Zanny Begg, Caroline Garcia and Yandell Walton
This edition of BLINDSIDE’s PLAY2 brings together works that speak to the public nature of Federation Square’s big screen and provides a platform for social and cultural commentary. Zanny Begg’s cinematic work The Bullwhip Effect takes on the double-entendre of this phrase, used in the financial sector and its reference to Australian landscape and agriculture. Caroline Garcia’s Primitive Nostalgia traipses through found footage of native dances, highlighting origins of contemporary cultural appropriations. Departed by Yandell Walton is an inquiry into people’s perception of the after-life. Exploring economic, cultural and spiritual concepts, these works provide unique commentary on contemporary Australian life and culture.
Zanny Begg, The Bullwhip Effect, 2017, 6m
Caroline Garcia, Primitive Nostalgia, 2014, 5m29s
Yandell Walton, Departed, 2016, 4m59s
This edition of BLINDSIDE’s PLAY2 at Federation Square brings together artists Zanny Begg, Caroline Garcia and Yandell Walton. In curating this edition, I took the public platform of Federation Square’s big screen (FedTV) as my focus. In the centre of Melbourne’s CBD, Federation Square is a hub of activity in the city, hosting numerous festivals and community events and screening everything from sporting grand finals to significant political moments. Therefore, I wanted the works in PLAY2 to speak to the public nature of this screen and provide a platform for social and cultural commentary. Zanny Begg’s cinematic work The Bullwhip Effect takes on the double-entendre of this phrase, used in the financial sector and its reference to Australian landscape and agriculture. Caroline Garcia’s Primitive Nostalgia traipses through film footage of various native dances, highlighting the exoticism of traditional dance imposed on by the Western eye. Departed by Yandell Walton is an inquiry into people’s perception of the after-life, taken from interviews with participants. Exploring economic, cultural and spiritual concepts, these three works provide unique commentary on contemporary Australian life and culture.
Artist and filmmaker Zanny Begg’s work explores the architecture of social change. Her short film The Bullwhip Effect, speaks to a quintessential Australian agricultural tool as well as the economics of supply and demand across global markets. The bullwhip when cracked creates a sonic boom that is used to direct and control livestock across open country. The title of this work, The Bullwhip Effect, is taken from an economic term used to describe accelerating unpredictability within complex supply chains.The further from the crack of the whip, the greater the distortion of the wave-patterns thus The Bullwhip Effect is a phenomenon used to illustrate the causes of overproduction and/or shortages in markets across the globe. Begg’s The Bullwhip Effect stars Emiliqua East, a 17-year-old rising champion of whip-cracking. Ringing out like gunshots, East’s whip sounds out as a warning, yet her effortless expert handling of the whip is tantalising and almost meditative. The viewer is seduced by her, yet on edge about the potential damage of the whip. As her target shifts to vegetables, fish, meat and glass bottles, her aim is precise, yet shrapnel ricochets, impacting everything around it. The casting of a young girl in this work speaks to the generational impact of market trends, the unpredictability of global trade and its impact on the Australian landscape, both present and future.
Caroline Garcia’s work Primitive Nostalgia explores cultural appropriation, exoticism and spectacle through traditional dance. Taking excerpts of dance scenes from film footage, Garcia crudely photoshops herself into these sequences. Her presence is clearly inauthentic, although her costume and choreography matches the dancers in the film almost exactly. What becomes obvious is the recurring imagery of the ‘primitive’ dancers being watched by predominantly western viewers. In these scenes, the dances are void of all historic context and performed as entertainment and spectacle rather than ritual and tradition. The film scenes go through dances of native American Indians, Spanish Flamenco, Hawaiian Hula, Roman, Japanese, Indian, African and Chinese, emphasising the world-wide phenomenon of misappropriation of cultural dance. Primitive Nostalgia further explores how the spectacle and exocticised performance of these traditional dances has informed contemporary dance and our understanding of indigenous culture. In contemporary culture, what type of dance will stand the test of time and what will it mean?
Yandell Walton is predominantly known for her large-scale, site-specific projection works. Infiltrating public areas with works addressing environmental, political and social issues, Walton investigates the significance and impact of public areas. Originally commissioned by the City of Wagga Wagga, Departed explores representations of the afterlife, inspired by conversations with people from the local community. The animation models the figures into obscure and unidentifiable persons, as they seem to be floating in a kind of oblivion or abyss. The work does not necessarily provide any answers to the question of the after-life, but surveys a community, which could be any community, at a particular point in time. Faith, religion and death are such integral factors of being human, yet in contemporary Australia, it is not something that is widely surveyed outside of the Census. Without enforcing any particular view, Departed brings this discussion to the forefront in an inclusive way.
These three works by Zanny Begg, Caroline Garcia and Yandell Walton speak to a range of social issues. Each is a stand-alone work but together they frame a unique perspective of contemporary Australian society. With FedTV as the stage for these works, they are vocalised to a metropolitan community in the heart of the CBD.
Kali Michailidis, 2017