29 March – 15 April 2017
Curated by Leslie Eastman, Kiron Robinson + David Thomas
Opening Night | Thursday 30 March, 6–8pm
Artists In Conversation & Curator Floor Talk | Wednesday 5 April, 6-7.30pm
Trent Crawford, Lucy Foster, Edith Gilfedder, Silvi Kadillari, Darcy Smith + Julia Trybala
In its 13th year, BLINDSIDE’s DEBUT brings together a dynamic selection of Melbourne’s brightest Fine Arts graduates from Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), Monash University (MADA) and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).
Images | Image Captions: Edith Zee Gilfedder, 2016. Grid Generation No 2. Pigmented ink on paper. Image courtesy of the artist; Julia Trybala, 2016. Cut Out. Oil paint on board. Image courtesy of the artist; Silvi Kadillari, 2016. Internal Discourse. Curtain tracks grey pleated polyester chiffon and perspex. Performance still courtesy of the artist. Lucy Foster, 2016. Warrawing. Hand print on hahnehmule, ACP mount. Image courtesy of the artist; Trent Crawford, 2016. LCD (Liquid Crystal Displacement). LCD panel fluorescent aluminium, HD video. Image courtesy of the artist.
Art is hard.
Once you start making it can become obsessive. It slides in to your mind attaching itself, unshakable. It can provide moments of great elation followed immediately by equal measures of despair, with silence and applause as accompaniment with no regular rhyme or rhythm.
Art becomes a way of being. A way to relate to the world, to filter, to question, to examine, to structure, to focus, to unpick.
The artists in Debut XIII are all recent graduates from various art institutions in Victoria. In each one of them the curatorial team identified an inkling of the way these artists operate creatively in the world. Their work is engaging, strong and full of the kind of promise that shows a deepening understanding of their own practice and where the artist is headed post-academia. The work moves across explorations of painting to sculptural and performative installation. Threads emerge between the respective practice of each artist and their approach to making.
Trent Crawford presents a static sculptural form of a broken-apart screen reassembled as a kind of motionless, clinical steel frame and darkened window.
Edith Gilfedder’s temporal, colour-based work also addresses image-making processes by breaking down and analyzing structures of technology and digital imaging and their relation to painting and mark-making.
A temporal investigation of the moving and static image is also evident in Lucy Foster’s steel shelf of collaged prints, which blurs the lines between found image, created image and personal memory.
Julia Trybala’s oil paintings mesh the traditional genres of landscape and portraiture. Nuanced colour is used to segment figurative and non-figurative elements and create an ambiguous, ethereal re-presentation of reality as an imagined landscape.
Darcy Smith and Silvi Kadillari’s works incorporate performance in different ways. Silvi Kadillari uses the motif of the curtain to signal hybridity and threshold. Her fluid installations are event platforms which are often altered post-performance by the incorporation of documentation. Darcy Smith’s performances, are frequently site-specific and look at the effects of different kinds of light on sculpted glass; a material representing both fragility and strength.
Brigid Hansen, 2017. BLINDSIDE Gallery Intern + Assistant DEBUT XII Curator.
Since completing his BFA in 2016 at VCA, Trent Crawford has exhibited at Trocadero Art Space exhibition NEWER17, Blindside’s, George Paton Gallery (upcoming), and was selected as the VCA representative at Sugar Mountain festival. Crawford’s practice focuses on dismantling; interrogating the machinations of built technology, and its perceptions in different contexts by usurping its functionality and presenting them in a passive state.
Lucy Foster completed a BFA (Photography) at VCA in 2016. Delving into an archive of constructed and found imagery, the nature of Foster’s practice touches on topics of presence and absence within time. Often using elements that embody both personal and historical significance, her approach is autobiographical with an emphasis on analogue techniques and physical interventions. Foster has exhibited both nationally and internationally with institutions including the George Paton Gallery and Margaret Lawrence Gallery. Her work has been featured in Frankie magazine.
Edith Gilfedder examines obsolete technology and pixels through alternative image-making processes, often using the square as a motif. Gilfedder’s large-scale works use time-based processes and bright colours. She graduated in 2016 from RMIT.
Silvi Kadillari completed her BFA (Hons) with First Class Honours at Monash University in 2016. Her work has a particular focus on space-responsivity and the use of the curtain as a motif. It incorporates digital imaging, projection, performance, installation and documentation. In her undergraduate degree Kadillari exhibited at Flinders Streets’s Dirty Dozen and was the recipient of the 2015 Les Kossatz Memorial Prize.
