CURTAIN CALL: 1000 2000s SOAP
7 – 17 December 2016
Curated by SOAP
Opening Night | Thursday 8 December, 6–8pm
Aly Aitken, David Akenson, Santina Amato, Rachel Ang, Jessie Angwin, Beth Arnold, Nick Ashby, Eleanor Avery, James Avery, Jill Barker, Selina Braine, Merric Brettle, Kiera Brew Kurec, Michele Burder, Ben Byrne, Kate Cotching, Bridget Currie, Anna Daly, Jared Davis, Julia Davis, Clare Humphries, Zoe De Luca, Rehgan De Mather, Kim Demuth, Hazel Dooney, Daniel Dorall, Craig Easton, Kel Glaister, Katya Grokhovsky, Michelle Hamer, Jim Hart, PJ Hickman, Stephanie Hicks, Joyce Huang, Amanda Johnson, Lisa Jones, Dena Kahan, Helen Kelly, Anusha Kenny, Susan Lincoln, Michael Lindeman, Natalya Maller, Amy Marjoram, Jessica McElhinney, Pamela See, Julie-Anne Milinski, David Mutch, Kirsten Perry, Debra Porch, Clare Rae, Steven Rendall, Mandy Ridley, Dunja Rmandic, Susan Robb, Giles Ryder, Elizabeth Shaw, Tai Snaith, Lisa Stewart, Andrew Tetzlaff, Jade Venus, Paul White, Jordan Wood + Sary Zananiri.
CURTAIN CALL: 1000 2000s SOAP brings together works by artists who have previously exhibited at BLINDSIDE.
1000 2000s SOAP uses the curatorial position to examine the role of the artist in relation to the gallery and the channels of exchange between artist and institution.
Using a ‘call and response’ method of curation, SOAP contacted all artists who exhibited at BLINDSIDE in the years 2004-2009, inviting them to participate in CURTAIN CALL. Being the first 5 years of operation for BLINDSIDE this period was selected by SOAP out of a curiosity to consider the shifts brought about with the new millennium, in relation to the politics of artistic production and participation.
The ‘call and response’ method addresses the challenges of working artists in Australia: the networks formed inside and outside the internet, the scarcity of cheap gallery space and the sparse public and private funds to remunerate artists.
SOAP’s curatorial premise brings this exhibition as a form of a democratic collective action. Artists’ diverse but complementary responses range from concepts commenting on art and language, economy of space and time, to visibility, identity politics, individualism and isolation in the digital age.
THE MATERIAL BODY IN SPACE
Curtain Call invites artists who have exhibited at BLINDSIDE to debut new work or revisit previous work in a new context. Curated by Kali Michailidis, a curatorial student at the University of Melbourne, this year’s edition of Curtain Call brings together works concerned with the body, materiality and spatial constraints. The invited artists are Todd Anderson-Kunert, Skye Kelly, Adele Macer, Caroline Phillips, Leela Schauble and Naomi Troski.
Todd Anderson-Kunert's work challenges the conventional gallery experience. The white cube can be perceived as a place of solitude, like a temple. Coupling sound with photography, Anderson-Kunert subverts this notion by making the gallery space dynamic, interdisciplinary and communal. In Something Nice a photograph is positioned in the shadow of a speaker. The image is simple – a woman spraying perfume on her neck in a position of intimacy, vulnerability and sensuality. The erotic, even primal aspects in the work are counteracted by the title itself, which suggests the perfuming is perhaps an innocuous indulgence. The intimacy of the photograph contrasts with the low, rumbling frequency of the sound. The two elements in direct dialogue, bind sound with body, so the work is experienced beyond the visual sense: the sound projecting the body throughout the space.
Skye Kelly manipulates toffee into strange and seductive forms. When cooked to 300°C, toffee becomes a Newtonian fluid, which is a solid that behaves like a liquid. Kelly uses toffee for its domestic and familiar qualities as well as its scientific properties. Extruded Sphere is in a constant state of transition, as the toffee filters from the net to the floor. Its movement is almost imperceptible, but becomes dramatically apparent over time. The work tests the limits of the material itself, as well as the viewer’s observation and patience. Many of us first encounter the sweet stickiness of toffee as children, and Kelly invites us to recall such childhood memories, but reconstructs them as something strange and unfamiliar. Extruded Sphere has a kind of disembowelled, intestinal quality. As the toffee oozes through the suspended net onto the floor, it is reminiscent of a hanging, flayed open body. In spite of its somewhat gruesome connotations, it is also seductive and inviting – touchable and lickable – an open invitation to dip your finger in.
