The SEVENTH Writers Program is a new initiative that hopes to foster collaborative relationships between artists and writers, and provide a platform for both to engage new audiences. Each writer is paired with an exhibiting artist, and will produce a text based on their exchanges, discussing the artist’s practice and intent. With a structure that is open to experimental form and thought, the Writers Program aims to contribute to the expanding discussion and engagement with writing within the emerging arts scene.
Show 3, 2017
As a body explores space in two parts
by Kathleen Linn
Exhibition: Johanna van der Linden and Gabriel Mello, Hold
From the materials of the manipulated world, possessing attributes of the natural world.
Devoid of colour, cold, hard a contrived rock forms
its weight predominates our minds.
As it travels across an intersection of weight and weightlessness
comes the body in an ethereal form
not the body, where the body was,
traces and outlines of what is left behind
This is the body of the subtle world, leaving residue which can weigh more than stone
To shape the body to a weight
as the weight of ages shapes the body
Of stone and rock, yet mixed by machine and readily available in bags over the counter of a hardware store
Filled vessels their function, their value, their use
interaction performs them
Ideas of a concurrent interplay between falling and floating, weightlessness and gravity provide an interesting position from which to approach the work of Johanna van der Linden and Gabriel Mello. The artworks shown in Hold explore weight, volume and spatial dynamics through the residues and traces left by the body, its weight and materiality, and a meshing between weight and weightlessness, presence and absence.
Volume and mass, to carry a weight or bear a burden, within our gravitational eld exerts pressures both very physical and more subtle. Carrying a load can have a practical, material aspect of moving something from A to B but it can also have emotional and psychological connotations in the weight we bear in society and how much we carry with us through this world.
Carrying something often involves the use of bags and baskets of various forms—the value of these objects is intertwined with the body in an interesting way as they only function in relation to the body. A bag or a backpack moulds itself to the shape of the body as it is carried. A plastic shopping bag reshapes itself to accommodate its contents and how it is being carried—the distribution of mass between the bag and the person’s hand and body as they carry it. Whether we carry something with ease or with a struggle is determined by the contents of a bag, its shape, its volume and how this weight is distributed. Gabriel Mello’s work forms an exploration of weight, mass and the body. He explores the effects of weight on the body and how the body exerts its own force against this mass.
The creation of Mello’s work requires a strenuous physical performance. Upon filling a bag, backpack or plastic shopping bag with plaster he wears the bag against his body, or holds it in his hand, sometimes for hours as the plaster sets. The plaster-filled bag exerting pressure against his body and his body pushing back against the bag form a physical, durational performance of this transference of mass and force, creating a cast of the bag as it rests upon his body.
Mello’s works exhibited in Hold also explore how soft materials hang in space. In Hanging Bag (2015), for example, an interesting interplay of weight, materiality and spatial dynamics unfolds. The hanging material, often bed sheets, cradles the smaller sculptures in a sheltering gesture that not only explores space and weight, but also oppositional forces— hardness and softness, rigidity and suppleness.
Mello utilises many of the formal qualities of minimalism in his work—such as the use of cold, grey plaster and the simplified geometric forms the bags take on. His exploration of the temporal and spatial considers equilibrium and balance but also presence and absence, as well as how the viewer moves through the gallery space and encounters the works.
Weight is an emotional concept as much as it is a physical one, with baggage and burdens carried by many through the world. There is the mental weight an object occupies in our mind; this weight will vary greatly from person to person depending on our experience with a particular object and the accumulated memories, emotions and connotations associated with that object.
Johanna van der Linden’s work focuses on the body. She too is concerned with spatial concepts, and the subtle or haptic traces the body leaves behind as it moves through the world. The interaction between presence and absence, and the delicate changes that occur over the passage of time, form interesting lenses through which her work can be considered.
van der Linden explores the repeated, daily rituals of our lives in her photographic works. In Waking (2016) she took a photograph of the impression left on her bed sheets by her body every morning for around two months. These subtle photographs record the relationship between gravity and the corporeal. van der Linden examines weight distribution and how our body conforms to the sheets and mattress and how they are shaped by the body. Perhaps this gentle impression left on the sheets takes on a more ethereal quality, more akin to making snow angels; it records the presence of the body in the marks of its absence. van der Linden is fascinated with the ritualisation and recording of the banal aspects of our daily lives.
The concept of the subtle body comes primarily from the Hindu tradition, as well as other belief systems such as the occult and mystical teachings. The Bhagavad Gita, an important Hindu text, espouses that we each possess three bodies: our gross, physical body; the mental body and the subtle body. The subtle body is connected to, but is separate from, our physical body and accordingly the subtle body corresponds to an ethereal plane of existence. This plane sits in a hierarchy or great chain of being that culminates in the physical form. According to the Bhagavad Gita the subtle body is composed of mind, intelligence and ego, which controls the gross, physical body. This concept of the subtle body, of something intangible, disembodied yet intimately connected to the physical body and all its functions, connects to the indistinct and intangible bodily traces central to the work of van der Linden and Mello.
Kathleen Linn is a Sydney-based writer, curator and (sometimes) artist. She is currently interested in how art and our lives intersect with critical theory and technology and is exploring how we can conceptualise this in text-based and performative forms. She has participated in the safARI Explorer Writers program 2016, NextWave Festival 2016, Interlude Gallery Writers Program 2016/17. Her writing has appeared in Das Platforms,Terra Firma Magazine and RAVEN Contemporary.
Show 2, 2017
by Tiarney Miekus
Exhibition: Gallery One: Giordano Biondi, Georgia Mill, Facsimile
There are many films, whether it’s The Blockbuster or the more ‘experimentally’ inclined, that negotiate memory and fantasy by setting their (non)narrative around various ontological instabilities. Characters fail to distinguish fantasy from reality, or are kept from the knowledge of reality and, by implication, the knowledge of themselves. Think Vanilla Sky, Mulholland Drive, Memento, Synecdoche New York, The Bourne series, The Wolverine, Brazil, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Inland Empire, Solaris… It’s as if our shared cultural memory revolves upon the very instability of memory, alongside a reality that is perpetually unverifiable.
Yet it’s not particularly interesting to say there are diegetic realities present. We can easily see how Neo in The Matrix gains the ability to tell the ‘false’ reality, the world we live in, from the ‘real’ reality. Neo’s ability to see the infamous green code is a visualization of the world’s truth. Or how in Mulholland Drive, Betty Elms creates an initially sensical fantasy (new girl in town, aspiring actress, love story) to battle with her less desirable realities and failures, the later of which continuously invade her more promising fantasy. Both characters are caught in their own ontological instability but whereas Neo’s imperative is to solve this instability, or to recognise the difference between fantasy and reality, Betty Elms has no such prerogative. Her subjectivity is tied too much to fantasy; to try and gain a sense of ontological stability, separating the layers of reality, is impossible.
