NUS NatCon: The Artist is Present

This byline would be a picture if Gillian Kayrooz could have her way.

Image: Gillian Kayrooz

The National Conference (‘NatCon’) of the National Union of Students (NUS) felt like a Marina Abramovic performance piece. I’d never experienced anything like it. I had no idea what was happening or what time it was; it was intense, unpleasant, it seemed like anything could happen at any moment.

The following works capture an outsider’s perspective of the four-day-long conference, and how it felt to be trapped in a windowless room with over 200 passionate student politicians.


These portraits incorporate the two items I encountered most frequently: the hundreds of chairs in the conference hall and the countless red cups filled with various factions’ ‘punch’ consumed each night.

The harsh, vibrant strokes of colour demonstrate the impassioned speeches which, when heard for more than 25 hours over three days, morphed into a constant throng of voices.


The line drawing of the conference room explores the seemingly endless hours that we spent sitting in the windowless gymnasium. The bright pink and orange colours lend the image a sense of excitement as I watched student politicians speaking with unbridled intensity that sometimes spilled over into yelling and verbal attacks.