A Contemporary Installation and Multimedia
Hosted by Sydney’s Mars Lounge
Curated by Dena S’hangmi Bai, Mia Chicco, Tanya Dyhin, Kaz Handell, Edwina Hill, Sandi Mitchell, Joel Mu, Minna Muhlen-Schulte, Gerrilyn Newn Jasmine O’Loughlin-Glover, and Felicity Strong.
Installation art is a genre of western contemporary art that came to prominence in the 1970s, one that often incorporates diverse media to create a visceral and/or conceptual experience in a particular environment. As an art practice, installation has not necessarily supplanted other dominant genres, nor does it have a self-professed philosophy. Rather, installation art draws upon, and often appropriates, the characteristics of other media, in order to challenge hegemonic uses of media and find novel ways of presenting, expressing or assembling information(1). Australian artist and writer Adam Geczy, whose new work Secret of the Trick 2002 premieres in the exhibition Blood•Severance•Magic at Mars Lounge, has described installation art as the ‘very consciousness of art itself’(2), reflecting the fluidity of installation art, and its inherent interdependency with space, time and object.
This notion of site-specificity (or dependency on site) as an interpretive factor facilitates the discussion of the symbiotic relationship that exists between an object and its position. The exhibiting environment offers an interdisciplinary incursion that intimates qualities not only of location but also suggests the necessity of a viewer as catalyst for dialogue(3).
As such, context is produced, not given. Context is as equally determined (and meaning defined) by the same interpretative strategy as used for the individual constituent images(4).
For one night only, the works of Ed Aldridge, Kate Blackmore, Annie Cohen, Mark Fraser, Adam Geczy, John McLean, Tara Morelos, Stephen Murphy, Mike Parr, Tess Pearson and Diana Smith, are brought together in an exhibition hosted by Sydney’s Mars Lounge. Fusing together these works in the one environment the works take reference from the broader conceptual investigation of Blood•Severance•Magic as much as they do from contextual implications within the site and its preconceived function and aesthetic. Themes as disparate as personal history, politics, pain, process and beauty, culminate in a revealing and discursive exploration of the collective conceptual and/or aesthetic similarities that exist between the works. Not only does the site interject meaning and interpretation, expounding this notion of site specificity, but also the works surreptitiously inform each other, creating an interdependent dialogue or narrative.
Acting as palimpsest, Mars Lounge mediates the predominant narrative as exposited through the work of Adam Geczy. The deliberate inclusion of both Geczy’s political endeavours such as Film Noir/Politique Blanche, a collaborative work completed with Mike Parr, and his more process-based Secret of the Trick, sets a precedent for a composite, diverse experience. What begins as a mesmerising slow-motion induction to the veiled techniques of a magician, soon becomes more than a simply disclosed mystery, as the triptych assimilates some of the disturbing ill-ease that resonates from the images of Parr with his arm anchored by nail to a blood stained wall, or the facial laceration in Annie Cohen’s Eat Face.
Kate Blackmore and Diana Smith’s collaborative work, The Crow, confronts us with shredded flesh, plucked feathers, contorted positions – a harrowing documentary of a crow devouring its own kind. However, this simple observation of a natural occurrence within the animal world is not without its metaphors. Social severance, the film implies, is the handiwork of hierarchy. Darwin’s theory of survival becomes enacted at the expense of emotional empathy. Within this macabre milieu, Geczy’s magician rapidly loses any sense of innocence.
To further compound this disquietude, Geczy’s audio work, Running Piece 2004(5) , injects a restless, foreboding dimension. The shortness of hollow breath, the pounding of a disembodied heart, and the irregular thump of feet that possess no owner, are sounds that work to consume the space with the viscosity of a most tenebrous dream.
Likewise, dreamscapes abound in Ed Aldridge’s Astroboy’s Fear of Gravity, 2000. Directed in black and white, Aldridge’s work evokes a faded dreamlike memory, presenting a moment in time and space, which lacks the colour of one’s lived-reality. Beginning without a determinable point of origin and following a disjointed narrative, Astroboy’s Fear of Gravity negotiates severance with reality.
Immersion of the senses is paramount in the articulation of experience. Sound, colour, space and movement transpose a subjective awareness, a sensation of both the corporeal and ethereal. Perception becomes fluid and transient, reliant on sequences of stimuli. Imagery initiates an experiential and cognisant environment, at once immersive and contemplatory.
1 Crary, Jonathan. Foreword in de Oliveira, N., Oxley, N & Petry, M. Installation Art in the New Millennium. Thames & Hudson, London, 2003. p7
2 Geczy, Adam & Genocchio, Benjamin. What is Installation? What is Installation? An Anthology of Writings on Australian Installation Art. Power Publications, Sydney, 2001.p1
3 For further reading on site-specificity as understood relative to various art genres, refer to: Kaye, Nick. Site-Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation. Routeledge, London, 2000.
4 Bal, M & Bryson, N. Semiotics and Art History The Art Bulletin, vol.73, no.2, June 1991. p174-208
5 Running Piece (2004) by Adam Geczy, in its entirety, is a performance installation including both visual and audio components. In the exhibition Blood.Severance.Magic, only the audio component was used.