Darcy Smith’s practice arcs between performance and sculpture, utilising and altering glass as her prime material. Smith creates installations based on the way natural light interacts with particular parts of a space. She graduated from Honours at Monash in 2016.
Julia Trybala is a painter who has exhibited in both group and solo exhibitions around Australia. Her work has also been featured in Voiceworks magazine. She largely works with oil on board, and completed a BFA (Expanded Studio Practice) in 2016 at RMIT.
Art School. Laborious, hierarchical, draining, constricting, challenging. It envelopes you in a theoretical grip, clings tight for about three years, then drops you on your head in the middle of a seemingly barren plain and shunts you forward without direction into an unknown, open future. Art School is punctuated by a series of oppositions; success and failure, money versus integrity, the student and the professional, the promise of productivity and the dread of being idle. And yet, Art School is a driving force for change and expansion in thinking, making and learning. It introduces us to histories, peers, ways of critical thinking and analysis. The culmination of these three years at graduation is a kind of choose-your-own-adventure: graduate, continue working, forget art entirely for a period, continue to face the totally self-imposed anxieties that come with writing a Thesis, or (please tick box) other.
The six artists selected for DEBUT XIII find themselves somewhere between all of these options and processes. Julia Trybala’s oil on board works encapsulate this sense of in-betweenness, marked by bliss and future expectation. Aptly titled, ‘Self Portrait 2017 (Post-Degree Reverie)’ and ‘Having a Sit Down (Anticipating Future Victories)’, Trybala’s orchestrated poses blend elements of figuration and abstraction, and play with colour to create evocative, highly personal work. Images of segmented body parts such as the hands and face read as a minimal salon hang of personal fragments. Created after the haze of graduation and moving out of RMIT into a new studio in the suburbs, these paintings have a certain flatness, oscillating between large blurred strokes and intricate thin lines indicating figure.
Lucy Foster engages in a continual process of making and re-making; moving from photograph to collage and assemblage and returning to re-photograph. To create ‘warrawing’ the artist visited her occupied family home to photograph her mother and herself in oppositional positions, returning later to shoot the same room empty. Time plays an integral role in the work to reconceptualise the place of the gaze and the female nude in the domestic environment. The mirror is a simulacrum of past selves and family histories where the seated sees both their past and present simultaneously. Stacked on hard-edged shelving, the image collations in the ‘hand for gladness’ series suggest the juxtaposition of memory with constructed reality and an ambiguous construction of the present.
Edith Gilfedder’s large-scale time-based ink works in the ‘Grid Generation’ series play into romantic notions of identity through technology usage and suggest the aesthetic of pixels as a form that perhaps defines the artist’s generation. Large-scale ink works interrogate the time = quality equation at work in the canon of art history, particularly Renaissance and pre-Enlightenment. Gilfedder also employs a rather mathematical colour-driven key to guide the direction of the work. Unlike the pixel, each mark of the artist’s hand is different, shifting from dark to light shades of ink and varying in scale and size. This juxtaposition of multiple planes appears both spontaneous in collision and highly calculated in construction. The simplification of line and gesture into a singular motif speaks to the construction of images and their microcosm as fragments of colour.
Trent Crawford’s ‘LCD (Liquid Crystal Displacement)’ looks more literally at the digital in his de- and reconstruction of imageries and infrastructure. An LCD panel hanging inside an artist-made industrial-style aluminium stand and frame displays a digital video. This kind of tri-dimensional approach interrogates the purpose and functionality of digital technologies in a post-new-media era of making.
The metaphorical viewing frame is evidenced in Silvi Kadillari and Darcy Smith’s works, which present different takes on fragility and absence. Smith utilises the motif of the circle and the handle to illustrate collapse, inward reflection and the feeling of clinging. Performance by the artist temporarily activates and potentially reconfigures sculptural aspects of the installation. Conversely, a fluidity exists in Kadillari’s work where chiffon curtain material carves an ephemeral space neither completely separate nor totally accessible from the main gallery space. Both artists show us instability and trace the idea of an internal monologue of conflicting thoughts.
Perhaps this is an apt metaphor for the creative journey we undertake at art school. A process measured by intervals, it is marked by beginnings and endings, openings and closures, starts and stops, entries and exits. While for many of these artists, DEBUT XIII is quite literally a marker on the path, the exhibition is also an opportunity to reflect on ongoing processes of development, interrogation and regeneration.