What becomes interesting then, is that in the juxtaposition of fantasy and reality, the desire for true knowledge of the world and the self is often presented in mainstream film as an ethical battle. For the story to end properly—for the moral to conclude—Jason Bourne and Wolverine must defeat their enemies by recovering the truth of their past, regaining memory and winning the knowledge of reality. Directors like Terry Gilliam or David Lynch do not give their characters such easy luxuries or such clearly defined lines between the reality and the phantasm. We can’t choose between reality and non-reality as both are equally essential to self-narrative. Instead, we begin to work with realities.
While The Blockbuster sees the reality/fantasy divide as an issue to be solved, it simultaneously ignores its status as a film; it does not problematise its ontological status as a reproduction of reality. Conversely, many experimental films enjoy the blur of reality and fantasy and are excited by the promise of multiple realities, and unlike The Blockbuster, they seek to actively problematise their status as a reproduction of reality by making a (often subtle) meta-criticism on their own ontological status.
For the experimental filmmaker it seems that the ontological instability of form is related to the ontological instability of content and this preoccupation is apparent in Georgia Mill and Giordano Biondi’s Facsimile.
Biondi’s work is the repetition of a single image that degrades through a process of printing, scanning and re-printing over numerous successions. All that’s left after multiple scans and prints is a sheet of monochrome that has no resemblance to the first print. The image itself, a black and white photograph, contains a young boy who is Biondi’s great-grandfather’s son, who died at age thirteen. Upon his son’s death, the great-grandfather had a diary made in which his son’s photo was re-printed in the upper-left corner of each page. The great-grandfather used the diary to write to his son, forming an imaginary dialogue and, in one revealing entry, tells us that he could no longer recall his son’s face.
The relentlessly printed image was consequently no substitute for the lost mental image. The great-grandfather, while creating a phantasmic narrative and dialogue, cannot access the memory of his son’s image and cannot find anything recognisable in the reality of the portrait that exists in front of him; the image makes no sense to the experience. This is mimicked by Biondi’s reproduction, where the act of repetition has destroyed the clarity of the original photographic image. While the reprints look like a linear narrative progression, their narrative is built on displacement and this displacement is done for the sake of the content and history that underlies the image.
At a formal level Biondi’s work brings to mind Hito Steyerl’s well-known ‘In Defense of the Poor Image’ which defines the ‘poor image’ as one of low resolution and subject to appropriation and easy sharing, with these final features aligning the poor image with the deterritorialisation of contemporary capitalism. While its formal properties may mimic contemporary capital’s structures, Steyerl sees positivity in how the poor image escapes being a work of national culture, of commercial circulation and adherence to modernist notions of originality and aura. The claim to originality is rendered a non-claim as Steyerl tells us, “The poor image is no longer about the real thing—the originary original. Instead, it is about its own real conditions of existence…”
For Steyerl, the process of reproduction and dissemination de-centralises the primacy of the original to focus on the here-and-now of the images’ conditions, whereas for Facsimile the undoing of the primacy of the original is bought about by memory and fantasy, which destabilises our notion of the ‘original’ person or the original event in favour of what the mind experiences as ‘the real’.
This brings us to Mill’s contribution to Facsimile in which a series of interview subjects discuss a memory that some subjects believe to be real, despite the recollection containing elements of the fantastic. The ontological strangeness exists in the knowledge that their memory can be proven false, but the feeling or intuition of its reality still persists. These snippets of memory border into the realm of the phantasmic and include recollections of a thick, vivid pink fog in which a foal is born, a teddy bear tied to helium balloons floating into the sky and a ball of fire driving Earth-ward like the coming of Armageddon.
In contrast to these memories the subjects tell us how various documentation of the scene disproves their recollection, or that their memory does not align with another’s recollection of events. Even though nothing can confirm the memory, its vividness is not altered and no one is quite prepared to relinquish the experience of the fantasy. Like Biondi’s great-grandfather, a loss has taken place that will not be fully admitted to. Mill’s work exists within the thought of Lacan and Žižek where fantasy cannot be rejected in favour of reality, but must be understood as its own motivating and sustaining force. Likewise for philosopher Lauren Berlant, the creation and sustaining of fantasy is not about the scene, the memory or the desired object; it is about how fantasy gives narrative and provides the very foundation of our subjectivity. As narcissistic as it seems, it is about the self.
In many ways Mill and Biondi’s two contributions work as complimentary inversions. Mill’s interview subjects have gained memories that they know to be phantasms and yet cannot be fully discarded, while Biondi’s work revolves upon the loss of memory and the creation of a fantasy dialogue to make sense of this loss. While Mill’s subjects speak of memories, scenes and images, these are linguistic entities until Mill populates the space with visual objects representing the memories, and Biondi’s work presents us with an image, even though it ultimately speaks about the loss of a visual image.
How strange that we are so equally capable of remembering a false memory as we are of forgetting the truth of a loved one’s face. Memory is not a storage device available for accurate playback, but a collection of mis-matched narrative strands where the truth is of little consequence, even though we paradoxically acknowledge truth’s relevance.
Above all Facsimile serves to complicate our experiences of the world: does experience come to us in the occurrence, the image or the personal recollection?
Tiarney Miekus is a Melbourne based writer and musician who dabbles in art and sound. Tiarney is part of experimental group No Sister and is currently a BLINDSIDE board member.
Show 1, 2017
Take Away Space – Share House Choreography, Danica Karaicic
by Claire Weigall
When I was in my early twenties I lived in Richmond in a narrow Victorian terrace. The front door opened onto a long, dark hallway, leading first to Amelia’s room and then to mine. Then came the bathroom and the open plan kitchen and living space. Glass sliding doors revealed a neat, concrete courtyard containing a yucca plant in a terracotta pot and a diminutive outdoor setting.
My housemate, Amelia, was a law student and an early riser. Every morning, in pursuit of coffee, she stalked past my room in the highest and skinniest of stilettos. As espresso brewed in an hourglass pot, she microwaved a jar of milk and pelted around the kitchen, shaking it aloft like a maraca and leaving the polished floorboards studded with the imprints of her heels.
The space was dominated by an enormous island bench—a black, laminex monolith. Amelia’s heel prints traced her daily rituals, draping around the bench in a path as wide and intricately woven as a shipping rope. Certain areas of the floor were more heavily pockmarked: in front of the refrigerator; in front of the sink; in front of the oven, in front of the kettle; in front of the back door. In those places it was as though somebody had thrown down handfuls of acid confetti.
