Triangles in shades of blue and grey
August 19, Calendar, July 19, June 19, September 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Concrete E X P A N D E D

2 Jun – 22 Sep @ Vasse Felix Winery ·
Presented by Janet Holmes à Court Gallery ·

This exhibition considers the affects of colour, design, pattern and shape through works of geometric abstraction. It takes part in a conversation about an ongoing artistic concern with Minimalist and Concrete Art in the new millennium. It playfully suggests an expansion of the genre of Concrete Art that had a local explosion on the streets of Fremantle in the early 2000’s. In Concrete E X P A N D E D large-scale, hard edged, minimal, abstract and pure colour paintings are joined by, three-dimensional wall-works, actual concrete sculpture, light sculptures and ephemeral light works. Together these works coalesce and converse in philosophical questions of form, aesthetic experience and existence.

Artists: Rebecca Baumann, Consuelo Cavaniglia, Jannene Eaton, Robert Hunter, Brian McKay, Trevor Richards, Douglas Sheerer, Helen Smith, Trevor Vickers, Josh Webb.

More info
W: www.holmesacourtgallery.com.au
E:  Laetitia.wilson@heytesbury.com.au

Pictured:
Trevor Richards, Through and Under, 2018,
acrylic polymer paint on canvas

Please follow and like us:
News, Reviews, Visual arts

Less is more

Review: Hatched National Graduate Show 2019 ·
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts ·
Review by Jenny Scott ·

The 2019 edition of “Hatched National Graduate Show” is more of a minimalist affair than previous years.

Hosted by Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA), “Hatched” is an annual survey of works by selected artists who have recently graduated from tertiary institutions nationwide. This year’s exhibition features 18 artists (including three from WA), scaled back from the 30 graduates chosen for the 2018 show. As a result the PICA galleries feel more spacious, encouraging visitors to pay sustained attention to the works on display, and allowing links to be drawn between art from across the country – with shared concerns including mass consumption in global capitalism, sustainability and the natural environment, and explorations of cultural traditions and gender identity.

Many of the works in the ground floor galleries have been created with a sense of human scale in mind – such as Jonathan Kim’s finely balanced assemblages which sit directly (and vulnerably) on the floor, or Ómra Caoimhe’s intricate knitted structures hung from knotted wool. The deeply personal woven domes of Kim Ah Sam have been suspended at head height, as if waiting for someone to duck under and feel the rim of feathers around their neck.

On the back wall is a brightly lit satin cape by Dennis Golding, who has decorated the fabric with hand-sewn symbols of personal and cultural significance. Stunning footage of other richly coloured capes can be found in Golding’s two-channel video Empowering Identity (2018). Fluttering in the breeze, these lush garments conjure the power, strength and symbolic nationhood of the superhero, presenting a powerful representation of contemporary Aboriginal cultural identity.

Anita Cummin’s ‘feelings’. Photo: Matt Schild, Ok Media.

In the adjacent room is Anita Cummins’ feelings (2019), a radiant carpet of crushed Cheezels which is a sight (and smell) to behold. Close inspection shows hand prints in the neatly-packed surface of the powdered snack food, revealing the intimate labour performed by the artist during its installation. The winner of the prestigious 2019 Schenberg Art Fellowship, Cummins is concerned with mental illness and emotional processing, and this all-too-relatable work evokes feelings of excess, compulsion and short-term gratification.

Upstairs, the installations of Yvette James make the gallery space seem a little unstable, encouraging a heightened sense of bodily awareness and a feeling of potential disaster. An uncovered hole in the floor exposes an oil pool of indeterminate volume, while honey seems to leak from the bottom of a wall, and a heavy chunk of basalt rock hangs tenuously above. Evocative yet stylishly minimalist, these works pair nicely with the subtleties of Louis Grant’s nearby pastel blocks, which are seemingly solid forms that bear the bubbles and imperfections of kiln formed glass.

Across the room, Annette An-Jen Liu’s Reconsidering Time in the Ritual of the Joss Paper (2018) produces interesting tensions between the archival and the ephemeral, documenting the ceremonial tradition of burning joss paper. Liu has arranged display cases containing piles of ash alongside screens blaring an overlapping cacophony of news reports, signalling to the complexities of performing cultural heritage practices during the age of mass media.

As a whole, “Hatched 2019” offers a compelling and vital cross section of current contemporary art produced by emerging practitioners, in which the works of each artist bear witness to their considered academic enquiry and commitment to their developing practice.

