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
The CCAS Members Show provides all members with the opportunity to show their work at Gorman Art Centre. Each show has a theme to which members can respond and there are prizes for the best interpretations. CCAS invites a local arts figure to judge the entries each year are for 2014 it is Shane Breynard, Director ACT Museums & Galleries and the theme is #selfie. CCAS members have had a great time with the theme of self portraiture turning away from the notion of the ubiquitous “selfie” in order to explore their issues of identity from many different creative angles.
The 2014 winners are Daniel Vukovljak and Anne MacMahaon.
The runner-up was Rosalind Lemoh.
On Men continues a study that I began in 2012, exploring contemporary Australian masculinity through the art work of three Anglo Celt artists; Ben Quilty, Alan Jones and Adam Cullen. Descended from the convicts who settled Australia in 1788, a typical 'Aussie bloke' has traditionally been defined as 'macho', he doesn't whinge; a battler who lives and dies by the idea of 'mateship'. This colonial history seems to have continued to influence the way in which Aussie men see themselves. Paul Sloan, Will French, James Tylor and Dale Harding continue this investigation, their varied practices (painting, photography, object-making and cross-stitch) speaking of their own experiences and unique viewpoints to expand the understanding of masculinity.
Adapted from catalogue essay by Eleanor Scicchitano.
James Tylor,Self portrait as Hohepa Te Umuroa, digital print from 16 x 20" negative film, 100x120cm
Action Stations is an exhibition of new works by Peter Maloney and Louise Paramor, and was born out of a long friendship and an enduring admiration for each other’s ever-evolving practices. While at first glance it may seem to be a purely aesthetic coupling, the successful pairing of Maloney and Paramor’s work lies deeper than their usage of colour and composition, humour and whimsy. The pastiche quality present in both artists’ work is a key connection, however it is their mutual interest in mortality, excess and desire that really align their practices of painting, collage and assemblage.
Excerpt from essay by Alexander Boynes
Louise Paramor (foreground) and Peter Maloney, Action Stations, 2014, installation view; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
Archie Moore’s 14 Queensland Nations, a series of fourteen flags exhibited in the Great Court of the University of Queensland’s St.Lucia campus, is based on the work of anthropologist RH Mathews who, in 1900, drew a map of Queensland based on Indigenous language groups. Mathews was one of the first to acknowledge the existence of Aboriginal nations and Moore used Mathews’ sometimes questionable research as the basis of a work that not only raises questions in relation to his own identity as an Aboriginal (Kamilaroi) man but also focuses on the many and varied symbolic uses of flags for identification, sovereignty, imperialism, colonialism, nationalism, possession, power, protection, law, piracy and independence.
Excerpt from essay by David Broker; photograph by Brenton McGeachie.
The exhibition Courting Blakness was held in the University of Queensland’s Great Court from September 5-28 2014.
Archie Moore is represented by The Commercial, Sydney