George Paton Gallery – Writing Project
A collaboration with ACP Projects
In Semester Two, 2017, emerging student writers have been paired with an exhibition at the George Paton Gallery, and have created a piece of writing to accompany the show. Each student has met with the artist or curator of the exhibition to exchange and discuss ideas, this dialogue forming the basis of their text that is available in the GPG, and online.
EXHIBITION DATES: 18 – 26 October 2017
Entrance and Main Gallery
Exchange exhibition with Verge Gallery, University of Sydney Student Union
Curated by Upasana Papadopoulos and Tama Woodbury, University of Sydney
On July 1, 2017, the Sydney College of the Arts was nominally incorporated as a department, into the University of Sydney Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Its studios and classrooms, currently in Lilyfield, will be replaced at the start of 2019 by those at the main Camperdown/Darlington campus. More than half of the school’s academic and professional jobs will be made redundant.
Colour, light, shape – and particularly, their absence – speak volumes in James Thomson’s work. But why, the artist asks of the viewer, are these elements in the place they are? In Thomson’s artworks A New Brushstroke and It’s Not All Bad, he posits the evasive question of space and its allocation. One might ask of their composition: why must blue be where it is? Why must it take up no more space than red?
Staff were warned against speaking out by the dean of the SCA. The justification for the merger was, as the University Economic Model explains, due to new considerations about the space-efficiency of teaching. As the new location does not have enough room for students to maintain permanent workspaces, they must instead, “hotdesk”. Several large-scale and resource-intensive programs have been cut entirely from the college’s curriculum, including ceramics, jewellery and glassmaking.
Eros is Eros, deceptively simple, appears from a distance almost random. Billowy, fluid, and entropic, the orange streaks, graffiti-like, capture something primal and transient. There are hints of a ribcage or an animal’s claw; it feels representative of an irreducible urge to express. The impasto strokes are textured and weathered, as if an ancient fresco, and the canvas hangs bare and tapestry-like. The white brushstrokes whirl away from the orange streaks; smoke-like, and into the open air.
“Management is not interested in having an art school,” said Suzy Faiz during the protests against relocation. Students alleged a $45 million effective subsidy for the Lilyfield campus was deceptively omitted from the university’s plan. A former Associate Professor at the SCA accused the University of Sydney of deliberately making the college financially unsustainable. SCA students occupied the top floor of an administration building for 65 days, until they were forcibly evicted by police.
Suzy Faiz, working in collage, evokes a sense of being lost within incomprehensible geography. Paradoxically agoraphobic and claustrophobic, contrasting map-like forms with the human figure, Faiz draws attention to the disorienting opposition between our space and ourselves.
Faiz’ 24 collages in The Vienna Diaries resist instant interpretation. Individual symbols and icons are recognisable, but their combination seems, on the surface, haphazard. The small size of each piece demands close inspection, and a recognition that each part exists within a larger whole. Like the Dada collages of the early 20th century, The Vienna Diaries reflects the irony of trying to make sense of the world’s senseless construction.
The original plan for the SCA’s Lilyfield campus included the Sydney Conservatorium and other arts institutions and organisations. This failed to materialise. Some students from other University of Sydney faculties supported the merger. Some argued it would create closer relationships between fine arts and the humanities. Others argued conglomeration would impact on how art is made and perceived – it would become more conceptual, perhaps, or less audience-friendly.
Kath Fries’ installations and sculpture capture what the artist sees as a destruction of community. The honeycomb metaphor is present in each work – communal, productive, efficient, and distinctly natural. The traditional manmade apiary is absent, replaced instead by organic, self-sufficient construction. In Morph, like Sylvia Plath’s metaphor of the beehive, the use of honeycomb represents the idea of an enclosed, internal world. This idea is explored in Reservations; wherein fragile glass and beeswax balls rest atop a plinth, conveying an instinctive anxiety about their potential fall. Divest, a seemingly decaying pile of beeswax and dust, superficially appears to be an infestation; neglected, inherently revulsive, pushed into a corner in some misguided attempt to control it.
The Old Teachers’ College and Badham building at the University of Sydney’s main campus will be repurposed to accommodate SCA students. “[We are] committed to ongoing excellence in visual arts education and research,” the University stated, “and we believe our plan will support this goal in a way that preserves SCA’s distinctive qualities.” Though it retains its name, after the commencement of Semester One, 2019, the SCA will no longer occupy its own discrete space.
