Features, Festivals, Forums, Lectures and Talks, News, Opinion, Visual arts, Workshops

Artists take aim at canon

Perth artists Gabby Loo and Steven James Finch will be exploring a new approach to the Western canon of art and culture at this weekend’s Disrupted: Festival of Ideas. Entitled “Epistemicide in the Western art canon”, their workshop is about making visible the alienation experienced by people of colour in the face of this cultural monolith. Nina Levy spoke to the pair to find out more.

Gabby Loo and Steven James Finch. Photo: Tasha Faye.

Nina Levy: Tell me about yourselves and your artistic practice.
Steven James Finch: I am an early-career community artist with migrant settler heritage living on stolen lands. I have an ongoing concern about care, culture and ethical art practices in the face of ecological collapse and climate disaster. I recently become interested in decoloniality of the illegal state of Australia and solidarity with First Nations people.

I have edited literary journals, built and lived in nomadic off-grid structures, curated festivals and visual art exhibitions, produced Fringe performances, written and performed poetry, literature and performance art. Throughout I have tried to constantly ask what is the best way of living and caring for each other and for all beings? How can we be good, curious, just and truthful?

Gabby Loo: I am an emerging multidisciplinary artist and community arts facilitator based on the stolen lands of the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation. I am a second-generation migrant of Shan and Hakka ancestry.

In my personal arts practice I enjoy visually exploring my intersectional identities and autobiographical histories, of past and future self. I tend to accompany these ideas with fictionalised and surreal elements. I currently explore these ideas through illustration, comics, photography, textile works and small sculptures.

I am a co-director of Paper Mountain, creator of the CaLD & ATSI Creatives of WA online community group and I co-coordinate the ongoing community arts project Belonging with Aisyah Sumito, a local artist and curator. Belonging is a Noongar boodja-based community arts initiative with an aim to provide a safe space for artists to express ideas of self and identity, to make art, and have a voice with a particular focus on platforming Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CaLD) and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) youth. We host communal workshops, meet ups and forums.

NL: What has shaped your artistic practices?
SJF: During my degree, when I thought being an author was a relatively straightforward process of releasing books, I developed an interest in the ethics of Soren Kierkegaard. Ethics for me became tied to aesthetics and interrelationality or spirit. I roughly remember Kierkegaard describing the ethical way as watching the face of someone who is perfectly responding to an imperfect but youthful actor on stage. So, for me, initially, creative practice and meaning-making is tied into ideas of being good and living ethically. So, instead of a solitary writer I’ve become committed to helping others express themselves. I have learned from running a magazine with my peers and putting in a lot of volunteer hours; from living off-grid in a nomadic structure in a backyard, hosting dinners about the end of the world; from running an artist run initiative; and from doing all of this while living in economic precarity.

What really helped me get to where I am today is meeting and working with incredible and good people, like Gabby Loo, Amber Boyatzis, Vidya Rajan, Claire Bushby, Alina Tang, Janet Carter and people on the dotdotdash and Paper Mountain team, people from Aunty Mabel’s Zine Distro. This led me to a key moment in 2016 when I was doing a short course with the Centre for Cultural Partnerships at the University of Melbourne, when Tania Cañas was a tutor, and spoke of how Western pedagogy and education had led to this widespread epistemicide, the death of the diversity of knowledge. From that moment, I began to take my community arts work more seriously. In speaking with our collaborators from the “Seasons, Histories, Hopes” exhibition at the SLWA, I have learned so much about who I am and what knowledge I can share with my cultures and communities – one of which, from Walter Mignolo and others, is the idea of decolonial aesthetics.

GL: In 2017 I graduated from UWA with a Fine Arts Major. I’ve been a freelance independent artist and community arts facilitator ever since. As an artist of colour I am driven to create change in the Perth arts and foster culturally safe spaces for marginalised identities.

My arts practice was shaped by personal experiences of art as therapy, a means of self-empowerment and self-acceptance. As a gender queer young person of colour, my lived experiences are laden with intersectional discrimination and the battle against harmful effects this has on my well-being. As I move towards my future, with my past as a reminder in my back pocket, I’m always learning how to unpack the internalised harm and decolonising my modes of thinking and foster positive attitude of self-realisation for myself and others.

My lived experiences and learning from peers who have also been through similar experiences are very relevant to the core of my practice, guiding how I work with individuals in communities and build creative communities which value cultural safety and decoloniality. As an artist based on stolen Whadjuk Noongar land, it is my hope that I can support creative spaces that foster intercultural solidarity, amplify the voices of BIPOC folx (Black, Indigenous, and People of colour), and learning the truth about our cultural histories (colonial erasure and Western Euro-centrism sucks big time!).

