Saturday, 4 March 2017

Narrative 4: Jelena Telecki’s 'Opening Night (painter, sitter, muse)'

Jelena Telecki, 'Opening night (painter, sitter, muse)', installation detail, 2016. Photo credit: Amanda Williams, courtesy 55 Sydenham Rd

An ensemble cast of characters pass through Jelena Telecki’s paintings. They appear in multiple works in disjointed and variable scenarios and relations. Some are individualised, such as General Tito, the ex-leader of the former Yugoslavia. Others are types such as sailors in head to toe whites, or nurses smoking cigarettes. There are stage performers, and costumed sexual fetishists, and men in tracksuits wearing incongruously shiny white shoes. Their faces are in many instances obscured. Their distinguishing features are blurred, or disfigured or erased. Identity is contingent. A person might merge with another party, with an object, with a background detail. Characters are differentiated by their uniforms, by the prosaic details of their garments: the white lace-up brogues, the thick sport socks, and nylon Adidas trackpants: by what marks their place, or excludes it, from an established order.

In the last couple of years Telecki’s exhibitions have been stalked by lifelike figures who alternately posture, recline, or endure puzzling physical restraints. The faces of the sculptures are not visible. They wear sheets over their heads, they are thrust head first into furniture, they sprawl as if they are sleeping something off, or ready themself as if they might leap out of position and snatch your phone. Pathetic and menacing: pushed around, and set to push back.

Multiple characters are in play in Telecki’s 2016 installation, Opening Night (painter, sitter, muse). A man stares out from a painting: his face competes with his lavish fur coat and stately bulk for the viewer’s attention. It is a 1915 self-portrait by Swedish portrait painter, Anders Zorn, which Telecki has reworked. Zorn’s image regards two life paintings of male nudes, pinned to the opposite wall. One of the faces has been draped with paint, the other is screened by curling corners of unstretched canvas. On the gallery floor below is a tidy pile of packing foam, cardboard, raw canvas, and pooled dry paint. Discarded crumpled oil paintings seem to float to the surface: this is by the looks, the stylised rubble of art history where reputations and artefacts are consigned, and on occasion retrieved. Here the white shoes of one of Telecki’s stage performers, hover over a face in another painting: Telecki’s finely painted rendition of Jan Van Dyck’s Portrait of a Sixty-year-old Man (1618).

Two of Telecki’s figures are present. At one end of the gallery is a man in a brown tracksuit, white shoes and white cotton gloves. He is wedged face down in an upright seat, trapped in perpetual collapse by a second chair jammed onto his back.  Foam packing is strapped to his arms and legs and over his face. He strains toward a scrunched piece of paper that has been placed, or has landed, just out of reach. Slouching on the facing wall is another model, his head and torso shrouded by a white cloth. A blank canvas is balanced on his head. He is also in a state of disarray: a shoelace hangs loose from his glossy white shoes and a grimy $5 note pokes from the pocket of his black Adidas pants. Both of his gloved middle fingers are raised in obscene gesture. It’s as if the figures have unexpectedly manifested as reluctant emissaries of the unconscious, forced to reveal the goings-on behind the scene. It makes for a startling, comic and uncanny tableau.

The title of Telecki’s exhibition is a reference to John Cassavetes’ 1977 film, Opening night, in which a theatre actor rejects the authority of the script over the role in which she has been cast. The play’s narrative is repeatedly thwarted as Myrtle abandons the set mid-scene, addresses the audience, cries out or lies motionless. Her refusal to accept a diminished status, in art or in life, leads to her haunting by a dead teenage fan, who Myrtle willingly invokes as a doppelganger of her younger self. As Myrtle unravels, an exorcism is arranged; hallucinating, she violently annihilates her rival self. Myrtle subsequently arrives late and blisteringly drunk to the opening night but manages at the last to improvise an alternative ending and, in refusing the weight of established narrative, she sidesteps her character’s fate as well as her own.

