Artists: Alison Alder, Alex Asch, Robert Boynes, Ham Darroch, Julian Laffan, Raquel Ormella, John Reid, Toni Robertson and Bernie Slater.
Politics is the sole reason for Canberra’s existence. Canberra was never the first choice for Australia’s capital but a political compromise between the power brokers in Sydney and Melbourne. In this arena Walter Burley Griffin Gave us a city planned with political power at its heart. Capitalizing on the strength of symmetry, the city was created with circles, hexagons and a self-reinforcing power structure, the triangle. Australia’s political heart aligns with the region’s topographical landmarks, and avenues radiate outwards, connecting Canberra to the rest of the world.
The design could be mistaken as a socialist dream made into reality, with public housing in every suburb, encouraging equality, and incorporating the landscape as the playground for city dwellers. Mt. Pleasant is one of the best vantage points to appreciate how truly political the landscape of Canberra is. From this vantage point one can see the obvious formation of the political triangle dissecting Lake Burley Griffin and within it, gifts and monuments: the Captain James Cook Memorial Fountain, The National Carillion (a French instrument), the Australian-American War Memorial and in the distance, the Russian inspired Telstra Tower.
The artists featured in The Triangle are local residents, or have called Canberra home in the last 40 years, and stand in witness to the contemporary political art scene.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Alexander Boynes
John Reid, Untitled (Collage of Australian banknotes), 1982 - ongoing, Australian banknotes, glue, museum board, cedar moulding, 300cm x 500cm; photo Brenton McGeachie
CCAS is partnering with ANCA (Australian National Capital Artists) for Blaze#7 the annual exhibition of emerging ACT artists. Blaze is one of the years’ most popular shows with some amazing new talent involved. Curators Jan Falsone (ANCA) and David Broker (CCAS) are working with Hannah Bath, Julia Boyd, Elly Freer, Holly Granville-Edge, Ruby Green, Patrick Larmour, Trish Roan, Roman Stachurski and Steph Wilson to produce and exhibition that pushes traditional media in ways that are more often than not amusing. This is a group who take commonplace, sometimes kitsch, objects to be used ironically as materials for works in ways that will surprise audiences.
Steph Wilson, The Hyperdome, 2012, oil on canvas and mixed media, dimensions variable; photo Brenton McGeachie
Artists: Roger Benjamin, Tony Clark, Daniel Flood, Claire Freer, Clint Hurrell, Antony Moulis, Jonathan Nicols and Bruce Reynolds
Imprint - Growing Up Planned presents new works by a group of eight artists, architects and academics who have all shared the experience of being born or spending a period of their early childhood in Canberra during a very significant time of the city’s development. Then, like many of their generation, all of the participants in this exhibition, left a city that was still in many ways a small town and made their adult lives elsewhere, although all have maintained contact with the city through friends and family. The occasion of Canberra 100 has offered the opportunity to address the city, many for the first time in their professional practice. Here they interrogate how their unconditioned experiences during the city’s most confident period of development continue to impact on their current practice. Their works offer insights into, and in some cases a critique of, the contemporary city and its place within national cultural identity.
Adapted from catalogue essay by Virginia Rigney
Anthony Moulis (L-R) House for the Hermit, House of Athena, House of the Oracle, 2013, digital prints and cardboard model, dimensions variable, installation view; photo Brenton McGeachie
Artists: Alison Alder, Vivienne Binns, Jacqueline Bradley, Mariana del Castillo, Fiona Davies, Cherylynn Holmes, Stephanie Jones, Mandy Martin, Brenda Runnegar, Erica Seccombe, Jane Barney, Rachel Bowak, Julie Bradley, Julia Church, Anna Eggert, Catriona Holyoake, Deborah Kelly, Ex de Medici, Bronwen Sandland and Ruth Waller.