NL: How did you meet? And how did you come to collaborate?
GL: We met while volunteering at Paper Mountain, an artist-run-initiative and gallery on William Street in Northbridge. One of the first projects we worked on was during KickstART Festival 2017 for WA Youth Week. Steve, who was the Festival Coordinator at the time, asked me to run a community workshop series and exhibition for migrant and refugee background youth, supported by OMI, Propel Youth Arts WA and North Metro TAFE. It was then that the ongoing community arts project Belonging was born.

SJF: I approached Gabby to ask if they wanted to run a series of art workshops for the Office of Multicultural Interests. It was all a bit last minute, and a process that was a bit stressful for Gabby, but they really stepped up. Belonging became a beautiful ongoing project. For the State Library exhibition, I spoke to Gabby as I was applying for the fellowship. Initially we were going to do two separate individual projects, but as we spoke together and organised community gatherings, we realised that the project needed a many-voices approach to the idea of Asian identity in WA, and so it became a group project we co-facilitated.

NL: You recently co-curated and presented Seasons, Histories, Hopes at the State Library of WA, a group exhibition about Asian migrant history in WA that is the culmination of the year-long research project Imagined Migrant Future. In the exhibition catalogue you talk about how the project evolved over the year. Can you talk us through that process of evolution, and what the project uncovered for you?
GL: The Western framework of archives, libraries and museums use the white gaze to constrict the living cultural practices and everyday objects of people into palatable stereotypes and racist imaginaries.

SJF: We entered the State Library space knowing this, but also assuming that people who work in the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums) Sector would be aware. What we found were State Library materials, signage, and processes that seemed unaware of the inherited racist structures they were replicating. We also experienced racism from some staff members; people who would tell us our research project was misguided or unimportant in focusing on Asian migration, or who would assume that we did not belong in the staff areas or that we must be cleaners. Our fellowship itself was named after James Sykes Battye, chief librarian of the State Library, who in his Cyclopedia of Western Australia only mentions Chinese people once, and that is in reference to there being a State budget surplus and a discussion by the government on acquiring cheap labour to further increase the surplus. I wish to mention that there were also staff members who were helpful and professional, that this is not about a series of isolated incidents, but about how ongoing racist structures are perpetuated by administrative organisations.

GL: Despite these disheartening experiences there was always a strong feeling of hope when we met with our exhibiting artists. Sitting together and discussing with other non-white people our struggles with racism, both external and internal, our specific cultural knowledge and histories, and being heard as humans rather than as racialised identities was incredibly empowering. We have documented a lot of our experiences and our histories in  the documentary Imagined Migrant Futures by Michelle Vuaillat and our exhibition catalogue.

NL: And you will be presenting a workshop this month as part of the Disrupted Festival of Ideas: Epistemicide in the Western Art Canon. Firstly, for those who don’t know, what is epistemicide?
SJF: Epistemicide is the colonial act of killing knowledges. It is a term used by Boaventura De Sousa Santos in the book Epistemologies of the South: Justice Against Epistemicide to describe how colonial powers destroy language, ancestral ties, memories and culture of subordinated groups. We’ve found this term useful in understanding current monologic expressions of culture. As local artists we’ve found that there is a violent process of meaning-making predicated on erasing and writing over the lived cultural truths of First Nations people and People of Colour that is, unfortunately, quite prevalent today, even from well-meaning individuals. And so we feel this is a much needed conversation to be had with our community.

NL: And what will the workshop involve?
SJF & GL: During the workshop we will be looking at the following ideas:

  • Unpacking the constructions of truth, particularly as defined by Western Euro-centric efforts at universal truths through the erasure of cultures, languages and diversity.
  • Specific histories that uncover cultural bias and theft, particularly during the Enlightenment and Modernity.
  • Identifying and discussing international/local decolonial art histories and repatriation efforts.
  • The effects of representation on lived and racialised bodies.
  • Reference to other efforts in decolonial thought and activism.
  • Fun!

NL: Who do you hope to see at the workshop? 
GL: We hope to meet an array of people who are art admirers, artists and art workers. They do not need to have any training/experience. However, we hope those with a keen interest in truth-telling will attend and learn how our histories are documented and shaped through art.