Today, I wonder where my invisible footprints would have fallen in relation to hers. Did the space direct me via the same crooks and curves, like an ant following the leader on an unseen path? Or did I ping pong erratically off the walls and furniture, like a sun-drunk blowfly? I imagine that throughout our cohabitation, Amelia and I were actually dancing together in space, our movements choreographed by the kitchen bench, the Ikea bar stools and the hand-me-down couch of cracked salmon leather. Even the yucca had its role to play, a fleeting dance partner, repeatedly twirling us two steps clockwise en route to the clothesline. Back then I didn’t think about choreography. Back then I just worried that we would lose our rental bond as a result of Amelia’s footwear choices. I never mentioned my concerns to Amelia.
* * *
I am in an art gallery in Gertrude Street. A white wall stands in the centre of the room. It dominates the space—a white monolith. To the body it is immovable, solid, imposing; yet to the eye it fades into the other walls, blending into the periphery with the softness of white clouds and cream. I feel adrift in the negative space that is created by the presence of the wall; negative space in which my all black outfit has never felt so raucous. I circle the wall, observing it and trying to understand it. What does it mean? Why is it here? What am I supposed to do? At first I keep a safe distance, unsure of myself and how much space I am allowed to take up in the room. I learn that I am allowed to touch the wall and more than that, I am allowed to take away from it. Knowing this, I move closer. I notice details— fabric protruding from plaster. The delicately patterned and textured bricks beckon to my hands. I place my hands on the wall. And stop. And feel.
* * *
Amelia loved the kitchen in Richmond, with its generous proportions and brilliant north light, so it seems fitting that she left behind an imprint. Her cooking, like her shoes, was about aesthetics, and she spent hours trimming herbs, daubing plates with purees and searing the edges of things. She created her edible compositions with the accompaniment of a glass of wine, a favourite playlist and a meditative peacefulness, all the while wearing those towering perma-heels like a 1950s housewife—although that’s not the kind of person she was. Her stilettos had become patent leather extensions of her persona because they made her feel good. She liked being taller. She enjoyed the feeling of taking up more space in the room —it gave her a jolt of confidence. Even on Sunday mornings she wore heels in the kitchen, subtly intimidating me as she claimed her territory.
To this day, faded yellow sticky notes bearing her handwriting protrude from the pages of one of my recipe books. Jewelled couscous. Seared prawns. Salmon tamarind. I have kept the book although I never use it. I like the way it activates my memory of Amelia, confidently immersed in an act of creativity: claiming space; owning space; holding space. In my mind’s eye she is swanning around the kitchen bench, slicing, tasting and arranging, while I read on the couch; and in our own ways we are both serenely happy in the space we call home.
* * *
I am in an art gallery in Gertrude Street. I am searching for a worksite—a single brick; a piece of space to claim as my own. I am exploring, open, alive with sensation. I search with my eyes. I search with my hands. When I find it I know. This is the piece I want to take away with me, as pleasing to my eyes as it is to my fingertips. With my chisel and mallet I shatter a corner of brick, unearthing a piece of fabric from within. A fine coating of plaster dust makes the fabric feel like the skin of a peach, but beneath the residue it is smooth and cool to touch. I pull at it and recognise the shape of a shirt sleeve. I am in my body like a child, experiencing the smooth and the rough, the tension, the friction, the vibrations and the giving way.
The act of mini demolition feels inexplicably pleasant. The wall is beautiful and for a moment I am sorry for what I destroy. I want to stop and just admire it. And then, a moment later, I’m at it again like a surgeon. I am determined to take away my piece and fashion it into the shape of a jewel. I will own the space. I will wear the space. When I’m wearing the space I will tell people about my memory of this experience in an art gallery in Gertrude Street—a memory that will forever be attached to this particular fragment. It is not a fragment of plaster, but a fragment of time and space. The space has changed me, ever so slightly. It has left its imprint on me, just as I have left my imprint on the space. I have scarred the wall with my chisel; I have left my footprints in the white dust on the floor; and my blood has absorbed the oxygen from the room.
* * *
Amelia moved out first, to live with her boyfriend. I stayed for a few more years, all the while fretting about the damaged floor. When Amelia moved out she took my blue wine glasses with her. They were cheap and chunky. She left behind her much nicer ones. I never said anything about it and I still have her wine glasses. I got the bond back without any trouble.
Claire is a Melbourne based writer and artist. She is co-director of Tribe for Art, an organisation dedicated to increasing the visibility of women artists in the public forum by providing opportunities for its members to create, connect, collaborate and exhibit. Her writing has been featured in local and national publications including The Big Issue and Bubba West Magazine.
Show 13, 2016
Lauren May – Fold
By Pauline Rotsaert
Cell by cell, an anamorph takes shape.
Like a spider weaving its web, moving elsewhere once it has fulfilled its purpose,
Lauren May’s work takes form, takes hold and takes itself apart; only to be reborn from the ashes, transformed and transmuted.
The artist’s work is constantly shifting and evolving, both in terms of the materials she uses and the scale at which she operates.
But whatever tangent she chooses to explore, Lauren’s vision remains.
Like a microscope which keeps zooming; zooming until contours dissolve and the familiar disintegrates.
Amid the all-encompassing blur, shapes and shadows make fleeting appearances.
The frontier between abstract and figurative form melts gently away.
Dimensions warp and meld as a blunt new reality emerges.
Time loses its way.
Under the luminous spectrum, shadows are parading.
But, are they already gone? Is this really happening?
This flowing skin is toying with us.
Gigantic and fluid.
Screen and lens.
The atmosphere weighs heavy.
Shadows haunt the latex like ghosts of our collective past, coursing through blue veins and feeding off our gaze.
The piece is alive. It is flowing and ghostly.
Human or other. Abstract or figurative.
Whatever it is it’s already gone, or else yet to arrive.
The shadows remain to remind us, like mirrors of ourselves in forms yet to emerge, or perhaps lost to eternity.
The piece is here.
But we are already looking forward to the next one.
Cellule par cellule,
un corps anamorphe se distingue.
Telle une araignée qui se tisse son garde-manger pour le planter ailleurs lorsqu’il est consommé,
l’œuvre de Lauren May se crée, s’installe et se consume pour renaître de ses cendres,
L’artiste est en perpétuel mouvement et évolution dans son travail, de par les matériaux utilisés et le zoom choisi. Mais malgré les tangentes choisies, le fil conducteur reste le même.
Car comme dans un microscope dont Lauren change de lunette de taille de plus en plus précise,
on en perd ces contours, sa source.
Tout devient flou, on ne distingue que des tâches, des ombres.