Brigid Hansen, 2017.
BLINDSIDE DEBUT XIII: In Conversation
BLINDSIDE intern and curatorial assistant Brigid Hansen met with the six artists selected for Debut XIII to discuss their involvement in the exhibition, art-school education in Victoria and the evolution of their respective practices.
1. Can you tell me a bit about your journey as an artist and how your practice has changed or developed over the years?
Trent Crawford (TC): I wasn’t born an artist and my family had little interest in art. I didn’t know what it was until I started skateboarding. I wanted to be a filmmaker first and made a film in 2013. It was okay. I ditched film and got into art school by lying and saying Da Vinci was my favourite artist. This isn't really true. I was going to do that but I asked Tony Garifalakis if I should and he said, “No, just tell the truth”. Now I have finished and make video art.
Silvi Kadillari (SK): I entered my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree straight from high school. The biggest break from a ‘high school’ approach to making work came in my second year when I undertook a semester of study in Italy (lectured by Stephen Garrett and Luke Morgan). A more experimental and open process emerged and began my interest in site-specificity, architecture and the body as well as working with video.
Darcy Smith (DS): I never thought I’d find my way back to dance and choreography. Movement has always played an important part in my practice as well as my sense of self. Unexpected trauma and its effects on my psychological state have been a main contributor to the outcomes of my processes. I also never thought glass would become such an integral part of my practice either, but the relationship I share with this paradoxically fragile yet strong medium is something I’ll always hold close to me.
Lucy Foster (LF): I started with my family photographs. The melancholy black and white haze sucked me in. When I began shooting for myself, the boundless dimensionalities of image making kept feeding me with ideas. My undergrad gave me perspective on the potential of those ideas and how they could be perceived in certain contexts.
Edith Gilfedder (EG): Higher educational study of my own art practice and art in historical context expanded my ideas of what art can be and what it means within community context. My practice has changed during this time and I no longer adhere to what is conventionally recognised as art. I feel free to explore ideas of systems and perception through my practice.
Julia Trybala (JT): My work has developed in an interesting and more informed way since art school. I am more aware and critical of my own work and able to respond to other artists and their approaches. I’m still figuring out a lot about my practice and glad to have finished studying for a while. I feel like distance from an institution will allow a more personal insight in my work.
2. As artists emerging from undergraduate or postgraduate art education, how do you feel this exhibition opportunity will play a part in your future career trajectory?
SK: I hope to get a studio and apply for more shows as well as undertake my MFA sometime in the future. Showing at BLINDSIDE is an invaluable opportunity to further my skills in exhibiting my work outside of the university context.
JT: Undergrad definitely helped me develop my painting practice and allowed me to further consider theory and art history. I was really lucky to be surrounded by heaps of talented people working across mediums. That for me was the best part of the course.
TC: I guess exposure is good. ‘Future career trajectory’ is a bit funny, and so is the word debut… We’re fresh pups straight out of the institution and ready to make or break - like a primary school kid on stage in their first school play. In my primary school play I was to make my debut by skateboarding across the stage. Little did I know that the smoke machine from a prior rendition of Thriller had made the stage slippery and I face planted in front of everyone mid-ride. The audience burst into laughter. I don’t know if I thought much about my career trajectory back then.
DS: After finishing my Honours year, possibly the hardest year I’ve ever endured,
I think it’s fair to say that for now I’m feeling really quite confident in the path that life seems to be taking me – specifically with my art practice. The opportunity to be part of Debut XIII is simply mind blowing; it’s practically the last thing that I would have imagined to occur finishing my degree. Obviously I know this career trajectory is going to be hard, but I don’t mind the challenge.
LF: What is an undergraduate degree in visual art worth without continuing to engage critically and creatively, and extend it to society? Opportunities such as Debut will help me continue to believe in my voice as an artist within that society.
EG: This Debut exhibition opportunity gives me confidence in my art practice. It has affirmed that my work is valued within the art community and opens the door to a career as an exhibiting artist.
3. Do you have any expectations or doubts about your ‘Debut’, so to speak?
DS: I expect sleepless nights, challenging conversations and of course ongoing self-doubt as to whether or not I’ll meet not only my own and my peers’ expectations.
LF: Only the usual anxiety and doubts that come with putting your heart on the wall.
SK: I’m looking forward to realising my graduate work in a different context and with other artists. I’m curious to see what form the work will take.