SJF: Anyone that has ever, like me, been seduced into liking Western culture and the Western art canon, and as a result have gone through periods of real self-doubt and self-hate and shame and racial dysphoria. This space is for you. These are the truths that have always been there. Your lived experience, your cultures, your childhood: they are all as valuable and deserving as any of this.

Disrupted: Festival of Ideas takes place at the State Library of Western Australia on July 27 and 28. It is a free event. 

“Epistemicide in the Western art canon” is fully booked but you can join the waitlist here.

 

Pictured top: Gabby Loo. Photo: Giselle Natassia Woodley.

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

Cruising the cubicles

Review: Benjamin Bannan, Brent Harrison and Wade Taylor, ‘looking now anyone here?’ ·
Paper Mountain ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·

Benjamin Bannan, Brent Harrison and Wade Taylor have produced an ode to the public toilet as a space of liberation.  Their group exhibition is a tender and personal homage to these spaces, which are cast variously as historical and current, dangerous yet comforting, and sanitised yet erotic.

In an exhibition by three young artists exploring gay beats, it’s easy to assume that there would be huge differences between contemporary experiences of cruising and 1980s and 90s experiences of men who have sex with men (MSM) , most obviously due to the invention of smartphones and the ubiquitous hook-up apps. However, it’s clear that whilst some things change, some things stay the same. The spaces and places of illicit pleasure have always been centred on the search for physical connection, whether in a public space or through the relative privacy of a phone screen. Amongst people whose desires are other than hetero, there’s also the pleasure of finding yourself in history, of knowing that your actions and behaviours have a grounding in the people and behaviours of the past – of a community. For this reason, in an exhibition focused on secret (yet public) sex between MSM, it’s impossible not to think about the importance of having these links to an ongoing lineage that has been so decimated in recent history.

This lineage comes through clearly in the works, with each artist’s practice focusing on the ongoing relevance of these beats to their practice and identity. Brent Harrison takes apart each benign aspect of a toilet cubicle to show it in a singular light: a hand drier, a soap dispenser, a waste paper bin overflowing with used paper towels. Here, the clean innocuous plastic items take on a larger significance within themselves. This is particularly with the glistening, lurid puddle of hand soap overflowing from its vessel, defying its original purpose as it utterly fails to achieve any kind of attempt at hygiene. In this way, the objects are truly queered, refusing a purpose bestowed on them whilst achieving some other kind of function altogether – as active agents of desire.

Wade Taylor’s series of oil paintings represent the outside of various toilet blocks, capturing them as abandoned, anticipatory sites of fleeting pleasure, but also as places where danger can await. In a contrast to the mass-produced conceptual designs of Harrison’s installation, there’s an element of the personal to Taylor’s oil paintings, the aging, under-maintained toilet blocks representing the frisson of an exciting encounter minutes away, or of an imminent threat of violence from the unknown other, but either way a space of everyday normality that still provides a promise of escape.

Opening night guests take in the works. Photo: Supplied.

Central to the exhibition is the cubicle itself, a recreated structure built by Benjamin Bannan, in which the viewer must finally enter. Crouching to an uncomfortably low level (but not quite low enough to be on one’s knees), you look through a meticulously drilled glory hole, to watch the video Other Side of Glory (1998), by local gay filmmaker Neil Buckley. The film chronicles the history of beats, successfully uniting the lineage between these younger gay male artists and the wider history of beats in Western Australia. In the privacy of the cubicle space, the viewer is placed in position, a participant rather than an onlooker in the codes and behaviours of cruising. From casual observer to active participant, you are unavoidably implicated in the event as it unfolds in front of you, and reaches backwards throughout history.

‘looking now anyone here?’ runs until May 31.

Please follow and like us:
A woman crouched against a wall of an art gallery studio
Dance, News, Performing arts, Reviews

Snack-sized dance

Review: Ana Music and April Vardy, Susan and The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I create it” ·
Paper Mountain, 30 January ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Running at less than half an hour, Ana Music and April Vardy’s double bill of contemporary dance makes for a perfect pre-show show, a performance hors d’oeuvre of sorts that finishes with enough time to get to a 7.30pm main course at any of the other Northbridge Fringe venues.

The two short solos that make up the bill are certainly snack-sized and easily digestible, appropriate given that these two local choreographers are in the very early stages of their careers as makers. First on the menu is Susan. Choreographed and performed by Music, it’s a light-hearted tribute, of sorts, to her parents.

