Many thanks to artist and writer David Greenhalgh for his review of our 28.09.16 exhibition. Photos by Steve McLaren.
Cleaving meaning from contradiction.
D’Souza lets us know that her motherland is a mouthful – what motherland that is isn’t stated and I won’t take a guess (assumptions being the most quotidian colonial hangover we can perpetrate). What is apparent however is the arena of the internet is the active backdrop to this work: The internet was lauded in its earliest incarnations as a space where our inescapable bodies could potentially be discarded and we could become avatars in a free, open, and equal zone. The reality is that the anonymity the web provides, has created a space far from neutral: in many ways the web has become a caustic zone of reactive, spiteful hyperbole and disinformation. The idea of the ‘public sphere’ once embodied so many ideals of truthful, open debate – The public sphere of today has distorting algorithms, which reinforce one sided arguments. D’Souza seems to have launched herself, like a contemporary suburban astronaut into one of these self-serving spheres of online life: A live streaming service, populated by lewd, aroused males. Her body shouldn’t be objectified, but the digital world has carved out a site where this seems to be the main objective, amplifying the sexism and xenophobia of the actual world.
Bartok seeks to emulate a children’s book, or a beginner’s guide to learning a language, in an effort to probe an infinitely complex set of concerns in the most simple of terms. The over-arching theme of an unhealthy society full of contradictory expectations could be written about endlessly: The inflated individualism of contemporary capitalism and the opposing, but not incompatible concerns of fame and loneliness in an age of digital interconnectedness are a rich vein of study.
Bartok seeks to distill these conditions down to absurdism. But not an absurdism obtained through exaggeration. This absurdity is in plain sight of us all, yet we take little notice of it. Or to put it another way: “Chloe is so angry about war, corruption and the environment that she posts a photo about it on Facebook”.
Dambach has taken on the task of communicating not only feeling, but a feeling that occurs in a fleeting moment. To capture this, her method of choice is abstraction and colourscapes. When a practice is about what is not said, and the spaces in-between, and then this takes its form in material production, perhaps abstraction is the only means of communicating the opposition of her concern and her method.
Ryan Hancock makes use of an historical technique, Maiolica, in his ceramics. This technique originated during the Renaissance and was often used in works that captured political, historical or mythical scenes, yet Hancock corrupts this using a punk irreverence to demonstrate the ideals of our age. In an age where we live with both material wealth and accessible data, the narratives of the past are drowned out by a cacophony of noise: graffiti and cartoons are some of the forms of communication used by Hancock. As we acknowledge the faults, biases and incompatibilities of past ideologies, the contemporary response is an irreverence towards the weight of meaning it once had. Nothing is sacred and contemporary art becomes a community space for expressions of nihilism.
Yvette’s works have evolved significantly over the last few years from realistic portraiture, to her current practice of what has been described as cubism that approaches themes of personal and domestic settings. I’d like to differ from this sedate description: the works are animated, branded depictions of her subjects. This is clearly a major departure that asks new questions of familiar subject matter. The pastel colours aren’t floral, they are packaging. The cubist depictions aren’t of a domestic setting, they are hyperactive representations of the marketplace: a glimpse of a five dollar note can be construed in places, a flash of a ten dollar bill in others.
Chen’s use of sphagnum moss takes on both a fleshy, tumorous feel, alongside a starkly contrasted cold, museum display of material samples. These divergent aspects seem to be a rationalisation/intellectualisation of flesh and a distancing mechanism. The moss acts as an extension of the human body, both through Chen’s knowing exploration of it as a wound dressing, and viscerally/subconsciously as the works resemble limbs and limp organs.