Telecki’s sculptural figures have the quality of apparitions, summoned to revert time, and reclaim what has been lost, abandoned or repressed. The white shoes Telecki has frequently painted and clad her sculptures in, are ghosted by earlier editions of themselves: the white naval shoes worn by Telecki’s father and his comrades, sailors in the navy of the former Republic of Yugoslavia. Telecki’s characters wear the shoes like fetishes: like haunted props for the restaging of memories. The sculptures’ heads are covered with sheets in an echo of the simulated ghosts of early spirit photography, and they are a similar means of testing the capacity of representation to claim veracity and authority.

Much of Telecki’s portraiture has been the result of her research into State Artists who are employed to repeatedly produce realistic portraits of the leader of a state. Telecki’s interest in the visual requirements of authority led her to assume the role herself. The performance soon went awry. In one example, Hijacked portrait, a classically rendered depiction of General Tito has been painted over and a woman’s face has been inserted in the place of his. In other portraits coloured circles buzz ominously over the leader’s face and inflated shapes press insistently at his temples. Rather than cementing authority, in Telecki’s work realism points to its own hallucinatory disintegration; and repetition of an image scrambles, misremembers and effaces its outlines. The leader’s portrait, once Telecki’s finished with it could be anyone or anything: a rubber-suited gimp, a cosmos of dead stars or a fat man in furs surveying his subjects.

Cassavetes’ Opening night suggests that narrative is oppressive, that defying its authority to determine an outcome is a matter of not just life and death, but, equally importantly, of life and art. Telecki’s work shares this resistance to authority and its directorial scripts. Like actors who’ve turned to take on the director, Telecki’s characters won’t stay in role. They refuse to play it straight, they are going to keep throwing their lines, adlibbing, interjecting. The blank canvas on the head of the cocky chancer in Opening night (painter, sitter, muse) is a challenge: try to fill it at your own risk. On the night of the opening an unknown viewer filched the $5 that dangled from the tracksuit pocket, goaded on perhaps by Telecki’s tableau of art history and power, narrative and defiance. Telecki replaced it, laughed.

Lynne Barwick, February 2017


Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Narrative 3: Un Leg

Stephen Ralph, 'My Sister's Doll' , 2016. Photo credit: Amanda Williams, courtesy 55 Sydenham Rd 

1.     A deep-sea diver is tasked with securing an oil rig to the North Sea floor. He inserts himself into one of the eight flooded legs of the platform and descends 120 feet. The man just fits into the metal column, he’s only able to flinch a centimetre or so either way before striking a wall. There is a plug at the end of the leg. The diver’s job is to locate the iron chain attached to the plug and shackle it to the crane poised above. As the man feels for the chain in the darkness it topples from its perch. It rapidly unfurls onto his leg, pinning him tight. He is unable to move. His breathing escalates dangerously. He has no way to communicate with his crew. A leg trapped inside a leg, this is the first of our eight limbs.

2.     A phantom leg is a missing leg, gone, but not erased. It haunts the body it formerly co-existed with. The body in turn hallucinates its presence. There is no scientific test to verify the existence of a phantom. The evidence takes the form of a case study narrative: a first-person account delivered by the sole witness. An equally subjective phenomenon is the strange leg or negative phantom: a leg that is present yet absent. Abandoned and disowned by its body, left off the neural map, the estranged leg has no owner, no general to issue it orders. A body is able to proceed without a leg, and a leg it seems is also able to continue on, however uneasily, minus a body.

