Rubbish is a daily part of our lives. We buy, we eat, we consume, then we discard. We take our bins to the curb, the screech of a garbage truck wakes us up in the night, and then all evidence is gone and the cycle continues. Ask Keating is a Sydney based artist who is determined to alert us to the whole process, including the negative parts we tend to ignore, and the inevitable build up of waste which is kept out of sight and out of mind. In early 2009 Keating undertook a large-scale installation and performance project in Sydney’s Western district. Where it had a direct affect on the local population, Keating recorded the project in film and photography to reach a wider audience, and it is this work which will be the focus of Activate 2750 at Canberra Contemporary Art Space.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Alice Dickins
Activate 2750 is a C3West project, Western Sydney in association with SITA Environmental Solutions. C3West is a long term collaboration between the the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Penrith Peforming and Visual Arts, Campbelltown Arts Centre and Casula Powerhouse. The Project is supported by the NSW Government through ArtsNSW and by the Australia Council, The Australian Government's arts funding and advisory body, through its Community Partnership Section.
Artists: Julia de Ville, Jessica Herrington, Celeste Aldahn, Tamara Dean, Robbie Karmel, Marian Tubbs, Kate Rohde, Owen Lewis and Helen Shelly.
Perhaps it all started with the skull thing. On one hand peaking with Damien Hirst’s diamonds, and on the other with the skull printed scarves, t-shirts, underpants, umbrellas for a sale at every two-bit chain store in town. The esteemed tradition of the Vanitas, the revered motif, now a grotesque cartoon grin, hollowed eyes mirroring hollow production. Then came the feathers, the jewelry, the headdresses. The how-can-it-be-PC appropriations of ancient cultures. North America, South America, any but the Modern Day America. Leather and tassels and fringing and beading. There were crystals and circles and triangles and orbs. There were trees with skeleton leaves reaching out to stars stretching out across the sky and full yellow moons, artificial fluorescent white moons, sailing over owls and hawks and wolves and deer. But why and what do we want of them? Aside from their teeth that is. Aside from their teeth and antlers and pelts and plumage. To wear, draped over shoulders, hung around necks, tied up in hair. To wear in lieu of getting closer, in place of mud, or blood, in absence of fire and ritual. To prove we are not card-carrying members of the consuming, sprawling, asthmatic allergic 21st century. We are spiritually connected creatures of the universe, tied to the land, the sea, the sky, unarguably belonging just like someone out there was once. Nostalgic for a time we can’t remember, searching for the shard of someone within us - someone who shared our genes in the millennia before we were born, in a time of being free in the world. No job no money no need. Everything pregnant and humming with meaning and purpose. Is that what we’re looking for?
Excerpt from essay by Yolande Norris; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Resurrection represents both the ending and the beginning of an intensely personal journey for John Johnson. Creating these works has been a rebirth for the artist, after years of personal struggle he is confronting his past experiences through his artwork and looking forward to the future.
John Johnson is descended from the Warramunga and Wambya peoples of the Northern Territory but has been living and working in Canberra for the last 25 years. Primarily a painter, he has also worked as an installation artist, performer and art teacher.
His work is strongly political, addressing social issues such as the treatment of Indigenous Australians since colonial settlement, displacement of peoples, the Stolen Generation, deaths in custody and the environment. Resurrection is a collection of works that explore these highly charged topics. The title reflects not only a personal resurrection, but suggests the continued resurrection of these social issues which directly effect Indigenous people yet continue to be disregarded by white Australian.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Vanessa Wright; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Jenni Kemarre Martiniello is undeniably an artistic force to be reckoned with. She is a writer, poet, academic and a visual artist who works with textiles, printmaking and photography as well as glass. Her background is as diverse as her artistic practice, she is of Arrernte, Chinese and Anglo-Celtic descent and her Aboriginal heritage strongly informs all her work.
Entrapment is comprised of all new works, created during a residency at the Canberra Glassworks in 2011. These works explore the ties between country, tradition, family and history through the delicate yet powerful medium of glass.
By reworking traditionally woven eel and fish traps in glass, Martiniello encourages the viewer to refocus on the subject of these works. Striking objects in their own right, woven traps are often sidelined as simply women’s craft, yet they are highly intricate and sophisticated works of art in addition to their practical application. These traps in glass are purely for display and reflection, which highlights not only the beauty of the object, but also questions the removal of Aboriginal people from their traditional lands and the increasing rarity of previously essential traditions such as weaving.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Vanessa Wright
Jenni Kemarre Martiniello would like to thank the Canberra Glassworks and the Thomas Foundation
In the relatively short amount of time since she graduated from the South Australian School of Art in 2004, Yhonnie Scarce has made an impressive mark on the Australian art scene. She was the 2008 South Australian recipient of the Qantas Foundation Encouragement for Australian Contemporary Art Award, as well as being a finalist in the 2006 Telstra Aboriginal and Islander Contemporary Art Award. Scarce belongs to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples from South Australia.
