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.
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.
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.
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.
We all know the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the contemporary romantic film. She’s that off-beat, mysterious one, that free thinker who enables the male hero to shake off the shackles of his dull, suburban life… and though she may seem carefree, she’s a problematic figure, defined and delineated by her relationship to a male protagonist.
In “Magical Woman”, an art exhibition curated by Aisyah Aaqil Sumito and Sophie Nixon, she’s being utilised differently, however. A platform for six emerging female and non-binary artists to explore representations of romance in film and popular culture, “Magical Woman” invites artists to use the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope as a starting point to produce a new body of work, while taking into consideration the intersections of racism, misogyny, queer exclusion and trans exclusion. Nina Levy spoke to Sumito and Nixon to find out more.
Nina Levy: I think most of us are familiar with the concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) but can you talk about who the MPDG is and what she represents?
Sophie Nixon: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a colourful and quirky character who exists to uplift, enrich and fulfil the
lives of white-male protagonists. Think of films like 500 days of Summer, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you pay enough attention you may catch these women encouraging the male protagonist to try new things and step outside of his comfort zone.
Manic Pixie Dream Girls are characterised as having bubbly and eclectic exteriors, often partnered with underlying poor mental health; this is often romanticised as being part of their “quirk” to add seeming depth, mystery and intrigue to the character – a plot device in the central character’s narrative.
Aisyah Aaqil Sumito: Referring back to what Sophie said about encouraging centralised male characters to “live”… these characters are infantilised by their inability to communicate their feelings, how they act, and what they enjoy – while simultaneously being granted the emotional capacity to teach these men how to live their lives (almost like mothering). It’s a harmful and unrealistic representation of women that is very ingrained in our ways of seeing things. In more simple terms, it affects the way that we interact, and the warped standards that women and non-binary folk hold ourselves to – even if we don’t fit into the mould of a trope that applies to a very specific demographic.
NL: What made you decide to take the Manic Pixie Dream Girl as the starting point for this exhibition? AAS: “Magical Woman” began as a means to vent about frustrations and representations of women in media. Initially we were only planning to respond to Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope itself – a small, spunky project that we would use to rock the boat. The longer we looked for a venue, the more time I had to actually think about this particular trope and how transgressive critiquing it would actually be, and how beneficial it would be for the artists. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a trope that only applies to white cisgender women. With that considered, I wanted to encourage the artists to go a bit deeper than the trope itself, critically engaging with intersections of racism, misogyny, trans exclusion, and queer exclusion, regardless of what kind of work they decided they would make. For me it’s really important that it is distinguished as a starting point, and that our exhibition is a small contribution to an ever-expanding conversation.
NL: You’re co-curating “Magical Woman” – how did you meet? And what made you decide to work together? AAS: Sophie and I met around February 2017, for an exhibition that I curated alongside Olivia Tartaglia at City Arts Space for Propel Youth Art’s 2017 KickstART Festival “KickstARTISTS: Symbiosis”. Beyond the work we do as artists and as curators, we are good friends. Working together to embody discussions we have on a regular basis, in the form of a curated exhibition, was really beneficial and a huge learning curve for both of us.
SN: Outside of “Magical Woman”, I’m working to complete my honours in Fine Art at Curtin University and hustling odd-jobs. As Aisyah mentioned, we met within the happenings of the “Symbiosis exhibition”. I was a participating artist in mentorship with Jess Day, and Aisyah was co-curator with Olivia Tartaglia in a skillshare/mentorship context. Shortly after that, I produced work for another show that Aisyah curated alongside Claire Bushby. I remember being so in awe (still am to be honest) of Aisyah, their dedication, professionalism and how they carried themselves as a curator. For both of us, this is our first time curating independently (outside the program of a mentorship/institution). Knowing Aisyah and I were in this together made the process of applying for shows and grants so much easier, I don’t know if I would have had the same amount of courage, ambition and motivation if they weren’t there.
