PROJECT SPACE / 27 May to 16 June 2011
Four Western Australian artists bring together ideas of place, time, becoming, space and relational geography that test the possibilities and complexities of location.
Inverted Consumption (there to here)
... A path is always between two points, but the inbetween has taken on all the consistency and enjoys both an autonomy and a direction of its own. The life of the nomad is the intermezzo. (Deleuze and Guattari, Nomadology: The War Machine, Semiotext(e),New York: 1986:380)
Ideas concerning location have immersed themselves into contemporary consciousness as if memes infiltrating information geography. On a day-to-day basis—through repetition, envy, compulsion and desire—the simple idea of being somewhere, belonging somewhere or indeed escaping somewhere takes over our mediated landscape like bacteria infesting warm, still water.
Driven by production and consumption, it is as if we have forgotten how to forget place. As consumers we are constantly reminded of our immediate attachment to experiential knowledge. No longer aimless, our dialogue with space is built on desire placating anxiety—this reciprococity played out through a constantly alert state of being. Despite shorelines disappearing, quakes rupturing cities and economies of scale laying industrial urban areas to waste, production and consumption of place maintains a kind of un-interrupted constancy. Times change, trends come and go, memories are hardly trustworthy but desire remains tenaciously un-implicated.
Being ensconced and enveloped in a myriad of psychoeconomic strategies defines our relationship to place. We easily and hopelessly continue to position ourselves within the most comfortable and affordable of paradigms, honing further consumption strategies in order to avoid and continue to understand where we are and where we are going. In the end location immersion is not about being where you are, it's about being immersed in production and consumption strategies.
From There to Here and In-between at face value seems a show by four Western Australian artists hell-bent on bringing context to being an artist faced by dislocation on a day-today basis. And it is—but this show also, on a more important level, discusses and disarms strategies of location analysis and questions of being and how these two cooperate within the social realm. From There to Here and In-between takes us outside our realisation that we are in place in order to consider the operations that engage this theatrical sensation... this is the intermezzo.
Susanna Castleden's mapping of idiosyncratic pathways adopts a type of psycho-geography, emulating if not capturing the spirit of movement, reminding us that everything desires movement, everything moves together, everything moves everything else, everything is consumed and produced—even a pathway. These flows of energy are translated in Castleden's work like dance steps that move over re-trodden ground—reprocessing mapped information as a charted choreography.
Nicole Slatter's psycho-emotive response to absentia charts a different strategy, one that utilises physical memory to engage our spatial response. In Slatter's work painting becomes and records the residual act of cultural memory, eliciting a sense of individual loss that brings De Chirico's metaphysical spaces to mind. Slatter reminds us that loss acts as an incredibly important signifier to consume.
Paul Uhlmann's sublim(inal) renderings of caught time are evocative dwelling points. Reacquainting us with Fra Angelico and Giotto, Uhlmann collapses history by allowing light and the cycles of nature to be held in soft, contemplative spaces. Whereas these figures from history desire transcendence from earthly matters, Uhlmann paradoxically focuses our gaze on the sky to consider the all encompassing, interconnectedness of our being. His work defies locational strategies by poetically acknowledging that through breathing you are already and always in (this) place.
Bruce Slatter's objects demarcate space, in the same way a hunter, forager or searcher might chart their wanderings through "successful encounters". Seemingly eclectic, Slatter's work identifies resourcefulness as a language that stipulates usage and therefore understanding, and in this sense resourcefulness becomes a way of charting the language of things. However, this is no safe semiotic ground— from there to here and back again; Slatter's work constantly confounds familiarity... these are egalitarian zones.
... critical work is made to fare on interstitial ground ... critical strategies must be developed within a range of diversely occupied territories where the temptation to grant any single territory transcendent status is continually resisted. (trinh t. minh-ha, When the Moon Waxes Red, london, routledge, 1991:229.)
Dr. Ric Spencer
Ric Spencer is an artist and writer based in Fremantle. He is currently Curator at the Fremantle Arts Centre.