“Hatched 2019” runs until 7 July.

Pictured top: ‘Empowering Identity’ (2018) by Dennis Golding. Photo: Matt Schild, Ok Media.

Please follow and like us:
Objects at Bedside
Calendar, Exhibitions, June 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Bedside

7 – 20 June @ Spectrum Project Space, ECU, Mount Lawley ·
Presented by Lucille Martin ·

Bedside is a new exhibition by Australian contemporary artist, Lucille Martin. Martin is an artist working in photo-media, textile and performative practice exploring new frontiers of self-representation to navigate the intersections of art, science and technology.

Martin’s new exhibition, Bedside is an iPhoneographic multi-media installation exploring identity through Documentary participant observational image capture* of her bedside table taken on a daily basis over a three-year period. This multi-media exhibition is a story of female identity through love, loss, place and exploration.

Bedside is about reclaiming identity and how the camera phone becomes an intimate form of stability in that process. In 2017 Martin’s iPhoneography images and the journey she has recorded became the basis of a PhD (Provisional). Martin’s story is currently in production as a documentary work by a filmmaker in Melbourne and her immersive exhibition of images and video work opens at Spectrum Project Space on 6 June. The iPhone camera provides a freedom and accessibility to share in a collective cultural experience, engaging in new ways of working and seeing the world. The images share the intimate and common objects, patterns and repetitious positioning of the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of life toward an expression of universal emotion.

Lucille worked as a freelance artist for Vogue, Harpers, Belle, TV Soap, Penthouse and other fashion magazines during the 90’s. Trained as an Art director she went into professional art practice over 25 years ago. Throughout her awarded career Martin has frequently roamed within the world of documentation and candid display since she shot her first images during the Anti-apartheid riots in South Africa in 1984. It was the launch of her first exhibition, Blind Spots in 1986, in support of her passion for human rights at Sydney’s King Street Gallery and an Australia Council project grant following soon after, which established her award-winning work in Sydney and Perth. Martin’s long career includes significant community development and participation, higher education, pedagogy and policy advocacy.

For further information please contact Lucille on 0407842442

“The everyday and the ordinary are evocative and challenge my desire for self-protection and preservation.  Bedside is vulnerable, personal, universal, uncomfortable and mundane”, Lucille Martin.

An artist talk will take place with Lucille Martin on Thursday 6 June at 5.15pm to be followed by the Official Opening by Ms Geraldine Mellet from 6 – 8pm at Spectrum Project Space, ECU Mount Lawley Campus, Building 3, Room 3.191

Exhibition opening hours:
Tuesday to Friday 10.00am – 5.00pm; Saturday 12.00pm – 5.00pm

More info
W: www.facebook.com/events/462811711122695/
E:  spectrum@ecu.edu.au

Pictured: Bedside courtesy of Lucille Martin

Please follow and like us:
Object in beige resembling cushion
August 19, Calendar, July 19, June 19, September 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: AGWA Design – Family resemblance

15 Jun – 9 Sep @ Art Gallery of WA ·
Presented by Art Gallery of WA ·

A collection display featuring a range of (largely) ceramic works that showcase the way some of thenation’s and world’s best makers create sequences and clusters of objects. These works explore the idea that hand-making is so often about incremental and subtle shifts in focus and form, as a style and an artistic approach comes into being over time, and from form to form to form. In this mode, we might observe that singular entities in a maker’s output resemble “family groupings”.

The works selected to open this out are incredibly subtle and reserved and can be experienced as a series of the most delicate gestures and expressions of a material poetics that create, even quietly demand, a contemplative space around them. Other material looks at the ways seriality creates the conditions for meditative experience, while others still, are composed of various kinds of parts that speak to formal relationships within individual works whilst foregrounding their inventive (and often oddball) conversations with the larger world of modern and contemporary ceramic practice.

The display includes recent and older acquisitions by makers such as Ron Nagle, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Lucie Rie, Hans Coper, Margaret West and Sandra Black amongst many others.

More info
W: www.artgallery.wa.gov.au/whats-on/exhibitions/agwa-design-family-resemblance
E:  admin@artgallery.wa.gov.au

Pictured:
Ricky Swallow Fig. 2 2009 (detail). Jelutong (Dyera costulata), 82 x 38 x 25 cm. State Art Collection,
Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation:
TomorrowFund, 2010.