Isolation Superhighway, Rorschach-like, swirls and confounds its foregrounded subject. Bethan Cotterill’s video projection is instinctively malicious, casting a sinister intrusion into the familiar, domestic space. Yet it resists concrete recognition: the feeling Cotterill draws out of the audience is the fear of the unknown. A hand with painted nails, the hint of an arm, perhaps a necklace – armed with mostly context clues, the anomalous apparition with its tempestuous edges is terrifying.
Neither students nor staff know exactly what the effects of relocation will be. There is a sense that the logistical demands of removal and their emotional impact are foregrounded in the students’ minds. Without explicit direction from the curators, the artists in this exhibition have made this clear.
Szymon Doralbialski’s work in varied mixed media tends to involve the juxtaposition of natural elements with man-made. In One and Three States: one and two, the artist imposes acrylic and gloss enamel shapes on roughly-hewn pinebark; with Pewnk-Speil’s delicately dangled perspex shards, he contrasts the decorative with the utilitarian; the modern with the primitive; and the shaped with the grown. The artwork perhaps encourages us to consider our relationship with the natural world; how we use it, and where we exist within it.
A University of Sydney online news article from August, on the topic of innovative teaching space, begins:
“Ever wondered what it would be like to step into a living cell?”
– Alex Epstein
EXHIBITION DATES: 4 – 13 October 2017
The following text was written by Ada Coxall, currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne.
We look but we often do not see. Alex Selenitsch helps make us see what has always been there, in this exhibition at the George Paton Gallery. He uses his ATMOSPHERES – air, smoke, mirror, cloud, mist, haze, fog – to bring our attention to form, where we usually take form for granted, while praising the meaning the words contain. Selenitsch does not merely use words; he analyzes them. He becomes the critic that we refuse to be in our day-to-day lives.
We see these words – air, smoke, mirror, cloud, mist, haze, fog – on the walls of the gallery. Yet, our recognition immediately becomes confusion, as Selenitsch prompts us to see from a different, distorted, perspective. In ATMOSPHERES he pulls apart each individual component of the words’ form, giving each letter its due regard. These lettered forms assail our senses; they confuse and muddle our perception of the word as whole. The ‘i’ of ‘air’ takes precedence and creates the form of the work, dominating the space while eluding description and functionality. The word ‘air’ loses its authority, and becomes secondary to the inherent formal potentialities of its parts.
Form is the focus, or it is at least the starting point. The medium already attempts to dictate the form of the work, with its margins, spacing, letter size and types. The works in ATMOSPHERES are in a standard format, an A4 sheet on a word processing program, and are printed through a standard printer. Anyone can use this medium, and we do so on a day-to-day basis, yet, Selenitsch gives the processor an alter ego through his use – or rather, misuse – of it. Selenitsch works within the boundaries of the medium, yet he pushes and manipulates to show unusual and inconceivable forms. He does no more than what we usually do, regurgitating letters onto a page, yet he simultaneously goes beyond the mundane as he finds the potential in words and letters to make forms for themselves, as apart from their descriptive functions. The words and letters on the page embody both units of language and the articulation of the inherent forms within the language. We recognise that we are not reading the words as descriptions of things, but seeing our act of reading.
Repetition sticks with us as we read, the same material reproduced again and again, weaving the pattern into our minds, making the thread tighter and tighter. Selenitsch takes repetition to its extreme, the focus being a singular word, or even a singular letter. The repetition heightens our awareness of our acts of reading; just as repeating any word again and again brings our attention to our act of speaking. Selenitsch urges you to analyze and critique your act of reading, how it can be slowed down, tested and pushed to its limits. Through this process he brings you to a necessary gulf of meaning, where meaning is defocused, where recognition of form shows the ephemerality of language.
Selenitsch finds the poetry in his ATMOSPHERES – air, smoke, mirror, cloud, mist, haze, fog – rather than creates it. The potential of the words has always been there, it only takes a different vantage point to reveal the fallibilities in language and the power in form. We are asked to look closer at the fabric of language, and see how the weaves and stiches of form are holding everything together. It only takes analysis – unpicking the threads – to see how easily language can fall apart. The exercise is innately thought provoking, yet diffuses more meaning than it provides. We ponder our relationship to language, and it’s relationship towards us, yet we are left feeling like we are still stuck in a haze, looking at forms through fog.