3.     It’s a fallacy that the Victorians covered up their piano legs for fear of exercising the sexual potency of objects, but it’s a revealing myth nevertheless. Legs are associated with exposure and shame, with con men and fake legs used to milk hearts and wallets, with clandestine compartments for disguising truths. Consider Rolf Harris and his smash hit Jake the peg: kitsch turned creepy: an exhibitionist’s toe-tapper, a pedophile’s ditty. And Oedipus who slew his father and slept with his mother having correctly answered the Sphinx’s riddle: What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon and three in the evening? (A: man)

4.     Historically misfortune has befallen the genders in different ways. Male legs have been more prone to disarticulation. WW1 and WW2 were periods of mass fragmentation of male limbs while women’s legs, in a telling echo, were photographed, pinned up and painted onto weapons of mass destruction. Men, if so inclined, can be ‘leg men’, foot fetishists, stocking afficionados or amputee enthusiasts. Castration and fetishism: the fear of dismemberment, and the devotion to objects, or parts, that represent a substitute for any such loss. Fevered and primarily masculine narratives should you believe in that sort of thing.

5.     A living leg is the stuff of narrative. It regulates movement from one situation to another. It supports, propels, conveys; it hops, rests, kicks or shakes itself free. Even a motionless leg is aligned with a verb as it rests or waits. Single legs are often put to work in a synedoche, as in pulling a leg, legging it, getting a leg up, or a leg in, or a leg over: a leg standing in for an intention, an agent standing in for a drama.

6.     A leg can morph into a thing: an object, a relic, a specimen. Once separated from its body, a part becomes abject: repudiated, uncanny, a source of horror. A replicated body part, such as a leg, retains some of this frisson but evades the full force of the horror, avoiding its clutches, suggests Julia Kristeva’s Powers of horror, by cloaking itself in the same garb. A leg in the process of becoming a thing is perhaps then engaged in a disrobing: a stripping away of all coverings including those of office.

7.     Prostheses and phantoms form a symbiotic pair. Successful use of a prosthetic leg can be determined by the intensity of its corresponding phantom. The pain and the discomfort of the missing limb are nerve signals that can be harnessed to control its replacement. The prosthesis is then able to lessen the ache of the phantom by rewiring its loss. In a sympathetic doubling each takes a turn in the other’s place: the phantom becomes the prosthesis, and the prosthesis becomes the phantom.

8.     Legs are sociable structures, dependent on their fellows as well as the community bonds between feet, ankles and knees. Multiple legs are also able to operate in unison: witness an eight-legged spider, or an octopus, or a phalanx of scuba divers’ legs artfully kicking down to the ocean’s depths to extract its fuel, playing out the precarious balance between subject and thing, between part and whole, between life and its imminent severing.

Lynne Barwick, September 2016 (with thanks to Nick Strike)

Hany Armanious, Tully Arnot, Mitch Cairns, Lucas Ihlein, Stephen Ralph, Nick Strike & what. 55 Sydenham Rd, Sydenham, 9-25 September, 2016. Curated by Nick Strike.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Narrative 2: Iakovos Amperidis’ 'Act Normal'

Photo: Iakovos Amperidis

Self-replicating collapse

Iakovos Amperidis was scheduled to show at 55 Sydenham Rd in October. Several incidents occurred in the immediate lead-up. Amperidis deinstalled a large rectangle of the gallery’s lighting track and collapsed the wall that divided the space into two rooms. A photo from the artist appeared on social media of the result, a disorientating perspective where the white wall lay intact on the grey floor and the lighting track, switched on, illuminated the wall it rested against. The separation of wall, floor and ceiling, all momentarily called into question.

A few days later, Amperidis published a video of a near-completion 20-speaker sound sculpture in the gallery space. Described by Amperidis as a spambot/alien head, it emitted audio resembling a scramble of metal and voices, razors and static. News shortly followed from the gallery of the complete disappearance of 55’s website archive. The cause was unknown. Distorted image files from previous 55 exhibitions were posted online. Amperidis’ upcoming exhibition opening was postponed. Subscribers to 55’s mail-out then received an email of corrupted code from the website, as if an infecting virus had disseminated itself. On closer examination it was evident that between the links to scrambled files of 55’s exhibition history, were extracts from Wikipedia on a number of feedback systems: strange loops, self-replicating programs and cascading failures. Embedded in the email were two gifs: the first was the photograph of the toppled gallery wall; and the other an interior of 55 Sydenham Rd in a former incarnation as a factory office. Both images start erasing at the same time they appear. This was the exhibition. It happened; it didn’t happen.