La limite entre la forme figurative et abstraite commence à s’atténuer.
L’artiste agrandi les dimensions, crée des zooms. Une réalité grossière et sourde se dessine.
Le temps, est également confus. Sous le spectre lumineux, les ombres défilent.
Mais sont-elles passés ? Sont- elles présentes ?
La peau flottante se joue de nous.
Gigantesque et fluide.
Écran et focale.
La confusion règne.
Le son ambiant pèse.
Non. Pas de mouvement.
Les ombres tels des fantômes passés hantent le latex, vivent dans les veines bleutées et se nourrissent de nos regards.
L’œuvre est vivante. Elle est fluide et fantomatique.
Humaine ou non. Abstraite ou figurative.
De tout façon elle est déjà passée ou à venir. Les ombres sont là pour nous le rappeler, tels des miroirs de nous-mêmes peut-être à venir ou bien éteins à jamais.
La pièce est là.
Mais on attend déjà la prochaine.
Pauline Rotsaert is a writer and artist.
Originally from France, she finished her degree in Fine Arts at the Beaux Arts School in Bordeaux. She worked at castillo/corrales, Paraguay Press and 7 Section Books, in Paris, and is interested in artist books and publishing.
Show 13, 2016
Freÿa Black – Umbilicus in Flux
By Sophia Cai
The passage of time is experienced by all, marked and delineated by objects and subjects that chart its progress. We observe and measure time not only through its effects in the external world (clocks, seasonal changes, materials) but also through its effects on our own bodies and consciousness. We are physical embodiments of change, from which we experience and also represent the progress of time through natural growth and decay. To consider time is to think of the most universal experience of all, an experience grounded in our physical existence and the enigma of our own limited time—mortality.
Freÿa Black’s practice is informed by these ideas of time keeping and consciousness. Her works observe and consider the place of the self within the surrounding physical environment, using durational markers to mediate her felt experience. Self-reflection, endurance and meditative practice are all central to her artistic process.
In her latest work, Umbilicus in Flux, Black continues her recent series of loom installations. The inspiration for these works is the so-called ‘Knitting Nancy’, a type of hand-held loom where users thread yarn through pegs to form a fabric. Using similar principles of weaving and winding, Black has engineered a loom-like structure that spans the gallery wall and translates the mechanics of the Knitting Nancy to large-scale production. Using recycled and found materials and cloth, Black has created an installation that is visually arresting and compelling.
When I visited the artist at home two weeks before the exhibition, the work in progress already measured seven metres. Surrounding the artist in her studio, the fabric was stretched across three walls, creating a cocoon-like nest with Black at work in the centre. While her previous weavings consisted of a denser fabric, Umbilicus in Flux sees her work for the first time on a larger scale, to create a more net-like and open structure.
The different materials and textures of the recycled cloths clearly delineate where one fabric ends and another begins. I am reminded of geographical strata, layers of soil that can be excavated to tell the history of the earth from the top down. Similarly, Black’s work can be ‘read’ as a personal narrative that charts the artist’s own time and history, as told by the strips of cloths—from most recently woven to oldest. Amongst the layers of fabrics are clothes from friends and family; fabrics acquired and recycled; cloths both priceless and valueless similarly cut up and woven into one. A closer examination can reveal some clues to the origins of the materials—such as clothing labels and flannel textures like those found on collared shirts—but these are only possibilities.
Although Black is careful to refrain from overt comparisons of her work to the body, the use of cloth and its social delineations (as ‘second skin’, as social fabric, as cultural signifier) imbue her work with a physical presence and sense of intimacy. The materiality of cloth—its very softness, flexibility, and its close connection to the body—can generate a strongly ‘felt’ response. As our day-to-day lives are surrounded by all manner of fabrics, not only in our clothing but also in our homes and furnishings, there is an immediacy and familiarity in their use.
Now installed at SEVENTH, Umbilicus in Flux lives up to its name, continuing to grow and change. For Black, the work is not ‘completed’ for the exhibition, and the final installation is not the end result. Rather, the process of weaving and its continuity is a central focus, and something that will continue throughout the duration of the work’s showing in the gallery. In this regard, the performative aspect of the work—of Black manually working the structure—is just as significant as the physical output.
It is this endurance and ongoing process that forms the central tenet of Black’s practice. One can ponder what the significance of spent time is, when our time is only valuable because of its very finite nature. To thereby focus on repetition and the slow process of weaving is to focus on a self-awareness of the self within the world, a self that is guided and shaped by external forces of time and change. Umbilicus in Flux is a work that invites us to join the artist in this self-realisation.
Sophia Cai is a Melbourne-based emerging curator and arts writer with a particular interest in Asian art history as well as contemporary craft-based practice. She graduated from the Australian National University with a First Class Honours degree in Art History and Curatorship, and completed her Masters in History of Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London in 2014.
Show 11, 2016
Manifesto for Unbound Colour
by Stephanie Berlangieri
Colour has rarely been seen. Too often it is allied with secondary matters like form and paint that only serve to obscure it. Colour is so intrinsically tied to these subsidiary elements that it is often confused with them. We insist that this conflation be undone. Colour, when it operates for some other purpose outside itself, is modest, unassertive and guileful. It deceivingly concedes to systemic impositions, but when it is allowed to simply subsist on its own, to happen, there is a sublime and arresting effect. We want to arrive at a true awareness of colour. Colour in its discrete value; colour with other colours. We want to unbind colour and allow it to self-govern. We want to facilitate the conditions for colour’s independence:
Nothing escapes colour. The proverb goes that the end makes all equal; death is the great leveller. As death is to life, colour is to form. No form is spared from colour. Colour is enjoined to form like a rapacious parasite. Colour supports its existence from its host, form. Form may attempt to assert its independence but colour will always pronounce its presence. Colour envelops, engulfs and threatens to consume but always maintains a distance. Colour is not form.
All colours are equivalent. Traditional colourists would have you believe in the centrality of the colour wheel and its hierarchical dictatorship of colour. It is a way of imposing colour with human value judgements; an arbitrary system that denies the inherent value of each discrete colour. Why is red, a primary colour, purer than vermillion, a tertiary? Hue, saturation and tone are simply facts and not qualifiers. Hence, we use colour in its “original” state, as it is given as dry pigment or packaged in tin paint tubes. This is a democratic act; an acknowledgment of the parity of colour. We welcome a non-systemic understanding of colour that respects its autonomy and widespread, impartial usage.
Colour is an end in and of itself. The distance between colour and form necessitates that colour be conceived of as independent. Colour need not be allied with form or anything else. Colour is not merely an adjective, used to describe the qualities of something more “substantial”. Yellow isn’t warm, happy, joyous or energetic. Yellow is yellow. We are stripping colour of its time-worn conventional connotations to experience it in its unsullied wholeness.
