Friday, December 16, 2011

Pre-Fab: a word from the curator

Spatial Construction IV
Work by Rosi Griffin.

So why Pre-Fab?

We all live around prefabricated and manufactured items. It is part of our everyday lives. Often we can move past these objects and materials without too much thought for them but then there are artists whose gaze are caught by the beauty within these shiny materials. They are so consistent in their form and alluring.

Pre-Fab and the works within it sit within a strong history of artists using prefabricated and manufactured materials. A classic example is of Marcel Duchamp who in 1917 presented what he called a 'ready-made' work, that of a mass produced urinal, signed R. Mutt. We have also seen super-star artists Damian Hirst and Jeff Koons create works that utilize manufacturing methods and materials with a team of workers to push their concepts to the rest of the world.
The term Pre-Fab is a shortened version of the word pre-fabricated. It's also a play on the word 'fab' and fabulous, which I think this exhibition is.

The definition of prefabricated is:

1. To manufacture in advance, especially in standard sections that can be easily shipped and assembled.

2. To make up, construct, or develop in an artificial, unoriginal, or stereotypic manner.

These 2 definitions capture, yet make fun of the ideas behind this exhibition. There are works here that have been manufactured well in advance and make use of standard shapes and sizes, such as the installation work of Veronica Caven Aldous. Even the title of this work 3 x 3 and 2 x 2 speaks in a language that we would hear at Bunnings.

However the contrast of this is the floor installation by Cristina Palacios. Her collected discarded bottle tops, lighters and other plastic caps have been carefully placed on the gallery floor during the 8 hour set up period. This work is something that evolves in a very organic manner and changes from exhibition to exhibition, whenever it is installed.

The second definition is one that I believe all of the Pre-Fab artists play with and that is the contradiction of the artificial, the unoriginal and that of the stereo-type. Margot Westhorpes' work is one that cheekily talks about ideas of stereo-type and unoriginality by the materials that she has selected. We see the striped plastic carrier bag transformed into a women's jacket. Margot aims to challenge our notions of fashion and stereotyped identity by reconstructing clothing items from cheap $2 shop materials.

However Pre-Fab isn't just about artists using manufactured items. It's also about creating works that mimic them. Both artists Jasmin Coleman and Carly Fischer trick us with their carefully handcrafted and laborious works.

Carly Fischer creates specimens of trash out of delicately cut and folded paper. Her works mimic the thrown away items found in many street gutters of fast food wrappers and cigarette butts. It is only on careful inspection that the viewer realizes that they aren't trash but very life-like artificial models created by the artists own hand.

Coleman similarly takes everyday concrete off the floor and imitates it onto a canvas. When removed from it's usual location, the 'concrete' shows a real beauty and stillness that we may not contemplate when walking though our concrete jungle.

The idea of the artificial comes up within Nikita Burt's work. Through the use of deconstructed artificial flowers, combined with plywood, Nikita maps out our relationship with the natural world and the manufactured one and how we can co-exist in both. The removed faux petals become a mark making device and another material in what is probably the most traditional looking and wall work within this exhibition. It's only on closer inspection that you can see the interplay between hard metal tacks and delicate textiles. Really a metaphor for our existence within a city environment.

Rosi Griffin explores ideas of architecture through her constructions. Inspired by the idea of a home and implied security within that structure, she has sourced her materials from building sites and hard rubbish collections. The materials within these structures show a fragility within the idea of the home but also look at the amount of waste is created via building new houses.

As you can see, there are so many themes and materials that cross all of these works and that have inspired our artists. They really have built a particular language that sits between art and the prefabricated world. It is a contemporary language and one that I hope resonates with our viewers.

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