A room inside a room

(KNULP: Act Normal) It’s like a partition wall in KNULP has bypassed its formal restraints and tidily collapsed, folding over itself. The gyprock sheeting and supporting framing constitute a second interior that the viewer needs to crouch to enter. Inside is a sharply-angled, claustrophobic room.

Two Sony Trinitron monitors, relics from the early days of video art, are installed on the ceiling in the furthest, cramped corner. The hand-sized screens face a slanting, carpeted wall from which a plastic stool juts out at the viewer. The footage on the screens is upside down. It is apparent that, in a perceptual up-ending, the room has been spun. The floor on which the audience stands is the ceiling. Or maybe a wall. It is an extensive and detailed construction with a rough finish: the paint doesn’t make it to the edges of the sheeting, the inner panels don’t all meet up.

On the dual monitors is a two-channel montage of found film, intermittently punctuated by blank screens and a mix of synched and unsynched audio. A brief summary of the narrative elements: a man beats a wall with a brick; a bird descends in a death spiral; a tracking shot closes in on a door and a surveillance screen; a faceless pulp monster bumbles around. Then, an audio sequence of orgasmic moans, a woman’s arse gesticulates onscreen, and an unseen auctioneer solicits bids for a property. Cut to rotating black and white spirals, and the edit, set to a cacophonous beat pulse, starts over.

Amperidis’ video is pulled from YouTube: from art-house film; social media performance art; Osama Tezuka’s sci-fi series Space Giants; infotainment news; advertising for the Sydney Contemporary art fair; a toddler’s tantrum, ‘I don’t want to go!’; George Digweed, commercial pigeon shooter in action; and the revolving optical discs of Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema. The audio also includes glossolaliac newsreaders, an apocalyptic religious film soundtrack, a cast of midlife crisis and mental health sufferers detailing their symptoms, and a compilation of amateur-porn cumshots. Crude, funny, loud, camp. If there is a common link it is to the breaching borders of the everyday abject body: inanely striving, exceeding and abandoning itself. The cascading, self-replicating, failures and programs of daily life. Just acting normal.

A screen inside a screen

Several segments of video are from Luis Buñuel’s The Exterminating Angel. The film’s plot: a group of wealthy dinner guests find themselves inexplicably unable to leave the room in which they have congregated.  Food and water run dry and the guests turn on each other in the struggle to cross the threshold and escape their predicament. It is a narrative with multiple double ups: the guests arrive twice, the host duplicates his welcome toast, identical dialogue is spoken by different characters. It’s only by retracting their steps and repeating their speech that the characters are freed from their ensnarement. As the film ends it becomes clear that it has only been a short reprieve – the guests are ensconced in a new location but once again appear unable to exit. It is a strange loop: a circular paradox that returns a scenario to the same point it began.  The extracts Amperidis uses in Act Normal are all instances of the disturbed boundaries that reoccur throughout the film: the dinner guests recline together in sleep and death; an interior wall is forcefully penetrated to draw water from the plumbing; a bear roams freely in the newly-created wilderness of the house outside the room.

Another core excerpt is the opening scene of Michael Snow’s *Corpus Callosum. A strange loop is at work here as well. This one is self-reflexive. A small screen is mounted next to a door at the end of a hallway. On view is security vision of the same scene. Snow’s camera slowly pans down the hallway and focuses in on the screen to arrive back exactly where it started. It’s a mise en abyme: every screen contains a smaller version of itself. Amperidis broadcasts this clip on both his monitors but interrupts the existing recursion by inserting other footage into Snow’s video screens and starting up his own. On one monitor, underwear-clad, Spanish performance artist, Amalia Ulman, (famous for a strange loop Instagram account in which she faked a quest for fame), mimes the cleaning of a floor on her hands and knees. On the other monitor the Japanese-pulp creature gambols through a series of outdoor locations: liberated from the need to be monstrous by the absence of spectators. Both Ulman and the beast are caught up in mirrored loops where self-referentiality is the cause as well as the result of surveillance. It’s a different type of demarcated space than Buñuel’s bourgeois drawing room, but it’s equally concerned with the feedback mechanisms of confinement and release.