Colour combinations reveal colour. Colours are placed adjacently to one another by the effects of chance, choice and curiosity. These groupings anticipate the exposure of colour as it is. They are not reliant on an external classificatory structure which encourages or discourages the placement of certain colours against others. The spectator, neither innocent nor receptive, arrives at the painting laden with presuppositions. We embrace disharmony, discomfort and disgust. For colour to be seen in its fullness we must first release colour from its associations. This will not be pleasant. Fondness for a colour is irrelevant when met with its reality.
Colour has ultimate primacy. Paint is subordinate to colour. It simply carries colour and is a facilitator of its application. Though the painterly is not of concern to us, paint nonetheless imparts certain qualities on to colour which must be considered. The type of paint used alters the reading of colour. Matte paint invokes the introspective, it recedes and draws in the spectator. Gloss paint reflects; it is suggestive of surface and mirrors its surrounds. These are physical properties one cannot overlook, unlike the imagined qualities habitually affixed to colour.
Colour eludes description. When colour is isolated and properly treated in its sovereignty, its comprehension supersedes linguistic expression. Bereft of an incompetent qualitative vocabulary we are permitted a space to actually encounter it. Transcendence or sublimity may be the effect if we do not regulate colour through language. We can talk around colour but not of it. This manifesto obviously enacts the former.
Accordingly, let us approach the eventual self-determination of colour by regarding these statements as a necessary truth. Only by disengaging from previous falsities about colour can we allow colour to reinstate its natural position.
Show 11, 2016
Matthew Usinowicz, The Block Is Hot
By Madeleine Russo
The placement of unusual or dramatic events within cinema give material analogies to a film’s more internalised conflicts. These events that audiences witness in the spectacle of cinema imply a climax or relief of a given scenario. To accentuate the rising tensions within a Brooklyn neighbourhood, Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing’ (1989) places his characters in an unforgiving heat wave that aggravates its community’s rising conflicts. As the climate overtakes its environment, characters find a temporary solution by opening one of the street’s fire hydrants, resulting in a scene that unites its distressed residents by dousing themselves in the water pressure that’s been building underneath them. In a moment of relief gained in a minor unlawful act, it then follows that authorities should eventually arrive to lid its tensions once again.
Typically, Western film production finds individuals or groups solving the peak of their conflicts by conducting minor acts of administering their own authority. These usually involve a bizarre act of citizen disobedience: running red lights to get to the hospital; taking over the school’s PA system; bypassing airport security; swapping uniforms with unconscious authorities. The audience’s focus on a film’s protagonist privileges this permission of an individual’s unique behaviour under special circumstances. Audience support of these behaviours question how individuals can negotiate structures of authority in the face of crisis.
These structures that characters often disuse belong to and are sanctioned by an antagonistic or militant authority, making these crisis-control objects, like fire hose-reels or PA systems, dependent on a narrow selection of a larger community. The way that these emergency response objects remain exclusive within these structures suggests that its objects are vulnerable to vandalization at crisis point. Releasing the valves of fire hydrants for the sake of its community amongst pressing conflicts suggests a quasi-vigilante act of reappropriating the exclusive object of government infrastructure into the individual’s rights for seeking and providing basic relief for its community. These actions temporarily shift the hierarchical systems within citizen obedience, giving permission for members of the community to reclaim a sense of authority within dominant authoritarian structures.
Depicting community heroes, like volunteer firefighters, activist demonstrators, or most film protagonists, starts with the appropriation of authoritative props. The identification of these officials: high-visibility fabrics of authorities or protest accessories of their challengers suggest the internal nature of authority that pass through individuals, resulting in this immediate application when navigating conflicts. The act of individuals reclaiming control from a dominating environment doesn’t symbolise a call for anarchy, but rather an exchange of authority through the appropriated use of these objects. These moments call to attention the way that communal pressures evolve and how individuals respond in the face of community pressures. Re-negotiating the significance of community within authoritarian structures is particularly relevant in the US, where individual rights to authoritative objects has been met with extreme backlash.
Proposing the potential relief from rising tensions in our current political environment calls on individuals to appropriate authoritative objects and structures. Inventing potential solutions at crisis point ultimately suggests the moderation and fluidity of authoritative structures through this permitting of exchanges of usage. Negotiations between the individual and their environments express the communal desire for relief within distressed communities, and help question how authority can be appropriated to collaborate on, rather than enforce solutions for communities.
Madeleine Russo is an artist undertaking her Honours in Fine Art at Monash University.
Show 11, 2016
by Katie Costello
on Nick Kleindienst
Chromatic orbs of creative thought,
monitors map the absurdity.
Vivid pulses of colour disport
homogenous minds, such a pity.
Beyond the screen is illusory space,
clustered isles, in an ocean rhetoric.
Viators with unique ideas meet embrace,
whilst the standardized thinker’s fed arsenic.
So, should it become indexicalised,
the process of ingenuity,
I must escape being systematised,
build a boat, and write a sea shanty.
Katie Costello is an interdisciplinary artist, project manager and event producer. Since 2015, Katie has pursued her passion for contemporary art writing, satire and poetry. Based in Melbourne, she is currently undertaking an Artist Residency in Motherhood whilst working part-time in education governance.
Katie’s publications include:
+ ‘Untitled (On Artspeak)’ in Precinct 015: VCA School of Art Graduates (2015) University of Melbourne, Victoria.
+ Celebrations and Commemorations (2013) History Teachers Association of Victoria, Melbourne.
Show 10, 2016
By Jade Forrester
Screen versus pigment
binary versus chance
fieldwork versus now
precision as deceptor.
Light and space
Irwin and the Californians
lines drawn between time and forms
extending outward on their own search.
Suspension and refraction
common threads found
Rhythms of patterns
Rhythms of patterns; interrupted.
Surface versus depth
luminescence in focus,
unstoppable, it disperses and dissipates
along its own laws.
The hidden hand,
the known systems,
the affect of presence,
the misinterpreted, lost and gained.
A rusted wash
protecting our own rhythms
an acknowledgment of the real:
Us as physical, as objects, as machines.
Light now hovering
contained and controlled
but infiltrating as light does
not a dense collider.
The flexibility of the concrete
at its core
opens the possibility
of making the new old, and the old newer.
Levity versus weight
reflecting the subject
Jade Forrester is an Australian artist and writer. Jade has degrees in sculpture (RMIT, with honours) and music (Melb. Uni.) and a graduate diploma in art history (Melb. Uni.). Based from her studio in Brunswick, her practice is broad-ranging in form, with an overarching tendency toward the conceptual.
