SITE EIGHT / 9 to 19 November 2010
Transition 010 marks a moment of contemplation for these artists to investigate gender, consumerism, politics and environment. Shifting from the familiar surroundings of the educational institution they chart their hope, fear and energy - their collective vision of a new world.
Lesley Turnbull's portrayal of young tomboys takes the form of portraits which are paired with still-lifes of the tomboy's trophies or keepsakes. In the sparse portraits of the tomboys the only other thing in the frame is the glowing whiteness of the background, which sometimes appears to be almost threatening to engulf the subject.
The young women nay tomboys are very engaging but at the same time their eyes almost appear doleful, as if they are strident and saddened simultaneously. Taken alone these portraits are striking and demanding of the viewer, which to the artist's credit are attributes that make great portraits.
These portraits though are not alone. Adding to the intrigue are the pictures of the tomboys' keepsakes, which take forms such as a pinned butterfly and a dog's skull.
In a purely visual examination of the works it is not entirely clear that these objects are keepsakes which may lead the viewer to misinterpret them as direct equivalents or metaphors to the people in the portraits they accompany. In the knowledge though that these are the tomboys possessions, they bring a pervasive sense of trauma to the portraits which adds to the viewers' intrigue about these young females
With the stark unforgiving eyes of an adolescent tomboys void of location and spatial context, dressed in white, shown with an equally stark and unforgiving severed horse's hoof, still pink fleshed from the hack, and a butterfly that was captured, catalogued and killed most likely from before I was born. Lesley's photographs are simple in their execution but complex in their reading.
The way that Lesley removes the context of her subjects and leaves you only with content makes you solely focus on what is given to you, one piece is taken on it's own, it may tell you a part of the story but no where the full extent of the meaning, for me the work must be read as a whole, there are linkages between each portrait and symbol of the tomboy.
As a male, this work throws me, I cannot but help approach it from a female's perspective, which I am not nor could I ever be able to think like the opposite sex, it leaves me confused and intrigued. I cannot help but feel as confused as an adolescent when I try like the trophy like keep sakes of animals and the social and mental perspectives of the tomboy.
The landscape photographs of Kelvin, a hell of a lot of mud, space and shifted earth. From the old masters of the new topology movement to present day landscape photography, Kelvin captures the land in a state of great flux, with the horizon set to give balance of importance to both land and sky, whilst the subjects of the work are mostly the affects of what man has done and is in the process of doing to the earth around the city limits.
To me it's this idea of city limits, that sums up the way that I read Kelvin's work, the notion of where does a city stop, can a city stop, where will the boundaries be drawn. Or will it be and unrelenting land grab, destroying histories, and then imposing its own, for as long as population growth demands it.
The work will serve as an interesting document of these lands without built environment, and I cant help but feel that any insight of the past and record of what once was, will be an invaluable recourse to judging the users of this land in the future.
The earth is trodden, mauled, slain and hacked away. It has been gauched and pulled apart to an open wound, the forgiving rain softening the blow. Tracks are laid daily, by heavy trucks ploughing through the mud, more surfaces are revealed as the excavation continues, relentlessly. Master Skewes (adorning wellies one would hope), faces this damaged land and makes from it sublime photographs.
This text is deeply considered. Binary opposites consisting of night/ day, urban/country, land/sky and in terms of light, where Skewes shows off his mastery, breathtaking contrast between light and dark. A state of change is essentially being recorded here, and given the lands constant state of flux, a valuable archive of what was, and what may remain, could well be sourced through the work of Skewes. A dichotomy of thoughts arises for me when looking at these photographs both jarring and comforting. By co-positioning the sky and land in more or less equal parts, I am reminded that although the global atmosphere may be polluted, the sky shown here remains untouched, whereas the land is barely recognisable and is constantly being pulled apart.
On first sight, one may conclude this text to be a romantic vision of what could be said to be a decidedly unromantic situation. However, by scratching the surface one is confronted with a romance of a different kind, the gritty raw romance of blood, death and desolation.
Danny Colombo's visions of the urban landscape are vast and empty. His art in visual terms consists of large photographic prints predominantly of urban grasslands; these pictures are half vast sky, half vast receding land. Foremost though these works are mental landscapes which trace the psychological topographies of the urban condition.
These landscapes are almost utterly unpeopled and the foregrounds are populated by nothing but grass. The use of a restricted palate of cyans, greens, yellows and yellowbrowns enhances the feeling of altered reality. These factors very much make the viewer feel like they are privy to a singular vision, that being Colombo's disturbing vision of the urban experience.
Most importantly undulations in the land and the horizon caused by the topography of the land and the lens and software induced perspectival distortions greatly contribute to the disturbance and the viewers' feelings of unease. Subtle bows in the land form whirlpools sucking the nauseous viewer into the picture.
This talk of disturbance, unease and nausea is not meant as a detriment to the work, by invoking these attributes Colombo is making prescient observations about the experience of the urban.
The only way to response to a poetic visualism is through poetic language. Sharp contrast. Stark light. Blocked views. Unstable positions. Shooting toward the sun; these larger than life photographs seem to blow out of the water all the principles of what we know about traditional photography. Master Colombo, anti-photographer, precariously roams around the periphery of urban and suburban parklands attached to his camera and never too far away from his own shadow. Mapping the city and outer-city boundaries, Colombo is seeking horizons, old and new. For Colombo, who grew up in country Victoria, the horizon line was his compass, his anchor, his pal. A constant fixture and naturally visible, the horizon line was something he could draw upon for security and balance.
When I look at these photographs I feel sick. I am rocked as my sense of balance is thrown and am drawn into the external world of Colombo's internal confusion and uncertainty. Fake hills, far off cumbersome highrises, a clumsy Ferris wheel and generally loathsome structures block the view to a distance that would have inevitably lead to the horizon line. With this work, Colombo is totally engaged in the dialogue of photography. By compiling hundreds of photographs taken during late afternoon wandering - since the winter sun fallen low in the sky, never fails to find the horizon in which to pass through — Colombo stitches them together to create a bricolage. Colombo's search continues in a kind of soulsearching homage to the picture long imprinted in his minds eye.