Please follow and like us:
News, Reviews, Visual arts

The strength of resistance

Review: ‘Revealed: New and Emerging Aboriginal Artists’ and ‘To Be Continued: Photography from Indigenous Australia’ ·
Fremantle Arts Centre ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·

“Revealed: New and Emerging Aboriginal Artists” and “To Be Continued: Photography from Indigenous Australia”, currently at Fremantle Arts Centre, are two exhibitions that display the breadth of talent of Aboriginal artists in Australia as well as the strength of their active resistance to ongoing colonial practices.

“To Be Continued” is a survey of contemporary photography from remote, rural and metropolitan based Aboriginal artists. In contrast to “Revealed”, the show is quite contained, spanning just two rooms. Within these rooms, however, dreamlike memories and historical narratives are retold and reimagined, examining Australia’s colonial past – and present – to undermine accepted narratives.

“To Be Continued” somehow feels speculative, towards not only the past but the future. Lavene McKenzie’s works draw out pivotal memories from her childhood of discovering and cementing her cultural identity through the relationship to her country. In Grandfather, a tableau beautifully draws out the mundane details of a childhood afternoon – chicken flavoured chips and a bottle of coke – to contrast with the landscape of the Stirling Ranges peeking tantalisingly through the screen door. McKenzie’s grandfather gestures towards their country to reinforce their spiritual and cultural connection to what’s out there.

Fiona Foley, ‘Protector’s Camp’, 2017, Fujiflex digital print, 45 x 80cm.

McKenzie’s dreamlike images speak closely to the centrepiece of the first room, Fiona Foley’s fictionalised retelling of the Aboriginal missions in Queensland, and the power relationships between the men of the clergy and government, and the Badtjala people. Drawing on the historical records of the time, Foley does not turn away from the dark narratives of sexual abuse, slavery and addiction. In her images, Aboriginal people and white colonialists are photographed side-by-side, their deliberate gazes and conscious poses belying the seemingly historical tableaux, conscious of their presence as performers rather than subjects. Looking to a dystopian future – as well as a historical land grab – Michael Cook’s speculative images of native Australian fauna invading 1960s London on spaceships provides a humorous yet pointed consideration on the violence of invasion, inverting narratives of power.

Michael Cook’s speculative images of native Australian fauna invading 1960s London on spaceships
Michael Cook, INVASION (UFO Possums), 2017 digital print on paper 120 x 81cm. Michael Cook, INVASION (Finale), 2017 digital print on paper 120 x 81cm. Photography by Jessica Wyld.

Comprising of an art market, exhibition, artist talks, mentorship programs and curatorial placements, “Revealed” is an annual program that brings together Aboriginal art centres from around Western Australia as well as a number of independent Aboriginal artists, to display the expansiveness of Indigenous art practice.

A corridor of works from Nagula Jarndu.
Various works from Nagula Jarndu. Photography by Jessica Wyld.

The biggest “Revealed” exhibition to date, the 2019 iteration certainly feels expansive, as the corridor lined with block printed linen from the women of the Nagula Jarndu Aboriginal Women’s Art and Resource Centre encloses the viewer in the narrow space, then gives way to the airy galleries of FAC’s South Wing. Here, works by established Aboriginal artists are placed alongside emerging artists, with strong themes of mentorship and generational knowledge providing links between individual works as well as individual art centres.

This year, a focus on experimental use of materials and ways of making shines throughout the exhibition; Amanda Bell’s teabag-stained fabrics alongside a projection of her making process sits next to a vibrant fabric map of Langford. Denim patches with – variously – gum nuts, bird feathers, pebbles, bark and felt, embroidered painstakingly onto the fabric, create a visual map of country that marks the memories, emotions and cultural traditions embedded in the land.

Teapots and cups
Amanda Bell, ‘Yoka yaakiny’, 2018, mixed media (tea bags, natural and vegetable dye, marri gum), dimensions variable. Photography by Jessica Wyld

It’s not only personal relationships to country and culture that are on display here, but a strength of resistance against the commodification and appropriation of said culture. This thread  runs through both ‘Revealed’ and ‘To Be Continued’.

Questions of what culture means, on both a personal and a community level, and how it is abused by settler colonialists, capitalists and big corporations, are everywhere. It’s in asking these questions and telling these stories that the importance of exhibitions such as these – and the role played by Aboriginal art centres in creating and sustaining cultural knowledge, art practices and community – becomes clear.  These are not just local initiatives, but sites of resistance.

‘Revealed’ runs until June 1.

‘To Be Continued’ runs until June 1.

Pictured top: Lavene McKenzie, “Grandfather”, 2017 digital print on paper 116 x 79cm.

Please follow and like us:
News, Reviews, Visual arts

Taking the pulse of young artists

Review: ‘Pulse Perspectives’ ·
Art Gallery of Western Australia ·
Review by Lydia Edwards ·

There is a tendency, when it comes to exhibitions of under-18s’ work, to curate with an inclusiveness that sometimes suggests a lack of discernment. Works are either viewed with awe – “how could that have been done by a school student?” – or dissatisfaction at the skill level or maturity of subject matter. When such exhibitions are staged in established galleries, a viewer can be especially unsure how to judge the work they are seeing. AGWA’s “Perspectives”, an annual exhibition of work by Year 12 Visual Arts students from across Western Australia,  consistently seems to have avoided this uncertainty, and not only because the artists shown are clearly the next generation of West Australian talent. The show has always been curated with a non-patronising, highly professional touch, in line with other, more conventional exhibitions at the gallery. Captions and didactic panels do not focus on the age or status of the artist, but on their personal vision and description of the work, which is often an insightful and useful addition.

Genevieve Matthews (Penrhos College), ‘Ocean in the plastic’ 2018, slip cast, paper cast, porcelain corals, twenty-nine parts: dimensions variable.

With 2019’s “Pulse Perspectives”, which features 46 works by 2018 graduates, the gallery aims to “gauge” and emphasise the “pulse of young people who will influence, empower and shape the world we live in.” A few works in, and it’s clear that the pulse of young Australian students beats to the rhythm of climate change, the refugee crisis, gender disparity and discrimination, as well as cultural isolation. This is hardly surprising, and young activist Greta Thunberg’s chilling battle cry: “I want you to feel the fear I feel every day” resonates in works such as ceramicist Genevieve Mathews’ Ocean in the Plastic and Lawson Boughey’s Plea from the earth, which beautifully mimics traditional Chinese paintings with a soft, dreamy peacefulness that – on first glance, at least – belies the sobering underlying message.

Other pieces, like Connor Fallon’s Boys Don’t Cry and Mila Mary’s Super normal gorgeously emulate the work of stalwarts Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin, artists from a different generation who expressed their sexual and social anxiety in remarkably similar ways.

Connor Fallon (Wanneroo Secondary College), ‘Boys don’t cry’ 2018, mixed textile, 66 x 207 x 140 cm irregular.

But amongst all these worthy exclamations of global distress sit more introspective pieces, focused intently on the individual. Far from betraying millennial self-absorption, however, they speak to both age-old growing pains and the quietly growing confidence of a society having to deal with a mental health epidemic. Emily Lewis’s Death inspires me utilises a scratchboard technique to depict a dog-like beast chasing a petrified rabbit, an angst-ridden scene indicative of her recent emotional and life struggles. Beautifully rendered in a medium suggestive of the slow, ancient art of engraving, the work combines the frenetic life of a 21st century teenager leaving home with the kind of slowness and thoughtfulness this generation is often accused of lacking. Such mindfulness is also evident in the work of Alexandra O’Brien (detail pictured top and full work at end), a deaf artist who uses the brooding darkness of the Dutch Golden Age to express the “liminal space” in which she lives.

A tiger chasing a rabbit
Emily Lewis (St Norbert College), ‘Death inspires me’ 2018, scratchboard, four parts: 57 x 168.5 cm overall (framed).

Whilst these works are technically skilful and emotionally absorbing, the exhibition left me with mixed feelings — and this was quite possibly its intention. The personal and collective angst felt by these young people is draining to witness, with very few works predicting a bright future. Nevertheless, if “Pulse Perspectives” is indicative of the current climate, its works need to be shown… and older generations should take note.

‘Pulse Perspectives’ runs until July 22.

Pictured top: Detail from Alexandra O’Brien’s (Iona Presentation College), ‘I’m all ears’, 2018 oil on canvas, audio file and oil on headphones three parts: two at 50.5 x 40.5 cm each; Headphones with audio: duration 2:42 min. Full work below:

Please follow and like us:
Abstract art work in shades of ochre and grey/blue
Calendar, Installation, May 19, Visual arts

Visual Arts: Penumbra II by Tessa Beale and Bina Butcher

10 May @ The Lobby, Swanbourne ·
Presented by The Lobby ·

Penumbra II is the second iteration of a collaborative body of work between Bina Butcher and Tessa Beale.