Show 9, 2016
A Live Work
by Kit Riley
on Isobel Taylor-Rodgers’ Grimm But Still Wakeful
fourth fifth of July, and it’s a cold rainy morning, and I’m beginning to write edit this essay. It’s the fourth fifth of July, and it’s after the eighteenth of August, and you’re here to see Grimm But Still Wakeful by Isobel Taylor-Rodgers.
Grimm But Still Wakeful is a live performance about death. It’s likely you’ve already missed the opening night performance, and you’re reading this essay in a nearly unpopulated gallery, and you’re just standing here, looking at a previously-live work lying in a white room.
Perhaps it’s after the second of September, and you’ve missed even the installation, and the gallery is already full of somebody else’s art. Or perhaps it’s opening night, and you’re actually here at the live performance of Grimm But Still Wakeful. Be that as it may, in my mind you’re reading this having missed the performance, but not the exhibition.
It’s after the eighteenth of August, and here you are amongst what’s left over. If you had attended the live event, you might have had to deal with that peculiar anxiety where you’re observing
the bereaved the artist as if she were a body of work, and you feel kind of awkward about just observing her, and you think maybe she doesn’t want you to interact with her anyway, and even if she did you can’t begin to think what you could do or say and you just feel lost, you feel that the usual social norms and expectations to which you are accustomed simply don’t apply in this situation and you can find no appropriate alternative framework to guide your thinking and interactions so you’re trapped in a worried stasis in which you can’t seem either to observe or to interact which causes you to feel even more intensely the imperative to be able to relate with people in this container for mourning culture to which you cannot return after the dispersal of the group and the rehiring of the space for another person’s wake show.
Luckily, you’re here after the fact, so although you’ve missed the action, you’ve also missed the anxiety. Here you are, in
the gallery the funeral home a retreating interior, a transposable space that, when empty, may as well be altogether absent. Here you are, in a room that exists intermittently, a room made present by a procession of interchangeable things people deaths bodies.
fourth fifth of July, and it’s forty-five forty-four days until the performance of Grimm But Still Wakeful. The action is still unperformed, and the installation is still unconstructed. I’m trying to imagine the thing about which I write, and I can picture nothing but the blank walls I recall from my visits to previous shows.
fourth fifth of July, and I’m remembering a past that has yet to occur, and it’s after the eighteenth of August, and you’re imagining a present to which you can’t catch up.
Kit Riley is an artist, writer, and zinemaker who lives in Melbourne, Australia. Kit is interested in the thick and porous boundaries between here and there, self and other, sanity and madness, something and nothing. Kit creates text-, image-, and textile-based works in an attempt to reimagine communicative norms and reinhabit socially awkward environ/mentalities.
Kit has exhibited work in Melbourne, including at SEVENTH, the Substation, and FOUND Festival. Kit’s writing has been published in Sitelines and Mad In America.
Show 9, 2016
By Erin Wilson
on Jesse Dyer
Origin and Etymology
New Latin, from Greek, neuter of philodendros loving trees, from phil- +dendron tree
First Known Use: 1877
A tropical American climbing plant which is widely grown as a greenhouse or indoor plant.
In 1973, the seminal text The Secret Life of Plants by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird reached The New York Times best-seller list for non-fiction. The pseudo-scientific text presented a myriad of experiments that claimed plants were sentient beings: displaying preferences for musical styles; anticipating the thoughts of humans; and showing empathy for the plight of fellow plants.[i] The text latched on to the increasing popularisation of New Age thinking during this period, and was the catalyst for a shifting, more amorous view of plants. Many believe there may be deeper connections between the capabilities of plants and our own cognition, communication and memory, while others have suggested that The Secret Life of Plants has negatively impacted future scientific investigations into plant behaviours, as researchers became wary of aligning themselves with the field of plant sentience.
Rather than finding its basis in science, Jesse Dyer’s work is a thought experiment. Dyer asks visitors to engage in a guided meditative process in order to project their consciousness onto a common Philodendron houseplant, asking participants to set aside logic, instead opening themselves up to an intuitive experience with the plants. Through this exchange Dyer seeks to test whether the ecological can rival the archival—an investigation into information systems and the dissemination of knowledge, through the poetic alignment of the knowledge contained in a library with that contained in gardens.
1. Facts, information and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject
2. Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation
As codes and data become unreadable, communications systems are regularly surpassed and technologies become obsolete, Dyer asks if is there room for an alternative source of knowledge. The therapeutic and revitalising effect of the serotonin levels we absorb in green spaces is widely accepted, but do gardens have more to offer us? Do plants, despite having no brain or nervous system, have emotions; can they communicate? Can they be empathic?
The field of plant neurobiology is divisive, with some believing that it may hold the key to a shift in our understanding of other forms of life, while others suggest the field is a dangerous regression into the pseudo-science of The Secret Life of Plants. The nature of plants as responsive and adaptive beings is not disputed. Plants sense and respond to a long list of stimuli and shifting environmental conditions, including “light, water, gravity, temperature, soil structure, nutrients, toxins, microbes, herbivores, chemical signals from other plants,”[ii] responses which have been explored by Dyer in his broader practice. However, the responsive behaviours of plants to such stimuli and conditions does not reflect our own nervous system, as noted by Lincoln Taiz—a U.C. Santa Cruz emeritus professor of plant physiology—who has stated that those who suggest otherwise are engaging in an “over-interpretation of data, teleology, anthropomorphizing, philosophizing, and wild speculations.”[iii]
Another researcher, plant molecular biologist Stefano Mancuso, has suggested that brains may in fact be a disadvantage for plants due to their immobility.[iv] Being rooted to the ground, plants have developed alternative, unique and sophisticated systems for sustaining and defending themselves while remaining in a fixed location. For example, plants can survive losing up to ninety percent of their body, a highly unique trait. Furthermore, some plants have evolved the ability to produce toxins in their leaves to deter animals from eating them, in some cases even delivering a lethal dose. It has been suggested that farmers may adopt systems such as this in the future as plant-based alternatives to pesticides.
In order to develop these defence mechanisms, plants have evolved senses—including those aligning with our own senses. Michael Pollan states: “Plants have evolved between fifteen and twenty distinct senses, including analogues of our five: smell and taste (they sense and respond to chemicals in the air or on their bodies); sight (they react differently to various wavelengths of light as well as to shadow); touch (a vine or a root ‘knows’ when it encounters a solid object); and, it has been discovered, sound.”[v] However, it is questionable whether the development and use of these senses equates to a type of knowledge or intelligence.