The Paper Mountain gallery space makes for an intimate viewing experience but Music boldly meets our eyes as she charges past in a folk-style dance that pays homage to her Serbian roots. Fast paced, it makes the spoken interlude that follows something of a challenge but she catches her breath eventually and keeps us entertained with her observations. The movement that follows sees her roll and fall to ambient electronic sounds. Jagged pacing is followed by long lunges. Though there’s not an obvious link  between this movement and the parental reflections, Music is an engaging performer and holds our attention with ease.

Vardy’s self-devised and performed solo, The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I create it, is an abstract concoction that sees her swing and fold smoothly through the space. Against a jittery soundscape, Vardy appears coolly elegant. As the beat drops, she becomes loose, her hips rolling and circling, her spine rippling, as though the music has possessed her body. Having watched Vardy perform since she was a student, this seems like a new moment for her, a pleasing progression in her performance style.

The two solos don’t feel particularly connected by anything other than the fact that they appear on the same program – a marriage of convenience, perhaps? Nonetheless, the double bill makes for a pleasant start to the night.

Susan and The place in which I’ll fit will not exist until I create it play Paper Mountain until February 2.

Pictured top is Ana Music in ‘Susan’.

Please follow and like us:
A woman posing into front of a projection of a man.
Fringe World, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Visual arts

Interrogating toxic masculinity

Fringe World review: Bonnie Lane, How to be a Better Man in 2019 ·
Paper Mountain ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·

As a performance and dance artist whose work uses stereotypically “sexy” imagery of her own body, Bonnie Lane has archived the messages she’s been sent by men, mostly through Instagram, over the past few years. In her performance, How to be a Better Man in 2019, the Australian born, New York-based artist presents them with a healthy dose of commentary. Her aims in collecting and responding to these messages is to educate (straight white) men on how to avoid the pitfalls of modern social media communication that – all too often – these same men fall back on: dick pics, frankly weird DMs (direct messages), and, when these first two strategies inevitably fail, gender-based insults, slut-shaming and rape threats.

On opening night, Lane was obviously nervous, and as the performance – which is really more of a presentation – continued, the emotional effect that her archive has had upon her psyche became clear. I can understand why – ten minutes into the show I was already feeling emotionally drained by the sheer weight of fairly nauseating, sleazy, or outright pornographic screenshots of messages looping continuously as Lane spoke. I cannot imagine what it would be like to receive these on a daily basis, let alone return to the material to compile it into a work.

Lane has many insightful comments concerning her attempts to respond to, or educate these men who message her on a constant basis, as well as several interesting and provocative points about who “owns” or even gets to “identify with” artwork of women’s bodies. However, the show is unfocused as a whole, more like a workshop for the artist than for the audience, with material that is so draining in its sheer volume that Lane’s performance seems encumbered, not empowered by it. It feels as though she started out to make a work that would examine this archive and ultimately reclaim it, undermining its power, but I am not convinced that it succeeds in this aim. If anything, this proves the absolute necessity of interrogating the role of toxic masculinity in our culture, a job that seems to have exhausted Lane. I hope she can dig her way out of her archive.

How to be a Better Man in 2019 runs at Paper Mountain until February 2.

Please follow and like us:
A woman dancing in a red unitard decorated in pompons. She is on her back, with her legs bent and her pelvis arching up.
Dance, Fringe World, News, Reviews

Strangely compelling

Fringe World review: Sophia Natale, Flesh and Bone ·
Paper Mountain, 24 January ·
Review by Nina Levy ·

Arriving at Paper Mountain to see local independent dance artist Sophia Natale’s Flesh and Bone, we are  handed a piece of paper. It’s not a program, but a letter from Natale to her audience. In it, she confesses that the description of her work contained in the Fringe program was written “on a whim, the night before the Fringe event applications closed … it does not reflect what my show is truly about.”

It’s an endearing confession. It’s also a common issue for independent artists – that one often has to describe a work, before it’s been made – but I’ve not come across any who decided to ‘fess up at showtime until now.

That honesty sets the tone for the work that follows, a structured improvisation in which, says Natale, she aims “to embody a being that represents communication in its purest form; emotion.”

The performance itself takes place in Paper Mountain’s gallery, a long but narrow room. The audience sits on cushions around its edges, so that the performance space is enclosed by viewers. Natale slips into this enclosure through a gap between bodies, her own body folded in half at the hips. Panther-like, she makes her way around the space on all fours, lithe and long, taking little sniffs of air, as though searching for a scent.

Sometimes she sniffs at audience members, leaning in close, as if to rest her head on their shoulders. Other times she looks at us nervously, as though preparing for flight.