– Ada Coxall
EXHIBITION DATES: 4 – 13 October 2017
POETRY: a text and word-based exhibition
Curated by Sandra Bridie
The following text was written by Amelia Walters, currently studying a Bachelor of Arts and Concurrent Diploma of Languages (French) at the University of Melbourne.
a reflection on the space of POETRY
The poems in the gallery read themselves. Read each other. Host slam-poetry contests and rearrange each other’s letters into calligrammes and unbury exquisite corpses.
The walls listen. Voices without lungs, reverberate off them soundless.
Reading is silent and it makes the space feel empty. But poems are reaching out, enveloping viewers and then expanding onwards, and there has never been a space more full than here.
Stanza (Italian n. a room)
POETRY is room-building. Worded-walls and margins. This is the syntax of poetic space.
Poïesis (Greek v. to make) is the foundation for POETRY, the floor upon which its rooms are built. A productive action that transforms and continues the world. A continuous creating once it has begun.
POETRY is space-making and home-coming.
Stō (Latin v. to stand; to be [located at]; the root of stanza)
POETRY resists locality. It exists neither as space, nor place – but as their binding. Holding its content, the reader, and all external to it, woven in verse. The poems furnish the space for bodies, create a place for them. Somewhere to sit awhile before the next train.
Stanza (Italian n. a stopping-place; a station)
POETRY only exists between stanzas. At the station, waiting. In the enjambment, before the end-stop.
Words move bodies through space – each line and indent moves the body. We do not move ourselves. We are displaced, departing. Bodies become text and text becomes bodies. There is skin and page. Then just breath. This is the poetic act.
Intersistereium (Latin v. to stand between; an interstice)
The personal is environmental: POETRY is an exhibition of inner geometry, growing organs and ecosystems. Text prints upon the retina, spoken word writes upon skin.
This is the stanza of the self. An interstice. A state of being opened onto the world and finding it doing the same. The space is noisy, not from words spoken, but bodies’ musings and texts reading. Everything is absorbed in the act of producing. We are full of language.
And when all poems have been read, we step across the homely threshold and reach the non-enjambed. POETRY has made enough space today and welcomed so many tenants. The last room has been visited and the visitors slowly trickle out. Going to the place they are from.
A new silence falls of something complete. A new listening, not quite empty.
There is an echo (Ancient Greek ēkhē n. a sound).
EXHIBITION DATES: 13-22 September 2017
The Course of Things
The following text was written by Zhen Li, currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne.
The Course of Things
The Course of Things explores the relationship between chance, cause and effect, and the incompatibility between determinist and indeterminist theories. Deterministic theory argues that all events are dictated by causes regarded as external to free will, while indeterminism insists that not all events are wholly determined by traceable causes. This incompatibility is discussed in German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, in which he states ‘Causality in accordance with laws of nature is not the only one from which all the appearances of the world can be derived. It is also necessary to assume another causality through freedom in order to explain them.’ In other words, chance always plays a role, and the existence of chance is something that Megan Kennedy attempts to explore in her art practice, as she asks: when we acknowledge the broader flow of cause and effect between the materials and the environment within the gallery space, what do we still consider to be chance based? The Course of Things is her latest experiment, in which she seeks to facilitate an action that hovers between something perceivably chance-based and something that is deterministic.
The Course of Things is an installation comprised of an assortment of fragile objects made of glass and ceramic that have been precariously placed on the edge of narrow wooden pillars. Visually the arrangement resembles a series of large matchsticks, and thus indicates potential danger. As the audience walks around the work, the vibrations caused by each step runs the risk of causing one of the objects to topple to the ground and break. In the arrangement of the work, even though the probability of one of the objects falling and breaking seems likely, the question of when, why and how this will occur can only be answered by the audience experiencing the work. This potential to change throughout the exhibition makes it a time-based installation, and implicates the viewer as they might be the one to cause the change. This uncertainty and unpredictability are crucial to the exhibition, as the artist states, ‘There is no set end result for this installation. There is no script and I don’t know what will happen. This work was conceived through contemplating the nature of chance.’