JT: Debut is a good opportunity to see other emerging artists that have completed their courses in a space that isn’t an art school.
EG: I expect this exhibition will develop my ability to communicate with curators and other artists to work together to create the best exhibit possible.
TC: Subconsciously I expect everyone to bring their A-game, which must mean I expect the exhibition will look good. I expect that some people will come. I probably expect that someone will read this.
4. How would you describe the process of negotiation in terms of fitting your work/s into the BLINDSIDE space?
LF: Being malleable is important. If there is no compromise in a group show, it’s likely to be a difficult time. In this instance, the group was extremely considerate of each individual requirement, and attentive toward the potential dialogue formed within the space.
TC: Installation hasn’t started yet, so it has been pretty straightforward so far. I met Silvi who I will be sharing a space with and I really like her work, so think it should be a nice fit.
SK: Although my work was made site-specifically for the Monash Grad Show, it’s malleable. I’m excited to see what will be brought or taken while still maintaining the central concepts. I see it as a collaboration with the other artists, specifically Trent, with whom I will be sharing a space. Working with restrictions for me is at times really liberating as it forces me to make decisions that sometimes end up working better than what I had originally planned. I'm really enjoying the process of reimagining the work in a different space.
DS: Negotiation actually excites me. Installing the objects and the subsequent live events will however, be challenging as not all the elements of the full work can fit into the space. I need to create an iteration of this installation with minimal objects, and the personal negotiation of that is pretty tough. I am concerned about the reception of the reoccurring unscheduled live events that will take place as well. My practice, and this piece in particular are intended to be versatile and adaptable, just like me.
EG: It was a positive process of negotiation with the curators who allocated space for my work in the gallery. I would have selected the same wall. Their placement shows insight to how my works are best presented.
5. DEBUT XIII presents the work of a majority of female artists. Do you believe diversity of representation in art contexts is important?
SK: Absolutely. Diversity in the arts allows for different voices to emerge, providing not only opportunities for the artists themselves and for galleries and art institutions to become open to new ideas, ways of thinking and doing. As an Albanian born, female artist, it is always encouraging to see people from different backgrounds and experiences having successful and fulfilling careers in the arts.
JT: Diversity is incredibly important within an art context. In saying that, I am a white cisgendered female, so there are far more underrepresented and important people to listen to and engage with than me.
DS: Yes, of course it’s important, not even just in relation to gender. Diversity in practice is important too! There seems to be a solid balance here, and the scale of works helps out with that, in a literal sense. However, I will not deny the fact that representation of female artists, especially those emerging, is so important and integral to the reception of contemporary art and our place within it - not only for now, but for the future.
LF: Diversity is important from every aspect. We need it now-more-than-ever given the current state of worldly affairs, but particularly in art. When art reaches out to someone who has experienced discrimination or segregation, it enables those fears to surrender to the splendour of being different and unusual. Art says, ‘it’s okay’.
TC: See countesses.blogspot.com.au
EG: Diversity within any community is important. Diversity allows a broader spectrum of ideas to be communicated and interpreted.
6. Are opportunities like DEBUT important for emerging artists?
JT: Yes, definitely. After the arduous build-up to the Grad Show, it was great to see opportunities and prizes awarded to people that have been working so hard. It’s super encouraging to see exhibitions like this come together.
LF: Undoubtedly. Having the encouragement to push through, keep questioning and dig deep is always an invaluable opportunity, especially in times of transition.
SK: Having an insight into ARIs and building on the knowledge and skills needed to put on an exhibition is crucial. DEBUT provides an opportunity for this learning by doing. It’s also a great opportunity to meet other artists and network. It’s very encouraging for someone that has left the (often) comfortable and available amenities of the university to continue to make work independently to know that their work can be recognised and exhibited.
DS: Definitely. It is not an opportunity that just gets handed to you. It’s a huge pat on the back for all the all-nighters you pulled before critique sessions. It’s saying: ‘You did it! Now keep going!’. It’s hard to exhibit when finances are an impeding factor on whether or not you even bother to apply for a show when it costs over a month’s rent. It’s also pretty easy to lose all drive after finishing 3 or more years of studying full- time due to exhaustion.
TC: Of course! I don’t think I could really answer this question and say, ‘No, they aren’t important. Emerging artists don’t need a hand’. They are very important.
EG: Absolutely! This opportunity creates a bridge between higher educational study and art in the broader community. It gives artists the confidence in their work and affirms that the work during university was all worth it.