’ Pier Paolo Pasolini made films about doofing—Pasolini was a big doofer.

It goes without saying that Bob Katter is the poet laureate of doofing. Other doofers include Gough Whitlam, Bob Brown, and Pauline Hanson. The most passionate ravers in Australian politics are, in order of enthusiasm, Scott Ludlum, Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin Rudd. Queensland has the highest number of doofers per capita. There has never been a rave in Tasmania.

These are just some facts about bush doofs, drawn from Manning Clark’s A History of Bush Doofs. As he writes in the preface, Australia is a bush doof, gone on one day too long.

Written by Sally Olds

Sally Olds is a writer from Queensland living in Narrm/Melbourne. She helped start and was a contributing editor of literary journal Bumf and her own work has appeared in un MagazineAQNBHowl & Echoes, and more. She is a casual tutor at the University of Melbourne, where she recently completed an MA.

Nunzio Madden (previously known as Natasha Madden) is a Slovenian-Australian artist and musician. Nunzio graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts + Honours from the University of Melbourne’s VCA campus. Since graduating, Nunzio has undertaken a diverse range of projects. This includes self-producing an album ​The Underwater, released in 2012, designing handbags for Rare Candy shown at the Berlin Biennale in 2016, and rebuilding an entire vintage drumkit for ​Real Life Fantasies ​ at Westspace in 2017. In the last few years Nunzio has produced several autobiographical short films— ​Bush Doof ​ was shown at Cinema One for Hobiennale 2019, ​Final Form Part 1 ​ was shown at Fort Delta for ​Midsumma Art Prize ​ in 2017, as well as at ONCURATING PROJECT SPACE in Zurich as part of ​Queering the Exhibition ​ in 2018, and at Pink Flamingo Cinema in Sydney in 2020.

Nunzio Madden
Bush Doof, 2019
Single channel digital video, 10 min 20 sec
Image courtesy of the artist
© Nunzio Madden