Beginning in 1981, successive waves of women artists associated with the Canberra Contemporary Art Space have expressed the changing nature of feminist concerns. Bad Girls brings this thirty-year journey to today’s audience via historic and contemporary artworks from artists who continue to create at the forefront of rapidly changing social and political dynamics. Bad Girls are everywhere. They’re our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters and aunts; they’re single, straight, gay and married; for all or some of their life they’ve been artists; they’ve painted, printed, postered, sculpted and photographed subjects that reflect their own secret desires, burning issues and universal feminist concerns with energy, insight, humour, pathos, hope and righteous anger. Bad Girls are our heroines. In this exhibition we celebrate their journey in art and, through their journey, the changing face of feminist concerns over three decades.
Excerpt from catalogue essay by Anni Doyle Wawrzynczak; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Lost solitude, I have always been prey. Like the hare with long ears, I am timid. My shadow is immense.
Sadness, flight of wild ducks. Melancholy, bitter castle of eagles.
Marcel Broodthaers, Mon livre d’ogre (1957)
Taking as its title the deliberate misinterpretation of Broodthaers’ untitled poem, sour castles is an architectural intervention that invites the viewer to enter the ‘non-place’ of the hotel hallway. French anthropologist Marc Augé first described the ‘non-place’ as a public space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity, creating “neither singular identity nor relations; only solitude”.
Divided by five numbered doors, the narrow hall reflects the distinctive physical dimensions of the human body and delineates the psychological boundaries of individual privacy in a shared environment. In this way the installation delivers a broken promise of accessibility, a deceptive corridor of private spaces that are in fact quite inaccessible, and where upon entering, any sense of privacy dissolves.
Excerpts from artist’s statement.
Samantha Small sour castles, 2014, wood, paint, metal fittings, light fitting, monitor, media player, video 4’45” loop, installation view, dimensions variable
In 1972 Mariana del Castillo emigrated with her family from Ecuador to Australia. They settled in Sydney above a Greek delicatessen across from the endless blinking neon lights of suburban Kingsford. This openly brash, bright, in your face commercialism stood in contrast to her gothic world of Ambato where religious fervour, guilt and the realisation of hell were forever branded on her young psyche through an endless series of festivals, rituals and observances. There is a depth of displacement that children of migrants carry, and religious standings and convictions can often stand in opposition to the new secular society.
Del Castillo’s crafted curiosities and fetishes step deep into the past of her Incan, African and Spanish ancestry. An intense fascination with Francisco Goya's (1746-1828), Los Caprichos (1799) and Oswaldo Guayasamin’s (1919-1999) figurative commentaries on social inequality hide in the shadows of her installation. Systemic abuses in our society, institutionalised racism and the illusion of domestic perfection run like threads through the underbelly of her practice.
Del Castillo is interested in small stories and the traces left by different events. Objects carry the memory of being handled, the human stain that speaks to the human condition. At the heart of her practice is a commitment to recycling, up-cycling and transforming everyday found objects into building blocks for her sculptures and installations.
Mariana del Castillo is a 2014 artsACT funding recipient.
Except from artist’s statement.
Mariana del Castillo, Scars of a Ritual Past, 2014, found objects, wood, metal, paint, hair, neon lights, installation view, dimensions variable
Blaze Eight showcases the work of eight ACT emerging artists: S.A. Adair, Katherine Griffiths, Martin James, Alex Lewis, Hardy Lohse, Katy Mutton, Jemima Parker and Timothy Phillips. These artists all explore aspects of the human condition; from the personal to the political, the molecular to the global. Griffiths’ exploration of dreams and emotional states and Phillips’ devotional shrines are intensely personal but will resonate with many. Adair and Parker’s installation and drawing works use meditative processes to investigate our experience of the world around us. Mutton and Lewis explore things humans have built and how they affect our history and our experience of space, respectively. And James and Lohse both explore the most human crisis of current Australian politics - ‘boat people’. Photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Aldo Iacobelli’s work draws broadly upon personal experience. My Days (2011-13) for instance, consists of 224 mixed media drawings in recycled frames. For Iacobelli these works are a form of visual diary, representing the processes of thinking that drive his work on a daily basis. He is particularly interested in memory, those recollections stored in the mind and often completely forgotten – until something arouses their return. For Iacobelli, Montedidio, a book by Neaoplitan writer Erri De Luca, evoked a torrent of potent memories of growing up in Naples during the 1960s inspiring his series of six pencil and smoke drawings Neapolitan Souls (2012).
