Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Everything is Connected

In selecting the artists and artworks for the current exhibition 'Composing Common Worlds' we have been mindful of how the art sits in the gallery spaces and how it relates to each other. First and foremost, this is a show about the art of these artists. Sam Leach, Juan Ford, Stanislava Pinchuk (MISO), Cameron Robbins, Laura Woodward and Hanna Tai are some of not only Victoria's finest art talents, they are without doubt world-class artists. 'Composing Common Worlds' is a testament to the caliber of their work and a way of bringing together a cohort of artists that focus on exploring ways of navigating a place in the world and the broader universe.

Laura Woodward's Five (2014). Photo by Jim Lee (c).
In presenting any selection of artworks in a space there is a relationship that is established between the artworks, in the 'empty' spaces on the walls and the 'unoccupied' spaces on the floor. By positioning particular works next to each other, by facing them off against each other across the room, or by spreading works throughout different rooms, you can draw out these connections.

Therein lies an important aspect of this show. We recognise, primarily and most importantly, that each artwork is an individual and unique work. That it is, itself, a composition of parts - made up of ideas and materials that have been carefully composed, arranged, crafted and refined to achieve a particular feeling and effect. And we recognise that through the act of presenting them collectively in the gallery we are building another type of composition. If we do this carefully and thoughtfully the hope is that we can amplify the inherent ideas in the works, draw out some of the finer elements and make clear connections across artists, across mediums and between the concepts in play. All the while maintaining the integrity of the individual artwork.

Stanislava Pinchuk's Galaxy (Aerial Map of violence in the Maidan) (2014) at left
Juan Ford's The Synesthetic (2014) at right (obscured by the concrete pillar)
To illustrate the point, let's take a look at a couple of examples. Firstly, Stanislava Pinchuk's pin-prick drawing Galaxy (Aerial map of violence in the Maidan) (2014) and Juan Ford's sculpture The Synesthetic (2014). In selecting the positioning of these works in the gallery there was a couple of factors that led to the final choice. Firstly, Juan Ford selected the sculpture's location in a thoughtful awareness of the way in which people move through the gallery space (a nice reflection itself of the theme of the show). Tucked in behind a concrete pillar The Synesthetic is hidden to audience members as they first enter from Gallery 1 into Gallery 2. Only once you are right in the middle of the space do you see it, and more than a few people have jumped with shock when they first notice the figure there. Stanislava Pinchuk's artwork has then been placed next to the sculpture because of a content alignment. Galaxy (Aerial map of violence in the Maidan) is a map of the movements of protesters and militia, together with riot-related events that occurred in Kiev, Ukraine while the artist was living there, all garnered from media reports in real-time. 

What we hopefully build between these artworks is a connection that amplifies the characteristics inherent in each one. Pinchuk's work brings out the political undertone in Ford's work. Ford's work brings out the human, bodily element inherent in Pinchuk's work. Both works reinforce the representational nature of each other - a mannequin standing in for a human, a drawn map standing in for human actions. And yet both play off the bodily character inside each work - Ford's sculpture activates the body of the viewer by inducing a very real bodily response, a shock in the belly or a sense of uncanny unease which makes looking at a map of violence seem more physically affecting; the implied violence of acts of revolution and protest in Pinchuk's drawing infuse Ford's sculpture with even more menace.

Laura Woodward's The Return (2014) at left (detail of)
Sam Leach's Telescope (2014) at right
Let's take a look at another example, something that aligns more visually than conceptually. We've positioned Sam Leach's Telescope (2014) at the end of Gallery 3, next to Laura Woodward's The Return (2014). This positioning puts two works together that have visual similarities and allows for each to reinforce the other. Leach's painting shows scientific apparatus while Woodward's sculpture looks like a scientific experiment at work. The nature of the sculpture helps to reinforce the realism of the painting by amplifying a sense of the physical reality of the equipment portrayed. The painting helps to reinforce the scientific character of the sculpture by amplifying the historical trajectory of the enlightenment ideals begun in the seventeenth century (and infused into the work by Leach's style of painting). 

Within Leach's painting you'll also notice a small bird's foot. This integration of the organic into the mechanic is also evident in Woodward's sculpture through the flow of liquids and the vibrating of the tubes. Both works appear highly technological in content and yet both exhibit hints of the organic. Working together in the space through their adjacent spatial relations, they collaboratively reinforce this characteristic.

This is just a couple of examples, and hopefully provides an insight into the nature of the exhibition. Let us know what connections you see too - there's plenty of relationships in play in Composing Common Worlds. Over the next few weeks we'll be bringing interviews with the artists as well, so stay tuned for more insight into these terrific artworks directly from the artists themselves.

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