1. The ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situation
2. The skilled use of reason
3. The ability to use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria
Pollan asserts that none of the scientists working in the field of plant intelligence that he has spoken with believe that plants are empathic, or able to communicate, or read minds. Rather, he aligns the type of intelligence that plants exhibit with that of insect colonies, “where it is thought to be an emergent property of a great many mindless individuals organized in a network.”[vi] It may instead be suggested that language is at the core of the intelligence discussion. While plants may exhibit behaviours that we can best understand by aligning them with familiar terms such as intelligence, memory and learning, these terms may be best utilised in relation to creatures with brains, establishing the need for new terms for the arguably similar behaviours observed in plants.
Referring to the knowledge of plants, Dyer has stated, “The knowledge contained within a library is codified, bound within the confines of written language or illustrations—finite. The knowledge in a garden is experiential, subjective, unconstrained but not always accessible.”[vii] However, the aforementioned discussion would suggest that the knowledge of plants is chemical and networked, rather than intuitively experienced by those who are receptive to its interpretation. Dyer’s experiment may not hold its value for participants in an unlocking of the wealth of knowledge to be found in these Philodendra. Rather, its value lies in its consideration of multiple ways of defining and disseminating knowledge, and the questioning of the validity, motivation and exclusions of any form of knowledge repository, whether the traditional archive or the humble houseplant.
[i] Bird, C and Tompkins, P. The Secret Life of Plants. Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1989.
[ii] Pollan, M. ‘The Intelligent Plant.’ The New Yorker. December 23 & 30 Issue, 2013. p. 92
[iii] Lincoln Taiz quoted in ibid. , 94
[iv] Stefano Mancuso quoted in ibid. , 99
[v] Ibid. , 94
[vi] Ibid. , 94
[vii] In email from the artist, June 2016.
Erin Wilson is an arts writer and curator, who studied art theory and curatorship at COFA, UNSW. Erin is currently based in Tasmania where she is Curator of Collections at Devonport Regional Gallery.
Show 7, 2016
By Nicola Bryant
on Alice Duncan
IF YOU SAW THE BACK OF MY HEAD, WOULD YOU ASSUME I HAD A FACE?
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
T.S Eliot, “The Hollow Men”
Alice Duncan’s work explores photography not so much as a lie—photography doesn’t mean to mislead the viewer—but as what Mel Brochner would call a ‘colossal misunderstanding’. When we view photographs, we embed and project; we perceive non-existent narratives; we construct false realities based on pictorial clues of questionable legitimacy. We seek to understand the photograph by creating a story that assimilates the image into our mental schema, and we often don’t linger long enough to question this automatic process and shaky detective work.
Duncan attempts to distance the viewer from the subject-matter of her photographs in order to disable our immediate cognitive responses to the figurative imagery. She does this not by abstraction—photography cannot ever be abstract because it is deictic to a real moment in space-time—but by reiterating the photograph’s materiality. An intaglio print is the product of ink in the crevices of an etched surface transferred to paper; analogue photography receives the light reflected off objects in the camera’s field of view, causing a chemical change to the film inside the camera. The print is to the etched surface as the photograph is to the light in that very specific moment the photograph was ‘conceived’; thus the photograph is indexical. While the eye works in a similar way—processing photons into electrochemical signals that bring forth sight—we must not mistake photography for the act of seeing.
The emphasis in One more time, this time for real, is on the material objects that reference the site represented in the photograph. In Duncan’s work, the photograph extends beyond its border, both supported and negated by the accompanying ‘evidence’ of props (physical objects) that apparently feature in the photograph but don’t really. The soil does not reinforce the photograph’s claim to be real—the soil doesn’t even come from the photographic site. But it looks like it does. Its physical properties embarrass the photograph’s allusion to reality—isn’t a solid rock, after all, realer than a photograph of a rock, even if this rock isn’t the same rock as that one? But the soil, the stones—they are no more a ‘real’ representation of the sites than the photographs. They are so phoney they expose the limits of the photograph—complicit in the deception—as a stand-in for reality. Ironically, it is this deception that reminds the viewer they were deceived in the first place.
The props legitimise the photograph’s claim to a position in space—corporeal space, not heterotopic space—while poking fun at the idea of the gallery site in any way representing a ‘reality’ other than its reality as an exhibition space. To Duncan, the photograph is the starting point for establishing a new space altogether. The photograph is not just a window into another time and place, but an object in its own right, in its own situation right now. The context of the photograph is not in the photograph, but surrounding it. The photograph is not in Japan, the photograph is in SEVENTH. Japan is in the photograph, but Japan is not in SEVENTH.
Duncan shoves us back into a space where our brains are taken off auto-pilot—there will be no swift assimilation of symbol and data into narrative in One more time, this time for real. Instead, we must reign in the assumptions that naturally flood our brains when we view figurative images. In some ways the farce of real rocks posing as real rocks, is a moot point—Duncan creates new and strange spaces which must be navigated as spaces in their own right. The photograph, indexical to the moment it was conceived, is also produced as a thing—an object with its own colour, form, weight, smell, and sound. As such, we must take it as it is and assess it for its formal composition.
Nicola Bryant is an artist, writer, educator, and arts administrator, currently living in Melbourne.
Nicola is interested in the way audiences access art and the role writing plays in audience engagement. While art and language don’t need each other, they work well together—it is this productive relationship that Nicola finds appealing to study.
Show 7, 2016
By Anita Spooner
on Jane Frances Dunlop
Jane Frances Dunlop’s exhibition (tfw) spin measure cut (2016) refers to the Moirai of Greek mythology as a frame to consider relations of human experience and emotion mediated through technology.
In Greek Mythology the Moirai were the incarnations of destiny. They directed fate. Clotho, the spinner, spun the thread of life; Lachesis, the allotter, measured the thread of life; Atropos, the unturnable, cut the thread of life.
I look at Jane’s work through physical and digital space. From SEVENTH Gallery, across the Pacific Ocean, satellites, cables, two desktops and three windows. Space collapses between us; a presence through a large distance. My screen is charged with artificial white light. It hums in 0s and 1s. This is the stage for my experience of Jane’s video and soon, her performance. This is how we relate.
Jane’s videos are a triptych of woven images that overlap each other like textiles. The first is for Clotho, the spinner. We see a performance of dancers clothed as swans, woven with a documentation of the production of a fiber optic cable. The second is for Lachesis, the allotter. A pelican colony is woven with a representation of an unidentified future-city. The third is for Atropos, the unturnable. For her, Jane has woven a human heart surgery with a flower factory.
