Image: Izabela Pluta, Untitled, installation view, 2009.
During the 1920s and 30s, Mickey Mouse was a reckless, womanising, singing and dancing show-off, which are the aspects of the iconic Disney character that Ortega focuses on in Mouse. Fascinated by the sanitisation and and neutralisation of Mickey Mouse over the last 80 years, Ortega explores Mickey's original macho personality through photos played out like comic books. Ortega argues that heroic mythologies have normally been associated with racially dominant groups, interesting when considering that Mickey Mouse was originally shown with stereotypical attitudes of African and Hispanic minorities but his morals became more acceptable the more heroic he became. Looking like a kind of industrial film noir, Ortega has cast himself in the role of Mouse and reveals his own experience - that of the Mexican/Mayan migrant, and his gradual "purification" in an environment of white western tradition.
Image: Maurice Ortega, installation view, 2009.
"The idea of the football field as a constricted location where masculinity is constructed is an irony seldom lost on homosexual men who have not traditionally been welcomed into this exclusive zone of manhood. Contact sports, particularly the football codes, are sites of ambiguous messaging, where curious rituals of male bonding resolutely exclude women while (somehow) affirming masculine heterosexual identities. This Darwinian environment of brute survival that casts a shadow over formative years can be the stuff of nightmares for men of “questionable” sexuality. While ultimately many men might choose not to play the game, memories of sporting culture linger in a murky cauldron of inadequacy and heightened eroticism."
"It is in this vortex of confusion, where sexual fantasy and ostracism from the tribe/team generate a brittle sense of identity, that David Spooner has positioned his soft sculptures to question masculinity as it is perceived through the filters of sporting prowess. There is a surreal element to Spooner’s textile sculptures in keeping with the Freudian view of a life force (Eros) fractured by memories of past experience and emerging deep from within a psyche damaged on the “field of dreams”. Working with traditional feminine crafts such as stitching and quilting, Spooner weaves a masculine overlay consisting of a quasi-mathematical numerological narrative based on the number sixteen – denoting the sixteen candles that represent coming of age and sixteen being the number of players in his imaginary football code."
From David Broker's 2014 essay for David Spooner's Electronic Football League at The Walls.
Image: David Spooner, installation view, 2010.
"This exhibition presents research in progress. As a result of recent fieldwork in Europe this body of work focuses on the magical artifact – reliquaries, voodoo dolls, votive objects, folk magic, juju, ex voto – objects that incorporate human remains or a mimesis of the body. Where there is a material and psychic strategy to harness a spiritual or magical affect. The transference of energy, heat or mana between body and object as a means by which the material world is animated, charged up, and exerts force over people – an exploration of gods in the making."
Image: Jay Kochel, The Wishful installation view, 2010.
Image: Simon Scheuerle, Next Form, installation view, 2010.
"Placemapsis a collage of identity - of where I have lived, spent holidays and explored. The images are like fragments of memory pieced back together in an attempt to map past experience visually. I am searching, zooming in and out, looking for traces of lost moments to create an understanding of time and place. What emerges from this investigation is not a nostalgic link to the past, it is a new interpretation that clearly maintains a distance between now and then, here and there."
Image: Tracey Meziane Benson, 2010, installation view.
The Twilight Girls, Helen Hyatt-Johnston and Jane Polkinghorne, have been collaborating since 1990, working in various media including photography, sculpture/installation and video. Working alongside their individual art practices The Twilight Girls take on a humorous and sometimes dark interpretation of their own bodies and the world in which they exist. A fixation on the ridiculousness of the female experience has been a touchstone across many works that reveal pervasive elements of humour, revolt and disgust. Their current body of work is titled The Dead Sea.
Image: The Twilight Girls, 2010, installation view.
With a broad range of influences from popular culture to historical painting, Shelley makes paintings on perspex to explore her personal preoccupation with death in Death Proof. With illusionary perspective within the perspex, Shelley uses abstract form based on what is seen when our eyes are closed as well as images of her friends playing dead, though placed outside of the physical world, maybe in ecstasy.
Image: Helen Shellley, Immortality With Out The Assistance of God no. 18, 2009.
Phwweeeeeeeeeeeiiiippp… with the shrill of a whistle, men, women, boys and girls race to be the first to gain possession of the ball, all across Australia. Within the overarching umbrella of football in this country, Footy Fever seeks to represent the wildly varying connections that artists have with Aussie Rules, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Soccer, and Wheelchair Rugby. For those that complain they don’t know the rules, or what differentiates one code from the other, imagine how ridiculous it is for those looking in on the art world. By mingling the smell of grass and linen, sweat and paint, Footy Fever aims to connect with a far broader audience, and dispel the perceived elitism of contemporary art and the mindlessness of football. The exhibition explores the way artists engage with the sport through themes of sexuality, belief, belonging, history, nostalgia, religion, war, dedication and fandom, and declares football’s enduring relevance in the world of art.
The exhibition will bring together work from established, emerging and outsider artists, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, including Shoeb Ahmad, Alex Asch, Jon Cattapan, Mariana del Castillo, Dinni Kunoth Kemarre, Julian Laffan, Richard Lewer, James Lieutenant, Glenn Morgan, Louise Paramor, Meta Rothery, Daniel Savage, David Spooner and Theo Tremblay. Photography by Brenton McGeachie
In Outback Explorer, James Dodd uses painting to look at graffiti as a cultural indicator. While most think of graffiti as street art (think Keith Haring, Banksy, et all), Dodd sees graffiti as any marking made in a public space. Interested in crude insults and declarations, Dodd uses these unrestrained vandalisms as a signifier of people and the psyche of a place, here applied to a place he loves - the Australian outback. Using these writings to understand and explore the country, Dodd shows the truth of our backyard, removed from the myth and fantasy of Australian folklore.
Image: James Dodd, 2010.