Sporadically she breaks into phrases of movement. Now she arches, flips and curls snail-style. Now she creates a loop between hand and foot through which she threads her other limbs, with an elasticity that comes from years of dance training, but in this context brings to mind something inhuman, a snake perhaps?

I could watch her move like this for the full 60-minute duration, but projected footage, first of rocket launches, then of a horse giving birth, break the spell. Almost against my will, I find myself mesmerised by the explosive and sometimes catastrophic launches, and then the struggle of mare and foal. Natale’s creature is visibly distressed by these events but it’s hard to watch both dancer and video at the same time.

The sections involving projection feel disjointed – the rough segues, intentional or otherwise, add to this sense of discord. It appears that Natale is investigating the relationship between humans, technology and nature… but the parameters seem too broad.

Nonetheless, there is something strangely compelling about the “being” that Natale creates. As she says in her letter, she sees herself as being in the “infantile stages of… exploration”, and this performance has the quality of a work-in-progress rather than a complete work.

But it’s not often we’re afforded the opportunity to see work in its early stages of development… and when that work is performed by a dancer as physically articulate as Natale?

It’s a joy to be allowed to watch.

Pictured top: Sophia Natale in ‘Flesh and Bone’.

Please follow and like us:
Head of Lady leaning on paper
Calendar, Fringe World, Performance art, Performing arts, Visual arts

Visual Arts: How To Be A Better Man in 2019

30 Jan – 2 Feb @ Paper Mountain ·
Presented by Paper Mountain ·

Part of Peaks 2019, Paper Mountain’s program of visual art and performance for
Fringe World Festival

In a highly charged performance artwork, Bonnie Lane presents a humorous workshop that is open to all, while aiming to educate the heterosexual male on the role of masculinity in 2019. The artist invites critical debate by sharing personal anecdotes, historical references, videos, and provocative dance routines that will have the audience questioning ‘how far have we really progressed?’

Bonnie Lane is a multidisciplinary artist who unapologetically creates and responds to sexually explicit content, including but not limited to the public presentation of her body as an object of desire. This project is a direct response to the multiple requests sent from her male fans on social media, asking that she please ‘teach them’ how to navigate  the contemporary woman in this time of uncertainty.

More info:
www.facebook.com/events/1189235674562001/

Pictured:
Bonnie Lane

Please follow and like us:
FEMME
Calendar, Fringe World, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: FEMME

14-17 February @ Paper Mountain ·
Presented by Catface Productions ·

Join femme-identifying performers of the Fringe as they tell their stories through different mediums; all stripping down society’s expectations and taboos, speaking about what stigma silences. Sexual and political, cathartic and heartfelt, provocative and vulnerable, FEMME is about performers sharing intimate details; their stories. Our stories.

FEMME is a fusion of intimate story-telling and performance art curated by veteran burlesque performer Lola Cherry Cola. Each night the performers will explore themes of physical, mental and emotional health, what it truly means to be healthy, and how society shuns us when we are unhealthy. Stripping more than clothes and revealing more than skin, smashing stigmas and speaking on taboo. We are here. We are FEMME.

More info
W: https://www.fringeworld.com.au/whats_on/femme-fw2019
E:  lolashouseoftease@gmail.com

Please follow and like us:
Text Roulette
Calendar, Fringe World, Performance art, Performing arts, Theatre

Performance Art: Text Roulette

19 – 25 January @ Paper Mountain ·
Presented by Finn O’Branagain ·

It’s hard to know what to say sometimes. Is there a message you need to send? Maybe you need to tell your crush you can’t stop thinking about them, tell a partner about a little STI you have, reconnect with a sibling you haven’t spoken to in years, tell your housemate to stop leaving wet towels on the floor, send condolences to a friend with a death in the family. If you can’t find the words, play Text Roulette and let Finn O’Branagáin draft them for you — then send, save, delete, or ask for a sign. Sign up to anonymously have your text drafted, or purchase a ticket to see the process unfold.

A hit at The Blue Room Theatre’s Winter  Nights Program 2018!

Part of Peaks 2019, Paper Mountain’s program of visual art and performance for Fringe World Festival.

More info
W: www.facebook.com/events/395615867846483/
E:  finn.obranagain@gmail.com

Pictured: Text Roulette, credit: David Cox Media

Please follow and like us:
Number 16 - A Work in Progress Showing
Calendar, Fringe World, Performing arts, Theatre

Theatre: Number 16 – Work in Progress Showing

31 January @ Paper Mountain ·
Presented by Finn O’Branagain ·

The world’s oldest recorded spider died in WA’s wheatbelt in early 2018 from a wasp sting. She was 43 years old. News of her travelled all over the world and was featured in The Washington Post, The Smithsonian, National Geographic, CNN and TIME. This is the story of her life, and last few days. This is a one-woman show from the point of view of the spider, starring Andrea Gibbs (8 Gigabytes of Hardcore Pornography) and written by Finn O’Branagáin (The Epic, Medusa, Selkie).

