Reviews/Visual Art

Cool Change delivers a breath of fresh air

10 September 2020

Cool Change Contemporary has re-opened with an exhibition series that provides a moment for reflection and refreshment, observes Jaimi Wright.

September (Djilba) 2020 Exhibition Program, Kelsey Diamond and Ailsa Waddell, Megan Shaw, Oliver-Max Taylor, ·
Cool Change Contemporary ·

Cool Change Contemporary has reopened this month with three exciting exhibitions from emerging artists, each interrogating the tensions found in contemporary society and in their own identities.

For the gallery’s September exhibition period, Cool Change has incorporated Djilba, the Noongar word for the growing season. The use of the word “Djilba” strikes a thoughtful tone, acknowledging that Cool Change operates on Whudjuk Noongar land, but also welcoming the change of season. It feels apt for an exhibition season that encourages viewers to take a breath of fresh air – in the midst of contemporary chaos – to contemplate small human moments.

After reaching the gallery (a hidden gem tucked away in the historic Bon Marche arcade), the journey through Cool Change’s exhibitions begins where the eye first takes you, to the work of Kelsey Diamond and Ailsa Waddell in Gallery 3. Diamond and Waddell’s exhibition “Wobble. Hold. Steady.” explores the dynamism of basic processes, of speeding up and slowing down, of cooling down and warming up, and the inevitability of the change between the two.

Their work untitled (2020) explores the slippage between artistic processes, bodies and forms in its use of pencil, markers, and even slime residue. These mediums mix with each other to create new artistic forms and sit beneath the word “uncertainty”. In a way, untitled approaches the formal slippages in all of us.

The eye is then drawn to the main gallery, Gallery 1, where Megan Shaw’s “Supernormal Stimuli” invites you inside via a tent made of what looks like insulated pool covering. After walking through this warm, blue, plastic womb, you encounter Shaw’s works, which she has accurately described as “yesteryear’s dopamine spikes”.

Shaw says that she examines the tensions that we, as humans, have with consumer capitalism and its sensory stimulation, and this is particularly evident in the installation painting (2020), which seems to mirror the structure of a simple organism while also being made almost entirely out of plastic. By building what looks like a living thing out of whimsical bright colours, organic shapes and the bright sheen of plastic, Shaw highlights the degree to which the artifice of consumerism dominates the rhythms of our lives.

Lastly I discover Oliver-Max Taylor’s “Limp Wristed”, which has been assembled in Gallery 2. Examining Taylor’s own gender nonconformity and the limitations of society’s gender expectations in colourful, fun, and yet incredibly fierce juxtapositions, “Limp Wristed” is characterised by thoughtful yet bombastic joy .

To this end, Taylor’s work Patron of Saint Aberration (2020) is a series of images depicting himself as the Holy Virgin Mary. He both adopts the power within the iconography of the Holy Virgin Mary, while also making Mary’s femininity his own, by emotionally embracing his body and adorning it with glitter and pearls. In this way Taylor’s works are an interrogative celebration of his own complicated gender identity, as well as an example of how to carve out a place for oneself within a world that still exists within the tension of binaries.

Cool Change Contemporary’s September Djilba Exhibition season is a journey worth taking, a hidden gem that examines artistic and worldly tensions of the everyday.

Cool Change Contemporary’s September (Djilba) exhibition season runs 5 – 26 September 2020.

Pictured top is ‘Bust’, 2020, ceramic; ‘Body #1’ ‘Body #2’ & ‘Body #3’, 2020, photograph. Image courtesy of Mayma Awaida.

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Author —
Jaimi Wright

Jaimi Wright is your friendly neighbourhood art historian. She has just completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) at UWA and dabbles in curating, local arts writing, and 19th century French history. Her favourite piece of play equipment is the roundabout even though her stomach should know better.

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