The work focuses on contemplating what is frequently overlooked in the natural world. The installation exposes textures, colours and forms that highlight detail and offer new perspectives on conventional ways of seeing components of the landscape. These responses range from drawing, sculpture, sound, film, print and photography to documented interventions in the environment. This forms the basis of an installation that aims to create the conditions for slower, quieter consideration of our surroundings and our place in the natural world.

Friday 10th May 2019,  6:30pm – 8:30pm
The Lobby,  | 11a Rob Roy Street, Swanbourne, 0410 461 622
RSVP is essential | Thursday 9th May

More info
W: http://www.thelobbyperth.com.au
E:  thelobby@optusnet.com.au

Please follow and like us:
columns of light, with fragmented, stained-glass window like walls
Installation, News, Reviews, Video, Visual arts

Glow in the park

Review: ARTTRA Light Festival ·
Claremont Park, 5-7 April ·
By Belinda Hermawan ·

Returning for its second year, the ARTTRA Light Festival showcased 16 original light installations in a family-friendly outdoor setting, after dark. Having attended last year’s spectacular debut, I was looking forward to another display of innovative, one-of-a-kind artworks.

Amongst the highlights of this year’s Festival was Roly Skender’s Flywire film, which was expertly projected on a screen installed between two trees. The mesmerising projection used shifting geometric shapes and lines to create movement in the night sky.

Another favourite was Combs VJ’s box installation, which also made use of monochromatic audio-visuals, with the encased pyramid and mirrored sides creating an eye-catching effect, all set to perfectly timed beats. Also well-engineered was Naz Sumadi’s playful, origami-inspired Mechanical Morph, an ever-transforming pinwheel.

Both interactive and highbrow, Wilma van Boxtel’s Love Seat was more than a park bench. Her illumination recreated the red velvet seats of a theatre and encouraged community members to take a moment to sit and enjoy art together. Also using the park space to advantage were the three rock-like pillars of Sean Adamas’s colour-changing Crystallines (pictured top), Glenda Dixon’s Coloured Clouds that lined tree canopies with wool felt lamps, and ARTTRA Prize winner Per Aspera ad Astra by Amy Perejuan-Capone, the shimmering gold geodesic dome evoking a playground atmosphere.

A dome, lit golden
ARTTRA 2019 winner Amy Perejuan-Capone, inside her installation ‘Per Aspera ad Astra’.

Strolling through the grounds of Claremont Park, I was struck by how much families were enjoying themselves amongst the art. Children were actively engaging with pieces, running in and out of spaces, asking questions, playing games, taking photos, and watching moving images intently. Participants could play a Tetris-inspired video game by stepping on a control-board, walk in front of an animation playing on a theatre-sized screen, or pose for portraits with rainbows. Paired with a program of live entertainment, craft activities and food trucks, the festival atmosphere this year felt more palpable and inviting.

It was, perhaps, fitting that the work I came across first, and came back to again out of continued curiosity, was Joanna Sulkowski’s clever yet ambiguous neon banner Not What You Expected. We bring our own expectations to events, and there seemed to be a shift in focus from last year’s event. If the objective of this year’s festival was to raise the interactivity level to make the event more accessible for families – particularly those with primary school-aged children – then it was undeniably a success.

The trade-off, however, was a variation in production quality and consistency of theme between pieces. I felt there were two exhibitions this year: a collection of ground-breaking art-works worthy of a professional gallery, interspersed with what appeared to be a lower-budget set, for child’s play. I found, too, that the presence of promotional material interfered with the experience, with one installation risking the appearance of a market stall.

That said, the Town of Claremont has set an excellent example of what local governments can do to actively promote arts and culture amongst all ages. Harking back to childhood memories of glow-in-the-dark stickers and recreational star-gazing, ARTTRA Light Festival celebrates the sense of awe that comes with illumination and discovery. Fittingly, the installation that best encapsulated this spirit of wonder was that of Freshwater Bay Primary School’s entry: a spectacular field of papier mâché mushrooms of all sizes, glowing iridescently through silhouettes of fairy tales. It was pleasing to see this generation producing art as well as consuming it – the future is indeed bright.

Pictured top is Sean Adamas’s ‘Crystallines’.