By entering Amperidis’ gallery inside a gallery, and watching his video of screens within screens, we viewers have been entangled in a strange loop of the artist’s design. With each iteration of the loop, onscreen and off, there is a multiplication and a division of perspective. The rooms expand into more rooms, the screens into more screens, then retract back, spiralling in and out like Duchamp’s comically hypnotic rotoreliefs.

55: twinned narratives

55 Sydenham Rd recently promoted an upcoming event on Facebook. Audience Undevelopment was scheduled to take place in March, Sydney’s annual ‘Art Month’. Exactly nothing at all was planned, and that is what 55’s audience was invited to participate in. Audience Undevelopment regretted the accelerating proliferation of art events (and the accompanying instructions of how and when to consume culture), the social media boosterism, the assimilation of funding imperatives, the sham collectivity and the illusory promises of sustenance, and art careers, for all.

Amperidis is the founder and director of 55 Sydenham Rd, a resolutely, non-commercial, artist-run gallery with an outspoken character voice, capable of usurping and inhabiting multiple identities, including Amperidis’ own. National and international politicians, art celebrities and collectors, local real estate agents and motivational speakers, have been remixed, dubbed, misquoted or raised from the dead to critique the machinations of contemporary art, undercut its brokers, and recommend 55 on its social media feed.

Initially 55 Sydenham Rd attempted to operate anonymously. Artists agreed to show work without their names attached and Amperidis, as director, intended to remain unidentified. This was soon abandoned when it became obvious that this was not drawing attention to the art but away from it, into the well-worn game of gatekeeping as a means of accruing publicity and privilege. The paradoxes of contemporary art have long appeared inescapable: the futile battles by artists to retain autonomy and agency in the relentless cycle of co-option and subjugation: the likely impossibility of even criticising the financial and institutional systems we are enmeshed in without reinforcing them. 55 responds by reversing the power relations: commandeering dominant voices to its own end, stuffing hierarchical expectations and complicities alike into a paradoxical room of its own making.

55 Sydenham Rd was launched with a narrative. Spy services, former MPs, psychokinetic mediums and spectral hosts were all assigned a role in a founding myth invoking cold war politics, residual hauntings and architectural retention. In this account the previous occupants and their exertions remain imbued in the building. The infrastructure of 55 Sydenham Rd is porous and unstable: its voice trespasses other voices, its rooms harbour other rooms. 55 wields paradox, sometimes in attack, mostly in defence.

Subtitled architecture, parallel plots

Amperidis has a seeming preoccupation with interior architecture, with walls as material and as conceptual substrate. This has previously led him to build an accurate replica of the hallway and secret entrance in Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby; to fence off a gallery space with a wall and a locked door; to make Rorschach blots from white wall-paint samples cadged from Sydney galleries; to axe a hole into a gallery wall and disappear inside. Architecture deals in the division of space, and the shifting borders of subjectivity: inside, outside, here, there, mine, not mine, segregation, emancipation, monitored, unmonitored. Amperidis’ work is often engaged with negating, modifying and reconstructing these parameters. It’s architecture as physical and psychological analogy, as code, stage and horizon.