I can’t see the images together coherently. I squint and focus on each intractable line. My thoughts disperse through two hemispheres of my mind—the left side of logic, the right side of creativity. The meanings swirl around me. Each scene enacts an organic or mechanical action. A beating heart; a complex, functional system to bear our most irrational expression. A fiber optic cable to channel human intimacy. Each action is connected through a tension between a totality and its parts. The scenes unravel independently, and also in unison.
For the Moirai, time is mechanical. The Moirai quantify, manipulate, conquer. They personify a human impulse to abstract: a bead on a string, a grain of sand, a sundial, astrology, physics, quantum mechanics, philosophy. An infinite regress of abstraction.
I was socialised into the Information Age, an age of binary logic. It is the logic that our language is built on and our means to relate our subjective experience. We analyse, we look for forms, we format. We chat. We expand and contract windows. We live a mediated consciousness. We dream in status updates.
Jane announces, “This is a performance”. A performance is an action that requires an audience and also a level of premeditation. It is an action of the present, premeditated in the past. Jane performs online with a technology of the future. For Jane, time travels along fiber optic cables. It informs algorithmically designed futures. It also expands and contracts through emotion. Time slows and speeds up as it is subjectively felt. Jane falls into the future through this dissonant temporality.
Thinking about the thread of life I return to a truism: the knowledge that we are all going to die. The emotion that leaks from that knowledge is too much to comprehend. It’s the ultimate anxiety born from collisions of feelings thought and ideas felt.
A vanguard: spin, measure, cut.
Anita Spooner writes, curates and produces work in the field of art and moving image. She is director of Interval, a new platform for documentary art.
Show 6, 2016
By Marisa Georgiou
on Madeline Bishop and Leela Schauble’s Taken Spaces
Like many critical social discourses, environmental criticism in art has gone through its own evolutions and ‘waves’, the implications of the term ‘environmental art’ broadening considerably in contemporary conversation. When we used to talk about the ‘environment’ it would simply connote the ‘natural environment’. However, environmental criticism’s working conception of “environment” has branched out to also include “the urban, the interweave of “built” and “natural” dimensions in every locale, and the interpenetration of the local by the global.”[i]
To explore environmental relations in such malleable and connected ways is important. Ecofeminist philosopher Val Plumwood speaks of how the environment is too often “backgrounded” in most Western perspectives; seen as the antithesis to reason and culture as it was simply always “there”. Too often, it is treated as timeless, unchanging and separate. It is seen as a “limitless provider without needs of its own”, with our extreme level of dependency and connection to it wholly denied.[ii]
As do artists who work within feminist, queer or indigenous themes, among others, ecocritical artists can use subjective experience as a tool to unsettle normative thinking about the environment, and social-environmental status quos. Ecocritic Lawrence Buell emphasises that Place consciousness, or feeling bonded to a Place, involves not just physical/spatial orientation, but temporal and imaginative orientation also.[iii] These understandings underpin Leela Schauble and Madeline Bishop’s grasp of Place as something which is defined socially and canonically, but ultimately remains at the whims of individual subjective experience,[iv] and the way that environments, themselves, change. This exhibition, Taken Spaces, demonstrates some of the intricacies and limitations of feeling bonded to Place on multiple compounding levels.
Leela Schauble’s work Landing (2016) directly addresses the complexities of visiting, understanding and inhabiting a new environment, utilising sound and digital manipulations to refocus our sensory relationship with Place. It is filmed in the Arctic Circle, where she recently spent time on residency during the Autumn season. Here, she went through the process of conducting “landings” every day, in preparation to explore the environment for the first time. Through this, she was able to experience the process of creating Place consciousness and bonding on a geographical ‘blank canvas’ (at least as ‘blank’ as is possible).
In the work, video footage of figures conducting these landings is superimposed with ambiguous black shapes that obscure the environment. One wonders whether they are topographical shapes from a map, or the way clusters of ice caps melt over time. By the end of the film it evolves to become a rectangular “manufactured” shape which begins to dominate and become the focus of the landscape, like a portal. Nevertheless, its impenetrable grey surface still does not invite entry. With the realisation that this harsh environment is ultimately unable to support their presence, or human narrative, in the long term, Schauble asks questions about whether a deep or complete understanding of Place is possible at all.
Bishops’ images speak about the long-term temporal dimension of place-attachment through the use of nostalgia and narrative. Couched in direct personal experience, many of the photographs were taken on a visit to Canberra where the artist grew up. Those titled In theory I knew it was coming (2016) depict ubiquitous government housing flats on one of the main roads, which made up part of her daily experience as she passed them on the way to school. On return, they had since been emptied and prepared for demolition. With other titles such as I thought I heard your voice (2016) and I still expect to see you unexpectedly (2016), she talks of the transience of human presence and how individuals can (perceptibly or imperceptibly) influence urban and natural environments as they pass through. They purposefully show only traces of human inhabitancy, but no figures, inviting flexible interpretation, and drawing focus to evidence of time passing and Places in flux.
In these images, natural phenomena act as signifiers of this temporality: the way that early morning sun filters into a room, dawn mist in the park obscuring the vision, the way that all the trees have been blown so consistently in one direction so that they all lean slightly left; these collections of images revel in liminal space, illustrating the capacity for physical and psychical space to be represented as one. Perhaps they are less separate than is commonly portrayed.
It is widely understood that our foundational, initial or childhood experiences of Place, and the memories of that, affect one’s response to wherever they have been since;[v] that we can never relate to Place without any preconceived expectations. However, this is made more complicated when we take into account that places change as well, in a way that is perhaps counterintuitive to how one implicitly desires foundations to be. The way we relate to environments is not just reliant on physical orientation but psychical orientation too, and is exceedingly unstable. Through the lens of subjective experience, these artists show that environments, just like the people who inhabit or pass through them, are not “entative”, but always “in-process”.
[i] Buell, Lawrence. The Future of Environmental Criticism. Blackwell Manifestos. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005, 12.
[ii] Plumwood, Val. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. Feminism for Today. edited by Teresa Brennan London: Routledge, 1993, 21.
[iii] Buell, 2005, 72.
[iv] Ibid. 74.
[v] Ibid. 73.
Marisa Georgiou is an inter-disciplinary artist, critical writer and student of embodied performance strategies, interested in bodily sensation and our relationship to ‘nature’, in connection to wider feminist/political discourses.
Marisa completed her Bachelor of Fine Art (Hons) in 2015, where she researched the potentials of an ethical visual approach to Landscape, and she recently presented her research for LEVEL ARI.
Marisa’s words have been featured in local and national publications including Artlink, Common Ground Journal, and The Equal Standard, and she has written for both commercial and artist-run spaces, such as Spiro Grace Art Rooms, The Hold Artspace and others.