Literature and art play a strong role in Iacobelli’s practice, which explores not only personal memories but also the impact of stories told by other artists and writers. Reflecting on Frau Weinreb (2012) focuses on Elias Canetti’s true account of an encounter with elderly widow Frau Weinreb who sniffed and licked the portraits of her late husband at night. As a way of coming to terms with this strange yet fascinating act, Iacobelli produced four graphite drawings of tongues. Similarly A tale from the Lower South East of South Australia (2012) reflects upon A Single Sound, an unpublished novella by Linda Marie Walker revolving around the suicide of a young man in Mount Gambier – drawings that respond to the youthful memories of another artist and writer.
Excerpts from essay by David Broker.
Aldo Iacobelli, My Days, 2011 – 2013 209, mixed media drawings, recycled frames, dimensions variable
Aldo Iacobelli, Birdbath, 2013, bronze and copper. 150 x 28 x 11cm; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Intimacy: the feeling of a close personal association of the deepest nature; a sense of belonging. Intimacy can also describe the personal relationship that centres on emotion, passion, love, and immediately summons the senses and the closeness to the living and the dying. And then of course there are the intimate associations that occur with no warning – the discovery of one’s past, the discovery of one’s own or another’s body, and the awareness of the secrets of the self.
Caitlin Franzmann, Carol McGregor and Leena Riethmuller are conscious of creating mechanisms that assist in evoking wider interpretations of what the intimate can conjure up or even can be. The three Brisbane artists confront intimacy differently, but Franzmann’s sound-installation Dissolve, McGregor’s invisible (cloak) of 60 possum skins and Riethmuller’s video works Fitting into yourself and Neti performance  all gravitate around the importance that lies in the unexpected experiences and responses that the audience may have when they are asked by the art to ‘slow-down’ and involve themselves with visual or sensorial work.
Carol McGregor, Invisible (cloak), 2013, possum skins, cotton, ochre, charcoal, tree gum, 240cm x 180cm, Leena Riethmuller, Neti pot performance (1), 2014, HD video 16:9 (Duration 3’21”) installation view; 50cm x 100cm x 754cm, Fitting into yourself, 2014, HD video 16:9 (Duration 19’33”) installaton view, 100cm x 270cm x 225cm; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Art that is ‘seductive’ is often spoken about like it’s a bad thing. In the hands of these three artists, however, the notion of seduction need not simply be an easy way to engage an audience, it can also include highly critical analytical explorations of the ways that desire and seduction might work together in framing encounters with art.
Christopher Twiney has questioned the seductive nature of advertising, undermining its messages and revealing the political and social contexts in which it works. In Art of Seduction he uses high-end fashion brands as the faux marketing tools for daggy Australian country towns, with his out of context use of labels—applied through photographs, prints and appropriate ‘merchandise’—drawing attention to what he sees as Australia’s ‘widening economic gap.’
A process of transformation is also evident in Samuel Townsend’s subtly reconstructed family photographs. Using images from his late grandfather’s album his works ultimately stand as self-portrait, with the snapshots providing the ironic basis for an aesthetic contextual shift encompassing the rise of queer sexuality since the 1970s and seducing the viewer with memories of carefree days in the company of friends.
Natalie Randall moves beyond seduction and straight to the end game for Light Climax (2013), a video that essentially visualizes an orgasm in the language of light and movement. Light Climax also references what Randall calls the ‘invisibility of the female orgasm,’ shedding light on a physical manifestation of desire as if it were at once both a material and metaphysical experience.
Adapted from catalogue essay by David Broker.
Samuel Townsend, Bro’s, 2014, print on Arches Velin Museum Rag, edition of 5, 37cm x 26cm