NL: You’re both emerging curators as well as visual artists… what draws you to curating? What are the challenges/rewards of being a curator? AAS: My first curatorial project was “KickstARTISTS: Symbiosis”, since then I’ve curated “Borders and Transitions” (in mentorship with Claire Bushby) and “The Corsini Collection: Revisited” (in mentorship with Dunja Rmandić), all of which have been hugely rewarding learning experiences. Before I took on these projects, I was really interested in the role of the curator, and how that role fostered growth for emerging artists in a gallery context. It was something I started thinking about when I visited my first Paper Mountain exhibition “Stay/Keep” (2014), curated by Melissa McGrath.
I find working with artists, pushing their conceptual development, as well as their capacity to do and be better (despite inevitably recurring moments of doubt) incredibly rewarding. For the most part, balancing unpaid administrative labour within my curatorial practice, and setting my boundaries so that I don’t burn out from overwork, have been the most challenging aspects of curating. “Magical Woman” is the first show I have co-curated beyond a mentorship context, which is both nerve-wracking and exciting.
SN: During the last year (2016) of my Bachelor of Fine Art at Curtin, I was the student coordinator of the graduate showcase exhibition, which included organising several fundraising exhibitions. This experience gave me a taste for arts management and curating. After that I completed an internship at PSAS in Fremantle under the wing of their director Tom Mùller, which saw me curate an exhibition of their studio artists.
When it comes to the opening night I usually have this moment of stillness where I really take it in: reflecting on where it started and seeing a show in its resolution. It’s a very wholesome feeling. I think that’s what drives me to keep curating. One of the most challenging things about curating for me personally is managing my time between curatorial duties and honours research.
7-23 September @ Paper Mountain ·
Presented by Drug Aware and Propel Youth Arts ·
Opening Night: Co-curators Nixon and Sumito invite everyone to come along to the official opening of Magical Woman, and to meet each of the talented artists amongst an energetic celebration of queer and women art in Perth. Opening night event will be held Friday 7 September 6-8pm in Paper Mountain’s main gallery.
Exhibition open to public: Saturday 8 – 23 September, 10am – 4pm Tuesday to Friday, and 11am – 4pm on weekends
Curator & Artist Talk: A Curator & Artist Talk event will be held in Paper Mountain’s main gallery Wednesday 12 September 6pm. Facilitated by Megan Hyde (Adjunct Teaching Fellow, Cultural Precinct, UWA) and Carly Lynch (Artist), this event will offer an in-depth view into the motivations of the artists and curators, and a reflection on the outcomes of the exhibition.
Magical Woman is a public art exhibition set to be displayed in the main gallery of Paper Mountain Artist-Run Initiative. It has been developed to provide a platform for six emerging women and non-binary artists to explore representations of romance in film and popular culture. Taking into consideration the intersections of racism, misogyny, queer exclusion and trans exclusion — artists have used the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope as a starting point to produce a new body of work.
Emerging artists, Amy McGivern, Astro Francis, Sam Huxtable, Shannon Marlborough, Natsumi de Dianous and Pip Lewi have worked closely with Sumito and Nixon. Producing work across a variety of mediums including: animation, comic art, video, installation, textile soft-sculpture and ceramics.
Review: Binja-Bilya-Warden by Bradley Kickett ·
Paper Mountain, 21 March ·
Review by Miranda Johnson ·
When we think of water, we tend to think of it as a singular entity. It moves and shifts, but ultimately, it’s all part of the same whole. Bradley Kickett’s abstract paintings at Paper Mountain show water as multifarious: a teeming, shining, sometimes muddy, sometimes pure, collection of bodies, none of which are really the same.
Kickett’s paintings follow the waters that move from inland, east of York, through Mount Stirling, and the Avon River by Northam, which turns into the Swan, ultimately feeding into the ocean. By tracking the water’s journey, he displays the differences between waters; the salt flats, the clear streams and the brackish mud.
Kickett has a very distinctive style of dot painting combined with paint pouring, so the colours mix and meld together to show the nuance and movement of the water. He states that he is more interested in the formal and technical qualities of painting than that of symbolism or storytelling, and the paintings’ detail and style is intricate and precise as one can be when pouring paint.
The paintings require a lot of time spent on each individual image to fully appreciate the differences, so at times it feels like perhaps a few less paintings might have been a more effective choice for a solo exhibition. However, taking the time to look at them individually is rewarding, as it’s surprising how different they all appear in the details. Bodies of water are like any other bodies, with bumps, swells, and colours that are unique and deeply personal, and Kickett portrays these bodies with precision and focus.