Amperidis similarly treats found narratives as malleable structures, and as propositions warranting a response. Film is a frequent source. He has referenced Buñuel’s film in previous works, twice discarding the image and the audio to make use of the subtitles alone. In a 2013 work at ICAN gallery, (the same space now occupied by KNULP), lines from the film were programmed and sent as texts between two iPhones: ‘Exterminating’ and ‘Angel’. A later video work, Subtitle/soundtrack (study), also extracted dialogue from The Exterminating Angel, and intercut it with lines from Samuel Beckett’s novel, How it is, and a fleeting strip of light and music from Cassavetes’ Love Streams. The white text was projected directly onto a white wall at 55. It was a periodic, slow-paced projection, appearing and erasing. The gallery walls played an integral part in the work’s visibility and meaning, taking the place of the disconnected frameworks: becoming the interior of Buñuel’s room; the mud through which Beckett’s antihero crawls; and Cassavetes’ briefly blinded lens, radiant in a zone of domestic and psychological entrapment. It is another recursive loop of course. The audience and the gallery are symbolically enclosed inside the source texts. Reading the subtitles is an act of internalising the characters’ thoughts; the gallery walls are the mirrors inside the mirror, the frames within the frame.

The key driver to the strange loop which connects 55 Sydenham Rd, the exhibition that did or didn’t happen, and Act Normal, is Amperidis’ insistence on paradox: at once a working method, a principle of engagement and an acid test. Amperidis repeatedly encloses himself, and his audience, in the rooms and galleries of contemporary art to play out his strange and self-referential loops. If we follow Bunuel’s logic, it’s an attempt to retrace his steps and utterances. To rewind the narrative, jam the circuit, and make his way out.

Lynne Barwick, May 2016 
55 Sydenham Rd, Sydenham, Sydney, October 2015 & KNULP, Camperdown, Sydney, April 2016                                                       

Narrative 1: Nick Strike’s Time on Ice

Nick Strike, 'Time on Ice' installation shot, 2016. Photo credit: Amanda Williams, courtesy 55 Sydenham Rd
Mise en scène

Throughout his installations and his imagery, Nick Strike returns again and again to the same settings: a forest, or an ice lake, or a cell. A scene waiting for a narrative, for history to meet it. The forest obscures and reveals. The ice screens off the depths. The cell is inescapable, a shape-shifter: it is the prison, the cinema, the gallery, the studio, the film strip, the frame, the rink and the mind.


Strike’s last solo show at 55 Sydenham Rd, October, was punctuated by images of divers plunging into water. In Time on Ice, the divers have been replaced with ice-skaters who endlessly circle the impenetrable surface of their frozen ground.

Two film loops screen side by side in a silent, stereographic projection on the main gallery wall. One half of the projection field is black and white footage from the 1930s. The other is colour film from the 1970s. At the centre of each frame is an ice-skater in motion. The figures spin, twist and lunge across the ice, but in the place of identifying features is the transfixing flicker of seared acetate. Each individual film cell has been precisely blistered by the sun, focused and directed through Strike’s burning lens.

On a return wall opposite the dual image, another section of the 1970s film is projected through a vintage 16mm projector. Extending from the burn field is a single leg footed by a bladed skate. The limb pivots with forceful precision on the ice, like a drill intended to penetrate the surface, or a stick briskly rotated for the purpose of starting a friction fire. The noise of the film projector takes the place of a soundtrack; the whir of metal and acetate approximating the sound of a metal blade grazing the ice.

The fourth projection, a short loop on a monitor, is visible when leaving the gallery by the stairs. In a close-up shot, hands pull laces tight through the eyelets of an ice skate. Then, an abrupt edit: a man’s face fills the screen. His eyes are missing. His eye sockets scorched by twin burns.

Nick Strike is an auteur. Like Hitchcock’s interchangeable blondes, Strike’s characters are ciphers. They don’t require internal lives: they are symbols, and stand-ins and doubles, for the real action taking place somewhere behind the screen and below the surface.

Narrative rupture

Strike’s work is often concerned with the mechanisms of vision: the anatomical, technological and perceptual means by which we see and make sense of what we see. His work is equally preoccupied with impediments to vision: to physical blockages, mechanical failures and misreadings.

In a statement that accompanies the exhibition, Strike writes that his labour-intensive burning of film is intended to recall the rare occasions a celluloid film would ignite, mid-screening, in a cinema projector. As the film perished under the heat of the lamp, the image on screen froze; and the audience were shaken collectively awake from their viewing trance. The rupture in the narrative awakened the audience to their own lives, just as the moving stream of images had suspended their awareness.

