Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Visual Art

Two exhibitions too good to resist

7 February 2023

ECU’s Fringe World exhibitions take the viewer on trip that ranges through different themes, ideas and identities, writes Jaimi Wright.

‘HERENOW|23: In-Between-ness’, various artists*
Spectrum Art Space, Edith Cowan University

‘Distance + Displacement’, Dawn Dudek 
Gallery 25, Edith Cowan University

I am proud to be a part of a nation of “in-betweeners”.

Today, Australia consists of a rich combination of different cultural and racial identities that adds depth and character to our human experience. This combination, however, is not without conflict.

It’s the tension in between that informs two exhibitions currently on display at Edith Cowan University (ECU). “HERENOW|23: In-Between-ness”, curated by Dr Harrison See, and “Distance + Displacement”, by Dawn Dudek, explore our multi-faceted cultural experience; the obstacles we face and the dialogues we share.

Currently in its eleventh iteration, “HERENOW” continues to bring us an annual snapshot of Western Australia’s contemporary art practice, at ECU’s Spectrum Art Space. In this exhibition, emerging curator Dr Harrison See, mentored by Professor Ted Snell, explores the question: “From where does culture emerge (and reside) in a multicultural, yet tension filled Australia?”

To flesh out his answer, See has chosen ten artists who represent a variety of cultural and racial heritages, and who express their experiences and histories of living this complex nation through their artwork.

A detail of Lea Taylor's work from HERENOW 2023. Interconnected woven circles are suspended over similar colours and symbols formed in sand.
A beautiful tribute to the painful shadow of memory: Lea Taylor, ‘Gabi Didup-yen Gnamma – Ripples on the Waterholes’ (2022)

In Duplo Series (2023), Brazilian contemporary artist and researcher Patricia Amorim presents works that digitally superimpose water over female bodies and hearts. Impactful and eloquent, these works speak to the fluidity of gendered bodies, and the multitude of methods that women use to take charge of how they are represented.

Lea Taylor’s expansive woven installation Gabi Didup-yen Gnamma – Ripples on the Waterholes (2022) recognises the spiritual and physical significance of water sources for her family and ancestors, the Wadandi, Menang and Goreng Bibblemun people, and the loss of these sacred spaces due to displacement by colonisers.

Interconnected woven circles composed of hand-dyed raffia and jute are suspended over similar colours and symbols formed in sand. Delicate circular shadows hover over and around the red ochre of the sand, echoing the memories of these waterholes in beautiful tribute to the painful shadow of memory experienced by First Nations people.

These two artists are only a small sample of the plethora of those on display at “HERENOW|23”, which has been carefully curated by See, and poignantly explores our country’s ever-growing ever growing conversation about our cultural identities.

Canadian multidisciplinary artist Dawn Dudek transports the viewer between different green environs in her multifaceted exhibition “Distance + Displacement”, on display at Gallery 25 at ECU.

Dudek uses the motifs of a circle within a forest, and a forest within a circle, to travel between Western Australian and Canadian forests in her artworks.

The body of work morphs ever so slightly as you walk around the room. At first you see the original paintings of the forests, soft natural oils on canvas wrapped hardboard with the signature circle cut out of its surface. These paintings then evolve into different mediums the further into the gallery you go.

The paintings can then be seen in photographs of real forests in WA and Canada, and then in circular segments in installations with flora from WA forests. The animation Opposing Narcissus (2023) on the far wall of the gallery reveals the paintings in their final form, a rotating orb projected against the wall covered in Dudek’s paintings, while a photographic forest can be seen rotating at the same speed inside the orb.

As she seamlessly transitions between locations and mediums, Dudek also seamlessly transitions between ideas of difference and commonality, loss and gain, and the sense of ethereality in natural and far away places.

ECU’s two galleries currently offer viewers the chance to travel expansively between themes, ideas and identities, without having to travel far between exhibitions. This two-for-one is too good to resist.

Both HERENOW|23 and ‘Distance and Displacement’ continue at Edith Cowan University’s Spectrum Project Space and Gallery 25 respectively until 17 February 2023.

* The ten artists whose work is featured in HERENOW are:

Patricia Amorim
Kelsey Ashe
Yvette Dunn-Moses
Marcia Espinosa
Shanti Gelmi
Sue Leeming
Desmond Mah
Leonie Ngahuia Mansbridge
Matthew McAlpine
Lea Taylor

Pictured top is a detail from ‘Duplo Series’ by Patricia Armorim at HERENOW|23 . Photo supplied

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Author —
Jaimi Wright

Jaimi is a Development Coordinator for ARTRAGE and your friendly neighbourhood arts writer. She also writes for Art Almanac and ArtsHub as she cannot keep still. Her favourite piece of play equipment is the roundabout even though her stomach should know better.

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