Adele Macer’s Untitled (Black Floor Work) is a revised installation of a work previously exhibited in 2011. An inky black soft satin sculpture commands attention in the centre of the space and immediately evokes curiosity and mystery. The opened-out black rectangle marks territory and delineates the geometry of the room and becomes a black hole. Its sheen is seductive and luxurious, yet impervious. Its padding absorbs the light. If you were fall onto it, you might not escape. A series of hard-edged small, black, triangular sculptures seem to be levitating nearby, their lightness adding to the soft sculpture’s obscurity. The repetition of triangular elements seems to signal something, but just what that might be remains open. The triangular sculptures recall the sharp, protruding lines of a masculine Modernism, and play against the silky surface of the soft sculpture, which has its own feminine space in art history.
Caroline Phillips uses recycled cotton, elastic, leather and plastic to create soft sculptures. Dysfunction is an installation of clusters of totemic sculptures, made from miscellaneous recycled industrial pieces stuffed into cotton tubing and unused hospital compression socks. The materials make reference to skin, flesh and muscle and evoke a sense of injury. Their recycled and industrial nature suggests a mechanical and uniform approach to relationships that is no longer functional. They hang like limp ragdoll limbs, lifeless but not deflated. Phillips’s minimalist and understated aesthetic recalls the feminist soft sculpture tradition of the 1960s. Dysfunction asks what is the way forward for these relationships in a society that has moved past the overt feminist activism of the 1960s and 1970s.
Leela Schauble has revisited a recent photographic series, Float, 2013, for Curtain Call. The photographs depict imprints of ephemeral figures that remind the viewer of bodily stains and liquids, and are encased in transparent plastic. It is unclear as to whether the forms are male or female, alive or dead or even human at all. The form is framed within the circular crop, which is in turn confined within the square of the photograph. While the bodies appear to be floating, they also seem captive – the plastic suffocating and confining the figures. While we know plastic is unnatural and toxic, it is a man-made material produced on mass. Schauble challenges the viewer’s attitude to this seemingly benign material and emphasises the finiteness of resources and the mortality of the body. She presents a grim image of what may happen to humankind once our materials have been exhausted. The body in these photographs is projected as something apocalyptic, post-human; an after-life of sorts. The plastic, having digested and preserved the body, holds it prisoner.
Naomi Troski’s work extends her current concern with immersive environments in a new direction. Troski uses light and colour in her work to disorient and challenge our perceptual habits. A previous installation Gyre, 2012, was made from rope and guttering suspended from the ceiling. Scatter is a two metre-square fibreglass construction that sits on the floor. Troski’s work alters the viewer’s experience of the surrounding environment. Without illusion or trickery, Scatter offers a unique way for viewers to test their visual perception. It challenges the spatial and temporal notions of an individual body being present and fixed in a single location. The fibreglass poles are like the lines of a drawing in space, depending on the angle and fall of the light, the presence of the work is altered, and at times, appears invisible.
The works in Curtain Call variously represent, reference and conjure the body on an emotional, conceptual and physical level. Each artist, working with a minimal palette relies on the strength and unique properties of their chosen materials to convey meaning. Many of the works challenge the viewer’s conventional understanding and experience. They ask questions about art in relation to the body and the body as a locus for art.
The artworks in Curtain Call do not attempt to answer these questions. Rather, they draw attention to them and push the viewer into new experiences to provide their own answers. Phillips and Macer work with the material body in relation to fabric and a blurring crossover of male and female spaces. Kelly and Troski incorporate the body of the viewer to heighten the uncertain and precarious nature of its relationship to the world. Schauble and Anderson-Kunert use photographic images of the body in sculptural constructions to refer to their subject’s vulnerability and suspension in space. For Macer and Schauble, Curtain Call has provided an opportunity to revisit and reconfigure previous bodies of work. For the others, it has been a chance to extend and experiment with new installations, parameters and facets of their practice.
- Kali Michailidis, 2013.
SOAP (State of Art Platform) is a collective of artists and writers founded in early 2015, with members contributing from Melbourne and internationally. In the last two years SOAP have been working to create a platform for discussion between artists, researchers, experts and writers in the public domain. SOAP aims to challenge the position of the artwork, questioning existing art platforms and the systems in place which surround the gallery environment. SOAP brings a fluid set of propositions with each assertion to engage social and political current affairs and the current state of art, broadening the possibilities for the intersection of image and language across disciplines.