Reviews/Visual Art

Our leisure time under the microscope

16 November 2020

Presented at the end of a year in which the way we spend our free hours has been upended, ‘Hyper Leisure’ is a clever rewriting of the way we think about leisure time, reports Miranda Johnson.

‘Hyper Leisure’, Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Erin Coates, Dan McCabe, Ian Williams ·
Moore Contemporary ·

In what feels like a never-ending slog of 2020, we have all had to reconsider how we spend our leisure time. We’ve all experienced being unable to gather, to be distracted and entertained by mass events, festivals, group exercise, and dining out. The conspicuous lack of these opportunities has led to a reckoning of how, why and with whom we entertain ourselves.

Moore Contemporary’s current exhibition, “Hyper Leisure”, responds to this moment through a tightly curated exhibition featuring the works of four Western Australian artists – Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, Erin Coates, Dan McCabe and Ian Williams. These works delve into the various ways in which we entertain ourselves and keep busy, pointing towards the opportunities as well as the threats that can arise when you have the freedom and the time to enjoy yourself.

Ian Williams, Detail: ‘Into the Wild’, 2018, oil on canvas, 80 x 100cm

At opposing ends of the gallery space is Abdul-Rahman Abdullah’s 2014 video work Brothers, featuring the artist and his brother in a boxing ring. As they circle and jab one another, their movements become hypnotic and graceful, despite the intensity and physicality of their match.

Erin Coates’s 2017 video work The Pact (originally commissioned by Decibel for the exhibition “Sounding Art” at PSAS) also features two bodies, but rather than working to defeat one another, the two bodies work together as they rock climb, backs pressed against one another, using their oppositional forces to rise higher, to elevate one another. It’s a beautiful depiction of teamwork, but it also has a strong sense of force, power, and strength, the laborious climb becoming higher-stakes the longer it goes on.

Coates and Abdullah’s works each bring out the force and physicality of the activities portrayed, in ways that undermine the traditionally gendered spaces of their respective sports. Both contain a sense of threat and danger, which made me think about the ways in which we put strain on our bodies in the pursuit of leisure, risking injury and even death for the enjoyment and pleasure of physical achievement.

Dan McCabe, ‘Meditation’, 2019, Automotive lacquer, glass, steel and stainless-steel fixings, 90 x 60cm, Unique work. Photo: Courtesy the artist and MOORE CONTEMPORARY

Dan McCabe and Ian Williams’ works both consider the role of digital leisure in contemporary society. Williams’ works take video games as their primary source; these digital worlds reproduced in oil paint, leading to glossy, hyper-realistic and abstract works that are irresistible to the eye.

Dan McCabe’s metal and glass works are similarly digitally-inclined, reflecting on the leisure of high-end technology and the fascination with devices and technology that proport to give us more leisure time, to make our lives operate more smoothly. These, too, contain a threat, one of the future of technology and what might happen to us when we have nothing but leisure time left.

Presented at the end of a year in which our time, our homes and our social lives have been upended, “Hyper Leisure” is a reflective and considered response to this moment in time. Cleverly rewriting the way we think about leisure time, this exhibition is well worth a trip into the CBD.

“Hyper Leisure” continues at Moore Contemporary until 12 December 2020.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, detail still: ‘Brothers’, 2014, single channel video, 12:14mins, Ed 1/3 + 1 AP. Photo: Courtesy the artist and MOORE CONTEMPORARY

Pictured top is a still from Erin Coates’s ‘The Pact’, 2017, 2K video, with sound, 7:20 minutes, Sound Composition: Cat Hope & Decibel, Ed 5/5, Courtesy the artist and MOORE CONTEMPORARY

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Author —
Miranda Johnson

Miranda Johnson is a curator and writer who has worked for various contemporary arts institutions, co-founded Cool Change Contemporary and co-hosts Fem Book Club at the Centre for Stories. Miranda’s favourite aspect of the playground is getting the chance to meet as many dogs as possible.

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