When Strike’s own film reel broke in the projector during the exhibition, he sliced out the damaged section of film and lodged the strip, in storyboard rows, between two pieces of perspex. It was a restating of the workings of cinematic illusion, the multiple still-lifes that create the appearance of movement and of narrative.

With his practice of applying a burn to every cell of a film, Strike ruptures the existing narrative while overlaying one of his own making. He reinforces the illusion of cinema while taking it apart; waking his audience while lulling them into a trance. He makes, in effect, a stereograph of sleep and wakefulness: a cognitive prompt to consider narratives and images from both states.

Narrative props/motifs

There is more material to view: a sheet of perspex covers the stair landing; the gallery window is cracked; there is a film still of a woman, without a face, touching the screen her son is imprisoned behind; a hole in the gallery floor is reflected back on itself; a photograph of a forest is obscured by perspex strips. Strike sets in play the narrative of the space; his installation a perpetual signifying machine, amassing links and associations between matter and concepts.

—iceperspexglassskatesbladesknivesrazorseyeletseyesstereogrammagnifying glasssunprojectorfocal pointlens burnfriction firefrostbiteice hole—cracked screen

Strike draws from a roll call of imagery related to the eye, to seeing, and to technologies of vision: Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou, Bataille’s Story of the Eye, Walter Benjamin’s concepts of the optical unconscious and the dialectical image, Hieronymous Bosch’s painting Temptation of St Anthony (with its camera obscura and ice-skating bird) and Roland Barthes’s essays ‘The Metaphor of the Eye’ and ‘The Third Meaning’. Strike has often mentioned these references when talking about his work; it’s only as I type them that I notice that all the surnames start with B, and that B looks like a pair of glasses, or a stereoscope, on its side. It’s the kind of coincidence that Nick Strike tracks and incites in his work. The analogous narratives of the unconscious: revelatory, erroneous, punning and erotic; the absurd, the wishful, and the horrific. All as indispensable as the next.

Point of view

Like a cinema foyer walled with film stills, the front gallery at 55, is hung with Strike’s collages. Six are actual stereograms. Two near-identical images mounted in the same frame are an invitation for the viewer to cross their eyes, adjust their focus and by the diligent, and somewhat painful, application of each eye, create one single, composite three-dimensional image.

As with the ice-skating films, the collages are made up of photographic imagery from the 1930s and the 1970s. Strike is nodding at the proposition that the precarious economic and cultural terrain of both decades is matched by the fragility of our own. By overlaying the image banks of the two decades in a stereographic process and method, Strike speculates that something of our present time will be revealed.

Scenarios float in and out of view. Place and time are indeterminate. There is war and there are dreamscapes. There are mass gatherings, uniforms, and wayward bodies: outsized, morphing, fragmenting. There are skewed monuments and unstable landscapes. There is the forest, the ice lake, the cell. And a screw, a drill, an orifice, a carcass, an eye, twin pools of water, a pair skating couple, an amputated leg. Obstacles in search of a narrative. Evidence in search of a crime.

Lynne Barwick, March 2016

55 Sydenham Rd, Sydenham, Sydney, March 2016

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Affiliated Text

Notes to a Future Feminist Archive, Affiliated Text exhibition # 1, installation shot. Photo credit: Felicity Jenkins

Affiliated Text is a year-long gallery project exploring visual representations of language. Incorporating intertextual, semiotic, linguistic and graphic approaches, monthly exhibitions will examine the cultural and political sphere of language.

Curated by artists Lynne Barwick and Bronia Iwanczak, works on show will include visual art, typography, artist books, concrete poetry and printed matter. The program of exhibitions and associated events commences in March 2015 at 33 Roslyn St, Kings Cross.

Notes to a Future Feminist Archive, Affiliated Text exhibition # 1, installation shot. Photo credit: Felicity Jenkins

Many thanks to Gavin Harris at Cross Art + Books for generously hosting the project.