3.-2020-AWESOME-Generic-7-Sep-4-Oct.jpg
Reviews/Perth Festival/Visual Art

Rhythms of life

3 March 2020

Jenny Scott finds much to contemplate in the three video works by Tina Havelock Stevens that make up ‘Thunderhead’.

Loading spinner

Review: Tina Havelock Stevens, ‘Thunderhead’ ·
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, 22 February 2020 ·
Review by Jenny Scott ·

Projected on to a huge screen in the central space of the PICA Ground Floor Galleries, video footage of a supercell thunderstorm shows it seeming to float, a semi-sheer column of ethereal white mist against a distant mountain range.

This is the titular work of ‘Thunderhead’, a solo exhibition of evocative works by Sydney artist, drummer and documentary film-maker Tina Havelock Stevens. As the looped footage – shot from a moving car – ensures the storm poses no threat by advancing towards us, we are free to contemplate the awe-inspiring natural phenomenon from the comfort of some massive beanbags.

The footage is perfectly paired with a spontaneously composed post-rock soundtrack by Havelock Stevens and collaborator Liberty Kerr. Emotive and immersive, the work invites us to consider the scale of our environment, to reflect on the systems and events much bigger than we are.

One of the smaller side galleries shows Come Together, Right Now (2006-18), a video of a public vigil held in New York in 2006 to commemorate John Lennon’s birthday. A diverse crowd is seen silently singing, playing guitars and gently bopping their heads as they surround a makeshift shrine to Lennon on the footpath outside the Dakota Building, where he lived and was fatally shot in 1980. The soundtrack features an instantly recognisable musical phrase from the Beatles’ track, “Come Together”, which repeats, plays in reverse, and repeats again.

Exploring the role of music in the collective consciousness, the work represents and evokes moments of unity and intimacy between strangers – on the street in the past, and in the gallery space in the present.

Tina Havelock Stevens, ‘Let’s Groove’, 2020. Installation view at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Photo: Bo Wong

In the other smaller gallery, Let’s Groove (2017) is a powerful (and very cool) improvised video self-portrait of the artist showing just her head and bare shoulders. She is moving with clear purpose and mental focus, with a far-away look in her eye.

It is only once a stick comes into view at the bottom of the screen that we realise she’s drumming – her complex physical actions are mostly hidden out of frame. This is a fascinating and empowering representation of a female artist, presenting beauty through talent, invisible labour, and a proficiency in a traditionally masculine mode of music-making.

Presented in association with the Perth Festival, the compelling works in “Thunderhead” offer fleeting moments captured to encourage consideration and awareness of the social, environmental and musical rhythms of life, reverie, and the transcendental power of music.

‘Thunderhead’ continues until 19 April 2020.

Pictured top: Tina Havelock Stevens, ‘Thunderhead’, 2020. Installation view at Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts. Photo: Bo Wong

Loading spinner

Author —
Jenny Scott

Jenny Scott received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (First Class Honours) from the University of Western Australia, and has spent the past ten years working and volunteering in the arts sector on Whadjuk Noongar boodja. She has fond memories of the dangerous thrill of the playground roundabout.

Past Articles

  • Giving new meaning to DIY

    Looking for a post-lockdown dose of art? With its focus on the ways we occupy our living spaces, Mark Parfitt’s playful exhibition ‘Overhouse’ feels apt, writes Jenny Scott.

    Loading spinner
  • Exploring alienation in suburbia

    Jenny Scott says watching the strange ‘machinima’ film, Hudson Valley Ruins is compelling at times, and unsettling at others.

    Loading spinner

Read Next

  • A woman wearing a clown nose, dancing with a shadow Finding light in melancholy
    Reviews

    Finding light in melancholy

    30 September 2020

    Claire Trolio reviewed Rachael Woodward’s Valentine at the 2018 Awesome Festival. We are re-posting the review to coincide with the work’s 2020 season.

    Loading spinner
    Reading time • 3 minutesTheatre
  • Circa’s Mozart thrills with fun and frolics
    Reviews

    Circa’s Mozart thrills with fun and frolics

    30 September 2020

    Roll over Beethoven – it’s Mozart’s turn for some fast and funky moves set to an all-time hit score, as Erin Hutchinson and junior reviewer Pippa Turnbull discover.

    Loading spinner
    Reading time • 6 minutesCircus
  • children sit on cushions watching six musicians and a narrator tell a story Baroque splendour makes a fun adventure
    Reviews

    Baroque splendour makes a fun adventure

    30 September 2020

    What do birds, ancient music and children have in common? Rosalind Appleby and junior reviewer Isabel Greentree find out in this resplendent AWESOME Festival show.

    Loading spinner
    Reading time • 6 minutesMusic

Leave a comment

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio