Saturday, May 27, 2006

3x3 = 6 degrees of seperation (exhibit 1)

What: Exhibition of artworks @ allans walk
Artists: Hayley West, Mark Misic, Elka Kerkhofs and Catriona Stanton.
When: 2 May – 27th May 2006.

Artist Talk: 24th May 12pm

During May, Allan’s Walk was home to Darwin Visual Arts Association showcasing NT artists. Hayley West, the Association’s coordinator, visited for one week and presented an engaging discussion regarding collaborative practice and art residencies.

Tara Gilbee, head of artist group, is to take artist's work on exchange from Central Victorian to the Darwin Visual Arts Association in October 2006.

Both these artists are curating an exchange which explores and ideas around 'degrees of association'.

This blog journals individual and collaborative relationships between the differing environments the artists live within and the manner in which they interpret the world.

Review of allans walk show: Tara Gilbee


This review is to some degree sited in my process of engagement with the art works as much as the actual artist’s intention. Responding to the works arrival, my personal experience and then the works as a whole installation. Fragile – imagine the sticker on the package you receive, imagine the nature of personal engagement, imagine the tentative relationship we have with memory, imagine the liminal space of beginnings and endings. These are some of the thoughts that I found bound together the group of works.

I requested Hayley West a member of artist group to work with me on the language of our association and/or separation as individuals as well as artists practicing in two distinct environments. Living at opposites ends of our country. Hayley curated three works around the theme of the artist groups title and the particular motive ‘degrees of separation’. We also opened an online studio, keeping a blog journal that explored visual exchange and personal language. We opened this space to look at how we might influence and respond to our visual landscapes - externally and internally, what is particular or similar within each other. We did this as a month long experiment which we have now embraced to continue.

Fragility was very present in the nature of the art works, the language of interpersonal connection and cultural understanding.

Catriona Stanton sent her work to me on a thin time line, would it arrive in time to be installed, where was it, would it be lost in transit and when I did receive it - would it be intact? Catriona’s work is made out of toothpicks you see, delicately constructed pieces which made a sublime installation. I had pictures to cause this trepidation, as a sculptor I recognized the lyrical construction as resting on a very (delicate?) need to balance lightly. It was then my task to reconstruct this very light touch from the pieces couriered to me. In doing this I enjoyed my role in her works conceptual ideas. Catriona’s work was titled “staircase” and the artist outlines its intention as being concerned with topophilia; the affective bond between people and place
Catriona explains in her statement ‘The staircase has come to represent a conduit into my creative reservoir and the bond between me and my childhood home’. Then finally asks ‘How can memory and imagination be articulated by delicate constructions?’

To me the work was very much an involvement in reinterpreting its past incarnation, staying truthful to the intention not necessarily so much to its form. As in every construction, something shifts and has to be negotiated. In this way I also felt a strong connection to the psychological metaphor of the language of intimacy, the staircase and bridge structure working much as our language may in negotiating connection or separation. The individual steps lightly in places, or in a blithe action, falls between the cracks, slips on the precipice or has no dexterity to make it from the lofty heights into the basement of desire.

(excuse poor reproduction - no still available)

The DVD ‘a hot one-day blind date affair in the bedroom’ by Mark Misic and Elka Kerkhofs was the result of a curatorial project – ‘Blind Date’. Hayley West had designed this project in order to pair up artists from across the NT (unknown to each other) for a weekend of collaborative practice in Tenant Creek. The work on first impression created a sense to me of a couple who are emotionally removed though intimately familiar. This actually seemed an indictment of love turned sour, the rift and divide that is created when couples continue to cohabitate but have lost respect or trust. I recalled a friend’s comment to me once, ” I have never felt so alone as when I was in the end of that relationship”. The metaphorical arctic divide of the double bed between the male and female, each on a single bed, lying death-like, surrendered and naked spoke to me of a disjuncture in intimacy. There was a sense of mortal exposure rather than any connection. With the cheesy motel bedspread and colours aggravating rather than imbuing any reason to look for long. However this is the point where I expose my personal reading, as on reading the title and artists emails, I realized that prior to the ‘Blind Date’ and in making the work they were remarking on there own experience of not knowing each other and how making work with another artist can make you feel naked. The emails are a real addition to the piece with the humour in which they explored the nuisances of their own appearance. I would never have thought to describe my ears to anyone, but this added reflection by Elka and Marks description of legs like Gumby are quite funny in that self-deprecatory way we analyse ourselves.

Hayley works with the remnants of others lives or thoughts, found notes and photos, in the crevices of a flat or on footpaths. The work for this exhibition consisted of numerous red plastic prayer fans with white Burmese text printed on them. Arriving with instructions to install with, the construction of the work in allan's walk reiterated to me a sense of interpretation and language. The text on the work was written in Burmese and would be a mystery to most passing the installation, it was a beautiful surface with enigmatic code. The title was a faithful transcription of a found love letter. 'one month ago we started to love each other. we find it hard to speak to each other. we don't declare our love openly. I don't know how you feel'. In observing and engaging with the work you sensed the transience we have around others lives, how a persons words or life can be picked up by one and passed by many. How does something filled with such pathos find its way into the mix of public life, then into the hands of a stranger attuned to working with the poetics of others? Hayley's work mixes materials adeptly with text. Following her own artistic language and engaging with the culture of the site rather than just reconstructing the text.

There is synergy between all the titles and work, with the couple in beds divided by an expanse, alongside a miniature bridge made out of the instruments in which we remove detritus from our mouth. An exhibition of shadow play by a precarious sculpture exposed to destruction by any inconsiderate outside force, naked people not for enlarged public viewing and coded feelings suspended with strings attached, these are all the relationships that swam between the work and exemplified the fragility of human relationships at large.


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