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Perth Festival review: Felicity Fenner (curator), Love Displaced ·
Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery ·
Review by Jess Boyce ·

Curated by Felicity Fenner, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery’s Perth Festival exhibition “Love, Displaced” seeks connection and intimacy in the 21st Century. The all-video exhibition features the work of Jacobus Capone, Richard Lewer (NZ), Tracey Moffatt and Gary Hillberg, Christian Thompson, AES+F (Russia), Jeremy Deller and Cecilia Bengolea (UK, Argentina/France) and Roee Rosen (Israel).

Singing of brotherly love, Christian Thompson stars in his 2014 work Refuge. Alone on a white screen, the artist’s voice is accompanied by a piano as he stares down the camera in an intimate interaction between artist and viewer. Though sung without translation in his native Bidjara language, the commanding ballad powerfully conveys the emotion of the words.

A close up of a man playing the piano accordion
Jacobus Capone, ‘Volta’ (still), 2016, 2-5 channel video, duration: 53 minutes. Courtesy of the Artist. Commissioned by the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art for NEW16.

Jacobus Capone’s Volta documents his father’s attempt to relearn the piano accordion, an instrument he had not touched since the onset of severe depression that caused him to be psychologically absent from Capone’s life for a number of years. The highly personal film follows an emotional reconnection, not only with a much-loved musical instrument but also with his son. Intimately cropped to accentuate Capone’s father’s body language, the work is installed on two floating screens, allowing viewers to walk amongst the work. Disappointingly, three further channels, documenting other members of Capone’s family watching his father’s performance, were not presented in this iteration.

Like the work of Capone and Thompson, The Dust Channel by Roee Rosen uses music as a narrative device, yet in contrast to the tender insights of the former two works, the strength of this surreal operatic ode to a Dyson vacuum cleaner is in its absurdity. The Dust Channel fetishises the need for cleanliness, whilst reflecting on cultural prejudice, the refugee crisis in Europe, and the plight of Palestine.

Tracey Moffat and Gary Hillberg’s fast paced and erotically charged montage video Other traces interracial encounters in film whilst critiquing the white gaze and the exoticisation of the “other” in pop culture. Beginning with moments depicting first contact between white explorers and local inhabitants, the dynamic film gradually builds to a climax, featuring energetic dance scenes and fevered sexual encounters.

Jeremy Deller and Cecilia Bengolea’s work Bom Bom’s Dream is, curiously, the only work to be displayed on a television rather than projected. Situated in the same room as the work of Moffat and Hillberg, the two dance heavy videos compete for attention. With its bigger screen and out-loud sound, Moffat and Hillberg’s work diminishes the impression of Bom Bom’s Dream.

Inverso Mundus by AES+F presents a hyper-reality in which humans and mythical creatures co-exist and the world is turned upside down; the rich are thrown to the street, pigs murder butchers, and street cleaners litter the cities with waste. The surreal video displaces traditional power balances and social dynamics.

A line drawing of an elderly Indigenous woman leaning on a walking stick
Richard Lewer, ‘Mavis’ still and detail from Never shall be forgotten – a mother’s story, 2017, hand-drawn animation, 5:04 minutes. Courtesy of the artist, Sullivan+Strumpf and Hugo Michell Gallery. © the artist.

In contrast to AES+F’s highly produced and polished animation style, Richard Lewer’s hand drawn imagery and use of an overhead projector as an animation tool allows the viewer to witness the artist’s touch. This insight into the artistic process helps to facilitate a compassionate connection to the narrators of the two stories Never shall be forgotten – a mother’s story and Worse Luck I’m Still Here as they explore the devastating loss of their loved ones.

“Love, Displaced” is a lengthy exhibition. To watch each work in its entirety takes two hours, twenty seven minutes and 33 seconds. Challenging our ever-decreasing attention spans, the exhibition tackles another difficult task: creating genuine connection with an audience through screen-based works whilst also navigating practical issues of sound bleed.

Though these logistical hurdles are met with mixed success, the exhibition is empathetic to the displaced, the marginalised, the downtrodden and the grieving, and looks to ways to reframe connection through community, storytelling, art, song and dance. With an exemplary selection of artists, each work alone is worth a visit.

Catch “Love, Displaced” at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery until May 18.

Pictured top: AES+F, “Inverso Mundus”, Still #1-18, 2015, pigment InkJet print on FineArt Baryta paper, 32×57.5 cm (12.5×22.7 in), edition of 10. Image courtesy of AES+F and Anna Schwartz Gallery.

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