Tessa Laird

Prime Ordeal / 2000 / 2' 20"

Aotearoa, New Zealand



Prime Ordeal

Prime Ordeal (2000) is a classic from Auckland artist-writer-editor Tessa Laird whose promiscuous enthusiasms make her a Cuckoo favourite. This work co-mingles women's stunt wrestling (starring Saskia Leek and Joyce Campbell, two well-known NZ artists, and, at the time of videoing, wrestling enthusiasts), a spectacular beginning-of-the-world lava flow, with a rollercoaster of a soundtrack by Not These Days (Auckland artists Daniel Malone and AD Schierning).

This work is capped off by a cheesy pun title, somewhat of a Laird trademark ­ she is a surely a laird of the double entendre, if double/times-two is enough to cover it. This work may generally point to the primordial soup from whence we all come, and our eternal struggle, but, more specifically, it tilts to a particular scene in the 70s film Caveman in which Barbara Bach and Shelley Long fight over Ringo Starr (to many, the best one) and one of them ends up in dinosaur poo...


Tessa Laird is an artist and writer living in Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand. She was an editor of the celebrated NZ art magazines Monica and Log Illustrated. She is also a lecturer at the University of Auckland at Manukau School of Visual Arts.



Cuckoo is an artists' initiative based in Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand, operational since late 2000. We put on shows in other people's galleries, or, rather, we make people give us their gallery to run our programme in.

An artist-run space without a space, we are an informational entity rather than a room. We organise shows and facilitate projects according to the time and energy we have for our ideas and the opportunities that come that come up for us to realise them.

The Cuckoo core are five artists and writers: Jon Bywater, Judy Darragh, Daniel Malone, Ani O'Neill, and Gwynneth Porter. Our internet and design arm is Warren Olds (see www.cuckoo.org.nz). We like to say that we make omelettes without breaking eggs in that our projects are all about artists having more agency within existing gallery spaces.

We are a non-financial project, not seeking funding, paying rentals or charging artists; and entirely community oriented, even if we do take advantage of institutions sometimes. Serves them right for using artists as raw materials.