Proud recipient of the FRINGE WORLD Inspiring Australia STEM-Arts Grant.

More info:
www.facebook.com/events/547034079092778/permalink/554157828380403/

Picture credit: Leanda Mason

Please follow and like us:
On a white table is a hardback novel and the receiver of an old-fashioned black bakelite phone
News, Reviews, Visual arts

In the face of catastrophe

Review: Jenn Garland, ‘Dark Skies Ahead’ ·
Paper Mountain ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·

“Dark Skies Ahead”, currently at Paper Mountain, is another exhibition presented as part of SymbioticA’s Unhallowed Arts festival. Curated by Jenn Garland, the exhibition responds to the 200-year anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by reflecting on the specificities of the climate at the time the book was written, using this as a starting point from which to examine the responses to our own current period of climate change. For Frankenstein was written in the “year without a summer” – a period of extreme weather triggered by a volcanic eruption in present-day Indonesia. In our present of impending climate doom and catastrophe, this exhibition is concerned with questioning, in Garland’s words, “what we can draw from Mary Shelley’s cautionary tale of unnatural life borne of unrestricted techno-science.”

The works in this exhibition by Angela Garrick, Kynan Tan and Devon Ward, Amy Perejuan-Capone, Kira O’Reilly and Jennifer Willet, and Nathan John Thompson articulate or make concrete the abstract yet alarming fear of impending climate devastation, through creative use of data, emotions, bodies, text or the materiality of the weather itself. In doing so, they consider the ways in which science and technology contain the potential for either rapid progress or total destruction.

Many of the works deal directly with the weather, either to make visible the ways in which it impacts our daily life as a constant material force and an immaterial backdrop to our social interactions, emotions, and politics. Kynan Tan and Devon Ward’s Co•–st•–l W•–ve Tr•–nsl•–tor converts data from buoys in the Indian and Pacific Ocean near the islands of Manus and Nauru into waves of sound. Providing a memorable entry-point into the exhibition, the speakers stand guard near the doorway, sentries that invite – or challenge – the viewer to walk between them. The work makes unavoidable that which is rarely productively discussed in Australian political discourse – both the sea of data relating to our changing climate as well as the toxic political climate and literal environment experienced by refugees imprisoned by the Australian government on these tropical islands.

Other works deal with the humour and pathos of weather-related issues in our daily lives. Angela Garrick’s participatory work encourages us to have a “weather vent” whilst reflecting on the now-defunct ways in which communities have historically communicated in regional areas – an insight that is carried into Nathan John Thompson’s Your future self is watching you through your memories. Here, our changing relationship with technology is reiterated through quotes stretching back through history. Thompson’s work succinctly articulates the stuttering pace at which science and technology changes and mutates – sometimes ahead, sometimes behind our own comprehension of its capabilities. This suggestion of progress, real or imagined, is carried through into Kira O’Reilly and Jennifer Willet’s Untitled (Pig Tales and Showgirls Protocol) in which the sterility of lab environment is undermined, as the messy activity of biotechnological progress unfolds, questioning the ethicality of science that privileges human aims above all else.

A water colour painting. It is an abstract image, vaguely egg shaped and shades of blue that are almost violet but not quite.
Amy Perejuan-Capone, ‘Holding Breath’, 2018.

Amy Perejuan-Capone’s works were produced on the other side of the globe in the world’s northernmost permanent settlement – Longyearbyen, Svalbard. Her delicate prints were left outside in the freezing temperatures as they dried, with the extreme weather leaving fascinating and intricate patterns that variously look like cracking ice, the surface of the moon, shells on the beach, an ultrasound of the body, and cell samples viewed through a microscope. In these works, the weather is re-centred as an active participant in the complex ecology that makes up our world; a participant that has agency and presence of its own beyond that of human activity.

The distinct and moving works in “Dark Skies Ahead” together interrogate the specificities of location and local environments whilst articulating the large, anonymous sea of data and information that announces the arrival of impending climate disaster.

“Dark Skies Ahead” runs until November 10.

Pictured top: Angela Garrick, “Weather Vent”, 2014-, Document Photo.

Please follow and like us: