3.5.14

ISOBEL JOHNSTON on Fair Isle 4


 The Fourth Dimension: Exhibition C/D the 4th Phase

This phase of Fair Isle both brings in work of artists Lisa Andrew, Criena Court, Virginia Hilyard, Jillian Campbell and James Nguyen, Margaret Roberts, and Ioulia Terizis to the project and carries across the work of Justin Henderson, Andrew Simmons, Clara Chow, Virginia Versa, Sardar Sinjawi and John Von Sturmer.

The concept of journeys presents itself as one strand within Fair Isle and in this iteration we are presented with all sorts of forms of transport: from luxury liners to the intersections of Sydney’s suburban transport system, the rear view mirrors that follow you around the room, the ominously glowing jellies growing mold in the corner, the black shapes that punctuate your transit from one work to another, to works that allude to a journey of great fiction, kaleidoscopic doors of perception and ghosts that shadow us through deep space.

Lisa Andrew’s work juxtaposes nature and culture—bricks and mortar below pins that point to map locations with images of the growth rings of trees. Her umbrella plays off the ‘real’ and its simulacra in the transformation and substitution of material from the natural world to the manmade, and seems to float up away from us. All the while Justin Henderson’s ocean liner offers the promise of ‘minimalist luxury’ with all the extras.

Ioulia Terrizis’s quietly discrete work ‘Neutrino’ marks space in a different way, both inscribing and photographing space. Here, we see the real and a representation of it as perceived space, with three dots marking points of reference that coexist in 2 and 3 dimensions. In this elegant work, the journey is into subatomic space with the neutrino, the ghost and boundary rider, from another dimension of time and space taking us on to another place altogether.

Whereas Sanjay Sinjawi reminds us, we are all on of life’s journey. He highlights the transitory nature of life using remnants/shreds of his own clothing along with photographs taken in different locations of him dressed in their complete form from his past. There is, again, a notion of the autobiographical in Clara Chow’s video work that contains her lips and human hair, inviting us to consider identity (politics) here evoking something of the personal as political or identity politics.

Virginia Hilyard’s ‘Voyage au centre de le terre’ presents us with a work recalling Jules Verne’s novel by the same name. Hilyard has scratched away the mirrored surface of the glass of this wardrobe door to reveal the shape of the glacier Snaefellsjokull as it was in 1890, almost double the size it is today. It reflects the shattered vanity in our belief that we control nature, in a work where science fiction and global warming meet in an oval looking glass. That same looking glass shape is still apparent in the contemporary rear view mirrors of Victoria Versa’s work that directs us to glimpse what is passing.

 Margaret Roberts’s ‘Blp’ indeed ‘articulates’ the space, providing a grammatical nuance in the spirit of and with reference to ‘punctuation marks’, evoking work of Richard Artschwager. Roberts’s works are scaled and positioned in relation to other works her Blps ‘Alice in Wonderland-like’ grow and shrink in accordance to their companion pieces. A large, outline version surrounds Andrew Simmons’ 607X (Riley to Barclay) and suggested, to this viewer as least, a complete racetrack. Simmons’ sections of road are made of layers of wonky felt and bitumen paint and engage us with the idea of the substructure of roads, with particular reference to those continually remodeled to adapt to the expanding population of suburban Sydney.

Peering into Criena Court’s work ‘Proposal #9’ we lose all our usual co-ordinates for gauging space. It presents us a glimpse of the coloured wonder of the world and the vastness of space where a perception of scale folds in on itself and true to its description; the work challenges our perception of both image making and reality. Kaleidoscopic it holds us in its mesmerizing space.

Glowing greenly in the corner is Jillian Campbell and James Nguyen’s work ‘Warning: Fair Use’ presented a collection of toxic mold agar jellies. This is a time-based journey, as it bloomed, grew and developed over the period of exhibition. Its growth gives a sense of accretion to John Von Strummer’s work Troubadour; its white, polystyrene surface seemed to emerge from, rather than adhere to, the wall. A tiny Blp by Roberts dialogues with another of his works ‘Found domino’—scaled to size, it sits alongside it on the floor.

If the role of an ARI can be described, but not limited to, a site for experimentation, a laboratory a launch pad and a forum, then all of these concepts apply equally to Fair Isle. As a framework, Fair Isle has allowed artists great scope through the presentation of a series of interconnected exhibitions where trace, substitution and dialogue intersect to both enable but also to frame the nature of the work that each artist brings to this event. The time-based aspect of the project as a whole will ultimately be more clearly apprehended in its documented format, as are many durational works and all great journeys.

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