WHAT DO I SAY ABOUT THIS WORK NOW? is an online project for the COVID-19 shut-down period. As new spatial artwork can not easily be shown during this period, this project instead encourages discussion of artworks that already exist. Artists are invited to reflect on one of their own works, including how and why its location is part of the work, for posting on this blog. Responses will also be posted here, and can be self-posted on Facebook and elsewhere. Here is the second reflection:
RECALL was part of an exhibition whose title The Motor Show was borrowed from the Sydney Motor Show, a longstanding annual event on the Sydney calendar which had ceased to exist.
An exhibition coordinated by Emma Wise, Linden Braye and myself in October 2015, was held at Articulate project space, the site of a former panel beating workshop on Parramatta Road, Leichhardt. As a panel beating workshop it was conveniently located amidst the long strip of car sales yards spreading out along Parramatta Road, and with which Parramatta Road has been closely identified. For avid car hunters, it was the ‘go to’ for the weekend excursion.
Foreground: Mad Mick The Rolling Sculpture 2015. Photo: Peter Murphy
We invited other artists to participate on the theme and they responded with a variety of works- installations, videos and, in one instance, a baby blue vintage Cord (The Rolling Sculpture) whose owner, Mad Mick, towed it from his garage and parked it in the front section of the space, in true showroom style. See image above and the link here for other works in the show.
For my own work, titled RECALL, I drove my yellow Honda Jazz into the far end of the space onto a wooden platform, and into an area that was relatively contained, allowing a narrow space around it.
I decided to box in the space with large sheets of cardboard. My initial intention was to construct one big box out of large boxes for spare car parts, which the nearby car yard had plenty of. However, it soon became clear that what I needed was a large single box. I noted the collection of boxes all had the same texts printed on them: ‘THIS WAY UP’, ‘FRAGILE,’ and PACKAGING MUST BE RETURNED WITH ANY CLAIM. I hand stencilled these texts onto my one large box.
Sue Callanan RECALL 2015. photo: Peter Murphy
At the time of the show, I coincidentally, received a letter from Honda, requesting a recall of my car because of a model-wide issue with air bags. RECALL, then appeared on the box and became the title of the work. It was timely because it reinforced the idea that the car needed to be returned in the box- an improbable proposition.
The only evidence of the car inside the box was a slight protrusion of its rear end through a hole cut to size, in the manner that packaging sometimes allows a glimpse of the contents.
By bringing the car into the space, I’d anchored it in the context of the original panel beating workshop (it was also slightly dinged in the rear), recalling its history and the relationship of the workshop to the surrounding car industry.
The construction of the box to fit snugly into the space it occupied, including inserting itself between cut outs in the architecture had another function, which was to manipulate the architecture of the space and to somehow invert the notion of its scale, by making a box fit it. It became a box (the cardboard box containing the car) within a box (the building), with the cardboard box neatly fitting its contours, in the way you might expect a product to be packed securely with sections to prevent movement.
Whilst the installation recalled and responded to the past and current activity of the car industry along the strip, it also set the ground for raising my awareness of the social relations developed as part of business exchanges. The mechanic at the nearby workshop had clear recollections of doing business with the panel beating workshop which sprang up in the ‘70s.
The art space is part of the social economy and by taking a fully functioning object (ie the car) from one sphere and placing it in the other (art space) the intention was to create a link, with which we are more able to reflect on our relationships and our participation in the everyday world in which we exist.
The physicality of the space, and the particular space that the viewer occupies is integral to the work. The body is housed by the car, the viewer by the space, and the car by a box at one end of this vast space.
Much of my work is designed to set up a conversation with the surrounding architecture and to create portals for bringing viewers, with all their multiple relations with the world, into it.