Are you sitting comfortably? If not, why not? These are some of the questions choreographer April Vardy asks in her new work Shall we get comfy?, premiering at Fringe World this month. In her Fringe Session Q&A, April takes her turn answering, rather than asking, the questions.
Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist? April Vardy: I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I knew I wanted to be an artist. Going through university you slowly begin to realise and understand what it means to be an artist in the world. Being exposed and inspired by so many people through my studies at the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), such as Emma Fishwick, Storm Helmore, Talitha Maslin and Isabella Stone… they all gave me insight and a desire to pursue life as an artist. Having that sense of artist in myself is still growing, and may never stop but the confidence and daringness, is expanding the more I get to be creative and make movement or contemporary dance works.
S: Career highlight so far? AV: Definitely performing at Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s largest city park. This was during my time in LINK Dance Company (WAAPA’s graduate dance company). There was only myself and three others in the company at the time, Tanya Brown, Cheyenne Davis and Antonio Rinaldi. It was an amazing experience to have the sun setting in your vision as you were dancing on stage. Also having the audience filled with absolute strangers who may have just stopped whilst walking their dogs was a beautiful thought.
S: What do you love most about what you do? AV: I love being able to see my ideas come to life… it is so satisfying. Having a vision and it working exactly how you thought, which is rare, or collaborating with dancers who are willing to give things a go to figure out what it is exactly you are looking for… I love being surrounded by such amazingly creative and talented people. Lastly, I love sharing what I have done, no matter how small, with friends, family and anyone who will come along.
S: Tell us about Shall we get comfy?, your 2018 Fringe show! AV:Shall we get comfy? is an exploration of questioning what it means to be comfortable. Do we see our homes as our comfort zones? How do we sit comfortably? Do the people surrounding us change our definition of comfortable? Must you be uncomfortable before you get comfy? How long does it take you to get comfortable with a person?
I feel as though comfort is something everyone can relate to whether it’s a place, a song or person, there is always something that can bring us comfort in life when we need it. I hope to answer all these questions and more with the help of my dancers.
S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl? AV: I have always enjoyed the time of year when there is so much happening in Perth for celebrating the arts, and I thought why not let myself have a moment to get creative and choreography a dance work. I was craving the chance to be creative and needed something to satisfy this feeling and I thought Fringe would fill the void. A lot of friends’ support and encouragement also pushed me to enter to something in Fringe, as well as talented dancer friends volunteering their time to help my ideas come to life.
S: What is your favourite playground equipment? AV: Definitely not the monkey bars, they were never my thing but probably just a simple swing. Nothing beats that feeling of being pushed higher and higher!
“You’ll get your content” is the motto scrawled across the promo image for the Raglan Fetish Show, a one-man show featuring Patrick Downlow, Esq. that features lipsync, transgression, spoken word poetry, audience participation and cursed images… all at once.
Is that a promise or a threat? Seesaw caught up with Patrick Downlow Esq. (AKA writer/performer Nick Morlet) to find out more about this unusual character and his show.
Seesaw: When did you first know that you wanted to be an artist? Patrick Downlow Esq.: It was maybe 2009 when I realised that, for the most part, lay people simply don’t have the time or wherewithal to furnish themselves with the kind of content they truly deserve. I was at my office viewing footage an associate had sent me of a migrating herd of critically endangered Saiga antelope when it occurred to me that I’m in a position to really help others, in ways they never knew they needed help to begin with.
S: Did you do formal training, learn on-the-job, or a bit of both? PD: I suppose it could be said I’ve been training all my life… from my childhood spent in the attic amongst the mouldering stacks of Nat Geos and Women’s Weeklies, to that first CRT monitor and the widening world of screen-based content it brought into our home.
I digress, or rather, regress. My on-the-job training started really at my first journalism job, reviewing local film festivals and gallery openings but I consider my true inception as an artist to be when I opened my first content dissemination firm in 2004. From there it was just a matter of realising my ultimate path, to become the person I am today.