For the first time, Canberra audiences will be treated to three of Scarce’s most iconic works in Ectopia. Each of these pieces explores the history of persecution of the Aboriginal culture as a result of colonization. Her work is highly political, but these views are often expressed through the personal, as Scarce uses her own family history and lived experience to expose larger cultural and social issues within Australia.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Vanessa Wright; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
The Australian landscape is full of paradox: colonised land and wild bush; droughts and flooding rains; serenity and danger. During a residency at Bundanon, Jacqueline Bradley started making sculptural objects that respond to these paradoxes and explore her own relationship with the land in a humorous and light-hearted way. Just like The Lemonheads’ song ‘Outdoors Type’ that the exhibition title alludes to, Bradley thinks an outdoors type is a great thing to be, but is under no illusions about her comfort or prowess in the wild.
Accordingly, The Outdoors Type features wearable art - in the truest sense of the words - that intends to help the wearer (and by proxy, the viewer) engage with the environment in novel ways. Boat Dress opens up the possibility of using rivers for transport and recreation, without fear of being swept away and drowned like a father and daughter in colonial times at Bundanon. Another of Bradley’s marvels, Ladder Shoes, intends to keep the wearer safe from snakes whilst traversing a grassy plain.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Annika Harding; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Nomophobia is the fear of being without your mobile, or being out of mobile or internet reception. The fact that this phobia even exists shows something very important about our relationship with technology. We have now got to the point where we rely on our mobiles, computers, ATM’s, and other electrical devices so much that we would be completely lost without them. Andrzej Zielinski is from the USA and is currently visiting artist at the Painting Workshop at the ANU School of Art. His exhibition Prototype at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space explores our strong relationship with technology and the constant desire to upgrade to the new model.
Prototype is a collection of bright paintings which walk the line between abstract and representational. Electronic devices that we depend on everyday are simplified. Represented in glossy paint, and removed from their ability to function, we see them for what they really are: modern day icons. The shine of the paint changes from different angles, like computer screens or the gold background of early Christian paintings. Following in a long history of icon painting, the viewer will be mesmerised by the magic of objects which we interact with everyday, but never really understand. As each new electronic device is released we are drawn to the shine, the thrill of the new, and the growing mystery of their inner workings. The mythological pull of these devices is made screamingly apparent in Zielinski’s paintings.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Alice Dickins; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
In Slow Dance and Light Sequence Arryn Snowball has added video and photography to his repertoire of banal transcendence. Simplicity is on the menu in the former where he held lamp to light black painted sticks on a slowly rotating Lazy Susan. The sharp edges of the sticks and blurred edges of their shadows flirt with the third dimension as they create the lyrical illusion of a choreographed routine. There is a droll humor in the slow dance that emerges from a movement through which Snowball adeptly brings together elements of formalism and constructivism on the ironically unrecognizable surface of the familiar Lazy Susan.
Light Sequence doesn’t move too far from the comfortable communal zone of the dining table and continues to reference the traditions of formalist photography, this time from the kitchen. A series of framed photographs that capture the dappled light of the morning sun as it is filtered through vines onto the gridded pages of a notebook reveals a scarcely discernable relationship between nature and artifice. Each image in brilliant grey scale is taken six minutes apart following the changing morning light in poetic form. In both works Snowball collapses the idea of medium using the figurative qualities of photomedia to produce a heightened sense of abstract expression.
Excerpt from statement by David Broker 2012
Feeders was developed during a studio residency in Tokyo in 2010. The work recreates two encounters during which wild birds took food from my hand. The first was at a beach side temple in Kamakura where I had a sandwich snatched from my hands by a large Black Kite. Opportunistic scavenging by Kites is a common event on the coast at near Tokyo, so much so that bi-lingual signs have been installed to warn visitors. This event was a startling and powerful demonstration of the outcome when humans provide food to wild animals, usually in the form of waste, as this allows a certain species to survive and thrive. The experience of temporarily becoming, in the moment of eating, a prey animal, was such an unexpected and compelling encounter that I wanted to investigate it further in an artwork. The second encounter depicted here is when I fed peanuts to a small and charismatic songbird called a Varied Tit when I visited the Meiji Jingu shrine in Yoyogi Park.
Rather than re-staging these events for camera, as in a nature documentary, I have chosen to make a work that takes a more subjective point of view. My intention was to recreate the excitement and immersion-in-the-moment that characterises an encounter with a wild creature.
Excerpt from artist's statement Raquel Ormella
These shadows fall for us, and we for them. Like a roomful of wraiths, they wait suspended, for us to walk among them, animate them, as we, the light, the day itself, moves, making them change, grow, diminish, reach towards us, and fall away. These works are not static, the laser-cut steel sculptures buzz with an electric current, a lightning strike of energy transfixed and pinned on the wall, while the glass works hover and float like cloud or mist that gathers, fades, and disperses as we watch. The complex layering techniques create varying levels of opacity and transparency, allowing the fore and background, positive and negative space, to intermingle; for forms to push forward or retreat to the depths. This is space creation; a demonstration of how the body both activates, and is activated by space. The surrounding swirling patterns are like currents, eddies, whirlpools, which tug at the body, and yet are also a trace, the wake left by the body moving through it.
Excerpt from essay by Sarah Rice