Kennedy’s interest in movement, physics and science was ignited by her previous work as a personal trainer in a gym. When making fitness plans for customers, she would use different body configurations to produce varied effects on skeletomuscular interactions, in a similar way to random participles like atoms producing a predictable result when put together. The question of whether such results could be caused by chance continues as a point of interest for the artist. To explore the relationship between the objects and the external environment, Kennedy creates artworks that investigate the use of chance operations in art practices.
In The Course of Things, Kennedy creates two likely situations to further stimulate the speculation of audiences. In the first situation, the viewer encounters the installation before anything has fallen. It is a tense situation because they do not know if the falling and breaking is part of the work, and therefore may try to tread lightly in the space. In this instance, a psychological imagination space is created for the viewer, as they are made aware of their role within the outcome of the installation – that their actions may bring consequences. With this cognition, they may act purposely to actively interact with the artwork. In the second situation, when there are objects that have already fallen and broken, the viewer may feel anxious and ponder ‘what made that fall? Was that meant to fall?’ In these two situations, the audience has an embodied experience of the installation alongside a feeling of guilt should they cause an object to fall. As a result, the linear narrative, that of the viewer entering the gallery, experiencing the work and then exiting, is broken. Instead, the narrative is dependent on the viewer’s participation and thus further evokes their thought on the interconnected relationship between themselves and the surroundings.
In Kennedy’s work she strives to create a scenario for tension and chaos. More specifically, she is creating a finely planned installation that contains a high level of unpredictability. However, she does not aim at lobbying viewers with any certain conclusion. Instead, she remains neutral to the presupposed question: ‘Does chance always play a role in the process-oriented artwork or can results be explained by causality?’ By leading an open-ended process, Kennedy initiates an interaction between the viewer and the artwork, placing their movement as an essential factor in her artwork. In this way, she acts as a guide, setting the question but leaving the answer for the viewer to encounter.
By Zhen Li
By All Mens
Artists: Kirsten Lyttle, Lara Chamas, T.R. Carter and Stephen Gilette,
Peter Waples-Crowe, Samuel Condon, and Arie Rain Glorie
Writers: Amelia Winata, Neika Lehman, Karen Maeda, Danielle Toua,
Hannan Al Daqqa and Ella Shi
Curated by Chiara Scafidi
The following text was written by Wendy Downs, currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at the University of Melbourne.
By All Mens with fresh eyes
‘Lisa: It’s awful being a kid. No one listens to you.
Grampa: It’s rotten being old. No one listens to you.
Homer: I’m a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me — no matter how dumb my suggestions are!’
—Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy, The Simpsons
Frequent visits to the National Gallery of Victoria never fail to remind curator Chiara Scafidi of the fact that most of the artworks gracing the gallery walls were made by white European male artists. These visits demonstrate the ongoing reign of the white male, a position of dominance that pervades both history and contemporary society as ‘an invisible seat of power’. By All Mens aims to expose the insidious nature of such dominance by critiquing aspects of the white male within an exhibition context. Scafidi also chose to appraise this exhibition idea from an Australian perspective. Through bringing together a group of marginalised and underrepresented local artists and writers of varied ethnic backgrounds and sexualities in the George Paton Gallery, we are presented with an impressive collection of works that grapple with the exhibition’s themes from myriad perspectives – both personal and imagined.
Australia’s cultural legacy of colonisation and imperialism has shaped our nation’s notion of white masculinity. It is a story that speaks of the robust, self-determining, white Australian pioneer/settler/bushman battling to tame the harsh environment through toil, hardship and endeavour, who legitimises his masculinity through the solid bonds of mateship. Such romanticisation of the mythological Australian male figure is epitomised in Tom Robert’s iconic late nineteenth century painting, Shearing the Rams, an archetypal portrayal of Australian pastoral life during the burgeoning wool industry that recognises and celebrates the value of strong masculine work. Such powerful images have helped fashion a dichotomy of gender and reinforce a national identity.
By designing an exhibition around this notion of white masculinity, Scafidi plays with the art historical idea of ‘the male gaze’, a phrase coined by British feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey in her 1975 essay, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. In this seminal work Mulvey proposes that the gaze of the movie camera represents the collective viewpoint of the male heterosexual director. Adopted by art historical discourse, this term has been employed to highlight the dominance of the male as onlooker/voyeur and the female as object. By All Mens reverses this gaze so that the white heterosexual male becomes the object of the exhibition, to be critiqued by the exhibiting writers and artists as they exchange their position in society from excluded other to observer.