S: Describe your artistic practice… PD: There are, in essence, two pathways open to people who are interested in soliciting my services: the first, one-on-one coaching wherein I not only expose people to content that I, through a rigorous period of research, find most appropriate but also! divulge to them my patented methods and means of content procurement. This is, of course, not comprehensive of my entire practice but is certainly more in-depth than your usual sub-Reddit listing or Instagram exposé.
The second is geared more towards group sessions and this is what I will be showcasing in my debut Fringe performance, the Raglan Fetish Show. Both multi-modal and interdisciplinary in focus, the show takes the guise of a conventionally presentational one-man act, but certain technical and, let’s say, attitudinal aspects of the production will impress upon the audience that what they see is meta-content at the bleeding edge, a “22nd-century TedX talk” so to speak.
S: What do you love most about what you do? PD: Just the very particular, very special way an under-occupied individual’s dull face lights up when they see an example of especially good content, for what must feel like the first time in their lives.
S: What made you decide to give Fringe World a whirl? PD: People are at Fringe for one thing, and one thing only: content. Whether or not they get the best is up to them but I feel I can help raise awareness, so that audiences can best decide where to put their valuable selves. In other words, I saw a niche, I filled a niche. Now, as they say, all there is to do is to sit back and wait for the kudos to roll in.
S: What is your favourite playground equipment? PD: The large web-like climbing apparatuses, found, for example, on the Freo esplanade.
Fringe World review: The Honeymoon Suite by Bernadette Lewis ·
Paper Mountain gallery, 1 February ·
Review by Nina Levy ·
Entering the Paper Mountain gallery space to see Bernadette Lewis’s The Honeymoon Suite, I come upon two be-sequinned dancers lying entwined, pretzel-like, around one another. Part-performance, part installation, two gallery walls feature luminous, blue-hued stills of the dancers, by photographer Emma Fishwick. The other two display an assortment of objects united by pinkness; flowers, hand-weights, slippers, ice cream cones, puzzle pieces.
The gallery, which is unusually long and narrow for a dance performance space, is mostly taken up by a rubber dance floor; the audience hovers at its edge, bathed in the subtle rosy glow that illuminates the show as a whole. There’s a gently 80s vibe permeating the room; the sequins, the neon sign, the background pop music, the musk sticks on offer.
The segue between before-the-show and the-show-has-definitely-started is subtle, appropriately, perhaps, for a work that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Musically the vibe hovers somewhere between lounge and the aforementioned 80s pop, with a handful of electronica thrown in for good measure.
Against this soundscape the movement teeters between sensual and silly, occasionally tipping into sinister. Now the dancers (Laura Boynes and Tanya Brown) recline like glamorous 50s film stars, their long hair flung back, their fingers holding invisible cigarettes aloft. Now they traverse the width of the performance space on their bottoms, hips shifting in a comical race to the end. Now they become entangled as they wrestle, more foes than friends. Boynes and Brown are gorgeous to watch as they morph, with careless ease, through the many moods of this work.
A fabulously kooky scene sees the dancers become a moving, ice-cream eating sculpture. Another involves climbing the walls, hanging from the window frames and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”.
Without giving too much away, the bouncing grand finale is highly satisfying, although as one of the audience members hauled (reluctantly) on stage, the closing moments felt anti-climactic. Aside from my aversion to audience participation, I would have liked to have seen this entertaining concept further developed.
Nonetheless, The Honeymoon Suite is trip into a retro-wonderland. It’s well worth 30 minutes of your time.
23 February @ Paper Mountain, William Street Northbridge ∙
Presented by: Alira Callaghan ∙
The closing night of the Gallery as Residency project by Alira Callaghan will be held at Paper Mountain on the 23rd February at 6pm following two weeks of open-to-the-public creative development having occurred within the gallery space.
Details of the project:
Gallery as Residency is a new exhibition by Alira Callaghan at Paper Mountain that investigates the gallery as a site for creativity. Callaghan will make and exhibit work during the exhibition, transforming the Paper Mountain exhibition space into a dynamic performance space and collaborating with visiting gallery patrons. Taking the concept of the artist residency as a starting point, this performance work unpacks how art is made while creating an experience between participants and the gallery space itself.