Please follow and like us:
Selection of handmade cards
Calendar, May 19, Music, Visual arts

Artisan Market: Perth Makers Market – Applecross

19 May @ Heathcote Cultural Precinct, Applecross ·
Presented by Perth Makers Market ·

Perth Makers Market is Perth’s premier handmade artisan market and offers high quality handmade crafters from WA an opportunity to sell their goods and a great time for everyone at a family friendly event. With over 150 stalls to browse from, food to keep your tummy happy and kids’ activities including the fantastic on site pirate ship playground it’s going to be a great day out for the whole family.

Also on site during the market:
– Artist Open Studios
– Art Gallery and Museum open
– BWG Restaurant (bookings required)
– Buskers
– Giant Garden Games
– Pirate Ship Playground

Heathcote Cultural Precinct is at 58 Duncraig Road, Applecross

More info
W: www.facebook.com/events/537248760057199/?active_tab=about
E:  enquiries@perthmakersmarket.com

Please follow and like us:
A man doing a handstand on a desk in a formal meeting chamber
News, Reviews, Video, Visual arts

A timely take on migration and displacement

Candice Breitz & Angelica Mesiti, ‘REFUGE’ ·
John Curtin Gallery, 7 April 2019 ·
Review by Jenny Scott ·

Splitting the John Curtin Gallery into two distinct viewing spaces, ‘REFUGE’ presents a pair of cinematic video installations that explore the experiences of immigrants and refugees. Curated by Chris Malcolm and Felicity Fenner, and presented in association with the Perth Festival, this exhibition brings together the works of Australian artist Angelica Mesiti, who has been selected to represent Australia in the 2019 Venice Biennale, and South African artist Candice Breitz.

Mesiti’s Mother Tongue (2017) is a dreamy two channel video work featuring members of a diverse range of communities from Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark. Initially inspired by the Danish tradition of communal singing, Mesiti has recorded her subjects in the act of private and communal performances – four dancers link arms as they lunge in sync around a wet asphalt square, a three-piece band plays on sofas in an ornate living room, a man slowly executes perfectly-balanced handstands across the benches of a formal meeting chamber. Presented without didactic information, these strangely beautiful portraits unite to form a hypnotic reverie that encourages reflection on diversity, community, and the practice of “living” cultural heritage.

Mesiti’s evocative imagery is also sleekly edited – the singing of an assembly of enthusiastic Danish school children synchronises with, and then fades out into, the rhythmic wordless drumming of the Ramallah Boy Scouts troupe practising their routine while crowded around a table. This juxtaposition of footage across two screens creates shifting points of cohesion and difference, evoking the lived experiences of migrants integrating into new places after being displaced from their home countries. Despite running at 18 minutes, Mother Tongue is easily re-watchable, with each viewing offering new moments of captured intimacy.

Alec Baldwin in 'Love Story'.
Alex Baldwin in Candice Breitz’s ‘Love Story’ (still), 2016. 7-Channel Installation, featuring Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Outset Germany and Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. Courtesy: Goodman Gallery, Kaufmann Repetto, KOW and Anna Schwartz Gallery.

In the second half of the gallery is Breitz’s multi-channel video installation Love Story (2016). Approaching this work, gallery visitors are first confronted with a large screen showing footage of famous actors Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore, each recounting extremely personal testimonies of displacement, war, and violence. In an easily overlooked adjoining room, six smaller screens present these same stories – although this time spoken by the refugee subjects who actually experienced them. Cleverly installed as if they are sitting across from you, the refugees on each of these screens recount their stories in long, unflinching detail – in direct contrast with the snappy edited soundbites of the recognisable Hollywood stars.

It is a confronting work for many reasons – the sheer amount of video content, the harrowing stories of each refugee, and the ridiculousness of Alec Baldwin lamenting the difficulty of travelling on a Somalian passport. While Breitz’s provocative use of famous actors almost feels like too much of a novelty, the underlying message is clear – the viewer is challenged to consider which stories and storytellers we privilege, where we direct our empathy and attention, and what we feel comfortable to watch.

In a timely exhibition worthy of sustained consideration, the works of ‘REFUGE’ present a thoughtful and sophisticated examination of migration and displacement.

“Refuge” closes April 18.

Pictured top is  a still from ‘Mother Tongue’, 2017. Two-channel high definition colour video installation and surround sound, 17 minutes 54 seconds. Photography: Bonnie Elliot. Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.

Please follow and like us: