polar permaculture dome in Longyearbyen, Svalbard.
Film, Installation, News, Reviews, Visual arts

Under the dome

Review: Amy Perejuan-Capone, “This Is How We Walk on the Moon” ·
Artsource Old Customs House ·
Review by Belinda Hermawan ·

In a dark corner of Fremantle, guests wielded umbrellas in frigid and blustery conditions, battling horizontal rain, all to reach the opening night of Amy Perejuan-Capone’s “This Is How We Walk on the Moon”. The scene could not have been more fitting for an exhibition described by its Perth-based maker as “hope and inspired curiosity in the High Arctic”. Here in the seemingly endless night was a breathtaking, dynamic set of installation works that called to our sense of adventure.

Perejuan-Capone’s visit to Longyearbyen, Svalbard (Norway) earlier this year serves as a springboard for an enquiry into the dual pursuits of knowledge and resilience. The northernmost permanently settled place in the world, Longyearbyen is home to the Global Seed Vault and the world’s largest satellite stations. The recurring geodesic domes in this exhibition are effective on several levels, echoing the structure of permaculture greenhouses, aircraft and survival shelters, space exploration motifs and playground jungle-gyms. It is through a hand-built geometric scaffold that we view audio visual footage of a ship breaking through ice in One moment there. We then see footage of an actual permaculture greenhouse play on the small screen in the title installation This Is How We Walk on the Moon, the structure flashing pink like a beacon – an atmosphere recreated in the site-responsive intervention found in the ante-room, with its hot pink backlighting, plastic sheeting and containment.

There is a strength to this chosen geometric form. The dome in the centrepiece Every Step is Moving Me Up is constructed from aluminium and reminiscent of the metal frame of a hang glider. The magic of this piece, installed to capitalise on the venue’s atrium, is in watching the featured parachute inflate. Observers can hear and see the rush of air, the parachute’s movement evoking the freedom of floating in a hot air balloon or the memory of running under a parachute with thirty other kids in pre-primary, finding delight in the darkness. The pensive wait for the inflation is redolent of hope amidst uncertainty; the lull between bursts of artificial snow in New Snow/Clean Up is similarly poised with potential and anticipation.

Featuring sesame and poppy seeds vibrating on discs at high frequency, the installation One tiny, tiny, tiny, move/It’s all I need and I jump over is entrancing. The black seeds quiver like white noise, as if depicting an attempted transmission themselves, while the lighter seeds jump on the mirrored surface as though alive, leaving a crescent-shaped recess in their midst. While this last is an unintentional effect of the slightly uneven flooring in the building, it seems an excellent example of perseverance in the face of disruption.

“This Is How We Walk on the Moon” is a highly successful exhibition that taps into our natural sense of wonder and our instinct to survive. While humankind was curious well before the dawn of space exploration, space represents the next frontier, and there is something deeply captivating about imagining the ends of the Earth, the doorstep to beyond.

Perejuan-Capone’s unlikely experiment in the middle of a Perth winter is not to be missed – brave the conditions, for it will be worth it.

“This Is How We Walk on the Moon” is showing at Artsource Old Customs House until 29 July 29. 

Pictured top: A polar permaculture dome in Longyearbyen, Svalbard. The dome features in video work ‘This Is How We Walk on the Moon’. Photo: Amy Perejuan-Capone.