The participating artists in By All Mens employ a range of mediums and imagery to explore the historical understanding of the Australian white male. Samuel Condon offers three untitled works: a drawing that encapsulates the quintessential image of the Australian drover, and two paintings, one of an early Australian settlement town and the other an image of a classical sculpture inspired by a mid-19th century bronze statue, Lion attacking a horse (Cheval surpris par un lion) by French artist Antoine-Louis Barye. These works seem to reference the power and dominance of our colonial history and the notions of hierarchy within all echelons of human endeavour.
Moreover, in a selection of photographic works from the 2015 series, He Was an Alien in the Pacific, Māori artist Kristen Lyttles explores the theme of colonisation and the notion of ‘other’ by rendering the explorer Captain James Cook as the outsider figure in an imagined first contact with the Indigenous Pacific Islanders.
The installation work by Lebanese-Australian artist Lara Charmas is an ironic take on the understanding of the white male authority figure that plagues our collective history. Modelled on an award she won for academic excellence, Charmas presents a series of chocolate medals wrapped in gold foil featuring the face of venerated World War One Australian commander, John Monash. Her work critiques our cultural understanding of the image of the ‘heroic’ white male as a symbol of success and achievement.
In addition, the exhibition offers a range of multimedia works that interrogate the notion of the white male. The playful video installation by Arie Rain Glorie depicts a man staring at his own reflection as he dances with a mirror to Frank Sinatra’s song, Around the World. As one watches the man waltz with himself, it is hard not to view the work as a comment on the centrality of the western white male in both his own life and within the wider community. In the collaborative video work DIRTY DEEDS, DONE DIRT CHEAP, artists T.R. Carter and Stephen Gilette make reference to the Australian pioneer and his formation of identity with the land through its depiction of two figures shovelling red dirt into a ute and doing paddock burnouts, actions that symbolise our collective understanding of the quintessential white Australian male.
Ngarigo artist Peter Waples-Crowe is well versed in his experience of intersectionality. As an Indigenous and queer artist he understands the social and economic marginalisation that arises from bearing such multiple identity labels in a society that privileges the Western white male and suppresses all other positions. In this exhibition Waples-Crowe presents several impressive works from his Jus’ Sayin’ series that are representative of the interplay between sexuality, race and culture and highlight the complexity of the human disposition.
The female writers participating in this exhibition self-identify as people of colour, a term that expresses their diverse ethnic backgrounds and experiences of difference. Scafidi gave the writers freedom to respond to the exhibition theme in their own way, asking only that they confine their words to a piece of A4 paper. Scafidi’s rationale for inviting the writers was twofold: to provide an array of insightful responses to the notion of white masculinity and to provide the audience with a creative interpretation of the exhibition theme that can be used as a guide to view the artworks.
The resulting works vary in style but are all poignant in their message about exclusion and cultural difference. The personal piece by Karen Maeda offers an account of her experience with racial vilification, while Ella Shi presents an informative essay on identity politics and the notion of whiteness as a socially constructed ideology that determines boundaries for exclusion. Danielle Toua retells her experience at the doctor’s through a satirical mansplaining anecdote, while Amelia Winata comments wryly on the disparity of power between the genders in an amusing piece, (White) Men in Art History.
Works that highlight differences in cultural attitudes and mores are introduced by Indigenous Australian writer Neika Lehman and Hanann Al Daqqa, a writer of Palestinian heritage. Lehman’s poem, Two Modern Ways, conveys the disparate cultural understandings of death and loss between the Indigenous peoples and the white man, while Al Daqqa’s creative piece, Please Tell Me Who I Am: A White Male, An Arabic Male in a Guided Conversation, illustrates the deeply incongruous attitudes held by two culturally different males on matters of love and life. Despite the writers’ varied styles, form and tone, what is distinct to all is the notion of the pervasive dominance of the white man and the feeling of ‘otherness’ for all who sit outside this category.
During second-wave feminist critical thinking in the 1960s and 70s new measures of womanhood and femininity introduced by academics such as Germaine Greer intended to deconstruct prevailing paradigms of female submissiveness and male dominance. Yet, the role of the white male has remained largely stalwart as an repressive othering device of influence, status and sexual prowess, creating a continual imbalance of power that demarcates not only gender relations, but relations between different groups of men. Renowned English artist and cross dresser Grayson Perry in his 2014 article, The Straight, White, Middle-Class Man Needs to Be Dethroned, proposes the need for greater critical discourse around the historically unchallenged classic white heterosexual male. By All Mens is thus an important continuation of the interrogation of the paradigm of the white male for it affords, through creative endeavour, a revisiting and rewriting of existent ideas.
The notion of gender is temporally contingent on social and cultural expectation and fashioned by historical sympathies and political motivations. When intertwined with notions of race and class, perceptions of gender become more potent in their ability to categorize and classify, as well as create or withhold opportunity. As the idea of gender continues its journey, the realisation in contemporary society is that what it means to be male or female is an exceedingly complex proposition. This state of play makes an exhibition such as By All Mens relevant in its attempt to destabilise the notion of white masculinity and champion gender, not as a non-negotiable paradigm, but rather as a complex and fluid construct.
 Chiara Scafidi, interview with Wendy Downs, Friday 1st August 2017.
 See Linzi Murrie (1998), ‘The Australian legend: Writing the Australian Masculinity/writing ‘Australian’ masculine’, Journal of Australian Studies, 22:56, 68-77.
EXHIBITION DATES: 30 August – 8 September 2017
Parameters / Frameworks
Soma, Andrea Beck, Pattie Beerens, Evgenia Brodsky, John Canty, Zoe Clark, Elizabeth Cole, Alex Dillon, Noni Drew, Sandy Dunne, Robyn Eastgate, Ember Fairbairn, Georgia Herrod, Monique Jedwab, Emma Lamb, Ginny Laver, Martin Lee, Priya Namana, Hoa Nguyen, Gigi Panopoulos, David Porteus, Britt Putland, Marium Quettawala, Katie Stackhouse, Marlee Tant, Peter Toyne, Rebecca Willcox, Sandy Yates
Coordinators: Kate Just, Tully Moore, Veronica Kent, John Meade, Nadine Christensen
Twenty eight students undertaking the Graduate Certificate in Visual Art at VCA were given a 600 x 400mm plywood board. They could use the board as a basis for painting, sculpture, performance and more. This exhibition reveals their investigations of limits and possibilities.
The following text was composed by Danny Baulch, currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne.
I once had an experimental fiction teacher called Ania. She was a tiny woman bristling with energy, who carried a green schoolbag with her to every class she taught. Sometimes I’d bump into her in the corridor and she would shake her head and begin lamenting the endangered state of the arts in Australia. Once, she told me she believed in reincarnation and wanted to be reborn as Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Ania writes in an unnerving, fragmentary style. When she performed her prose work in class at the end of semester, it was like hearing someone’s sub-thoughts spoken aloud. Her work draws on that grey zone between dream and conscious thought; a domain of the mind you’d think inherently impossible to articulate in written form. ‘i begin i begin to i begin to dream i dream what i begin say say what you see’ – so begins her first line in Palace of Culture.
Her approach to teaching reflected the unsettling boundarylessness characteristic of her works. She had a democratic attitude to the various genres and styles of her students’ pieces. Being in her class was like walking into a space where all fixed categories were suspended and floating, where we were given room to simply write what came to mind.
She encouraged us to engage with texts and ideas at a subterranean level, to respond to prompts through fantastical, often unintelligible imagery in free-flow writing exercises. The only limitation was that of pen and paper. The first piece I wrote in this stream of consciousness mode became the blueprint for my first published short story. It was exciting to participate in the everyday enigma of these lessons.
After impromptu hallway conversations with Ania about looming cultural crises, I’d often walk up to the tram stop smiling to myself at her contradictions. Ania’s concern for the cultural impoverishment of our community seemed only to further fuel her creative energies.
Anyone who has had the privilege of listening to Ania speak about writing, art, culture or anything at length, would know that the somersaulting imaginative connections she makes between one idea and the next sooner or later come to a crashing halt at the foot of more pragmatic concerns: money. Ania could read out a passage from a book, produce an interpretation of the text that was exhilarating in it’s unorthodox brilliance, only to throw it to the wind by despairing how little the author had profited from their creations (with a twinkle in her eye)!
This tendency in Ania became a point of endearment for us students, even while it puzzled me. It made me consider how many times I’ve told myself the obstacle preventing me from cleaning the dishes/answering an email/finishing a research essay was external and not internal. It made me think of the ease with which people seem to limit themselves by talking about each other like we are biological specimens; our abilities subject to innate, naturally occurring restrictions: ‘She is so smart…I don’t have the talent for it.’ I’ve started wondering how often I have drawn on this conventionally masculine (?) way of regarding the world and myself, where everything is fixed into neat, unambiguous binaries and orderly systems. ‘Natural’ has a meaning that is so insidious and pervasive.
I wish I could have stayed a student in Ania’s class, forever.
EXHIBITION DATES: 16-25 August 2017
The Lurid World
Tori Adams, Haydn Allen, Lief Chan, Serena Cowie, Marley Holloway-Clarke,
Amie Green and Lara Navarro
Curated by Jasmin McNeill, Mudfest Visual Arts Creative Producer
The Lurid World celebrates cross-disciplinary visual artists as part of Mudfest 2017. Under the theme of HATCH, this year Mudfest asks the question “How do we respond to an increasingly frightening world?”
The following text was written by Sundaresh Gurumurthy, a student at the Melbourne Business School.
The world and beyond
Over the centuries you have courted us all, from Cavemen to Millennials. You remain enigmatic and omnipresent, metamorphosing over centuries. A necessity of life, I wonder. Evolving into increasingly complex forms, conquer one only to unleash many more.
I wake up in your embrace, fearing the ever-moving time
I run through the daily grind, fearful of life ahead
I walk with my love, in fear of being rejected or worse – bored
Even on my death bed, fear engulfing me as I struggle till dead
Cancerous pervasive Fear, married we are ‘til death do us part.
The lurid world, blood red with hate crimes,
Dazzling in radioactivity, awash with greed.
The lurid world, glimmering with hope,
Soaked in emotions, burning with ambition.
EXHIBITION DATES: 2-11 August 2017
Space, Time and Rock ‘n’ Roll
What happens when you grow up and your bedroom band posters are replaced with pop science books? Space, Time and Rock ‘n’ Roll explores the art of fangirling in a mashup of bedroom rock culture and pop science. It poses the big questions of what is time, and where does it actually go?
tear-out posters of Linkin Park taped to your bedroom wall
torn out articles from The Age in your desk
buy the latest single
don’t buy into the latest health trend
it’s like having your eyes opened again in a different way
i look to these people as an authority on truth
tell me how the world works
tell me how i work
EXHIBITION DATES: 2-11 August 2017|
Nick James Archer, Louis Cooper, Vi Macdonald,
Kiah Pullens and Rachel Walker
Curated by Nick James Archer
METASITE enacts a series of gestures, reacting to the functional site within the George Paton Gallery. Five photography-based artists create works with the aim to retrace and react to the resonances within the site. Image, sound and sculptural-based strategies are enacted to create a dialogue between the work and its environment.
Spaces Within Spaces
By Tessa Megenis
She walks, as if in a dream, along a busy street, but doesn’t feel anything, letting the sounds and colours of the city wash over her. She almost misses the sign of the gallery, but her eyes notice it just as she is about to walk on to nowhere in particular.
She stands in the entrance to the gallery and immediately feels the silence, the tranquillity of the space. She enters the exhibition and is enveloped by a sense of calm. She walks around the exhibition, looking at each piece of art, lingering over small, but significant details. She stands at the side of the space and silently admires the exhibition’s beauty, its quiet, minimalistic beauty that allows each piece of art to be appreciated within the space. A moment passes, and then, completely naturally, she feels the resonances of the interior space. Her thoughts turn to the exterior space outside, and how she didn’t feel any resonances there.
More time passes, and she thinks of spaces within spaces, of its metaphysical qualities, compelling and intriguing. As she stands in the middle of the exhibition and turns her head to look at a piece of art, like a bird arching its neck, she thinks of the exhibition as being meta in its own way, a meta-site, containing spaces within spaces that are conceptually romantic and sublime. She walks around the exhibition one last time and realises that the space is effectively simple. There is power in its simplicity.
Leaving, she feels a sense of peace and clarity of thought. As she walks outside to the exterior space of the city street, her bones miss the resonances from the exhibition, its perfect calm and symmetry within the interior space, its space within a space.
She walks on to nowhere in particular, as if in a dream, and thoughts of the exhibition enter her consciousness, as she becomes lost amongst city life.