Review: Curtis Taylor, ‘Untitled (Uura)’ ·
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts ·
Review by Jess Boyce ·
Though Curtis Taylor is recognised as one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, “Untitled (Uura)” is his first solo exhibition. The exhibition brings together the screen work that the Martu artist is known for, as well as sculpture, installation and wall paintings.
On first glance, the exhibition is a stark and sterile presentation; we observe the artificial light of a red neon coffin, bold wall paintings (in both paint and blood) and large chunks of carved timber against white walls and concrete floors. Yet on closer inspection the works offer an intimate (yet measured) glimpse into the materiality of ceremony and contemporary Martu culture.
As the catalogue text explains, the exhibition title “Untitled (Uura)” is a critique of museums and galleries across the globe in which Indigenous Australian artworks and objects are found, confined and displayed with artist unknown and unacknowledged. In comparison, Taylor cannot be removed from the artwork exhibited in “Untitled (Uura)”; he is in it physically, his blood splayed against the wall, his face staring out at the viewer in photographs and plaster casts.
Two videos, hidden behind the wall and viewed through peepholes, feature erotic scenes. In one a didgeridoo is used as a sex toy, in the other a strip tease is performed on top of Uluru (access to the climb finally closed days after the exhibition opened). Whilst the peepholes initially appear to be a way of hiding the videos from view so as not to confront unwilling viewers, the act of placing your eye against the wall and slipping on the headphones makes the act more intimate, harder to look away from. The viewer becomes a voyeur of the disregard of Indigenous culture.
Disguised as a white cube exhibition, “Untitled (Uura)” presents complex reflections on self, death, ceremony, language, culture and Country.
Top photo: Bo Wong.