30 March – 16 April 2016
Opening Night | Thursday 31 March 6 – 8pm
Slipping Down is an exhibition by emerging South Australian artist Kate Power that considers coexistence and enforced social constructions that can complicate how we relate to others.
By examining fictional literature, philosophy and pop-culture, Power draws attention to the frustrating impenetrability of others to explore feelings of uncertainty, desire and social deviance. Using forms that are erotic, humorous and ambiguous, she aims to perform the strangeness of everyday affects in order to celebrate human bathos, offering empathetic dialogues.
Slipping Down is an exhibition by South Australian artist Kate Power that considers coexistence and enforced social constructions that can complicate how we relate to others. By examining fictional literature, philosophy and pop-culture, Power draws attention to the frustrating impenetrability of others to explore feelings of uncertainty, desire and social deviance.
Kate Power’s visual arts practice encompasses performance, installation and considered object-making. Through these mediums she responds to the way people interact with eachother. Societal structures and social pressures affect the different energies exchanged, affecting the physical ways we might reach out to eachother, our intimacies and our discomforts.
Power’s installations take on dualities we are familiar with: comfort/discomfort, sensual/grotesque, even taking on a peculiar inanimate/intimate balance. Power’s sculptural forms in particular are a bit self-conscious. There is something about them.
The works are plump, healthy and little bit sexy. I feel a bit bad for staring.
Whilst they seem a bit like they want to be looked at, I feel like part of them doesn’t want me to look at them. Sometimes they slump, sometimes they weep and sometimes they seem to look up at me for a moment, inviting me to gaze at their tactile surfaces or glitzy outfits – then they suddenly withdraw and I have to pretend I was looking at something else.
A video-sculpture hybrid piece, with an inviting plush exterior lures us to peer inside. A painterly, pink gush is looped. There is a sense of satisfaction felt when watching this babbling pink liquid. Its composition is secretive and alluring and the peculiar satisfaction through seeing liquid encased in solid. And the feelings of longing to maybe dip a finger in.
Again, a bit sexy. Stop looking.
Sudden changes in the energies exchanged between people (or in this case, myself and one of Kate’s characters) are something that the artist is interested in. That sound of the ball dropping. Or the sound of it being picked up again and we can connect once more. These shifts can be caused by social expectation, perhaps sexual energies that can inhibit or uninhibit our actions. Sometimes there are moments that don’t seem to be governed by these feelings, there is an uncharted place of inhibition, even comfort, and the connection grows. Which all of a sudden becomes a bit too intimate and the shift occurs – we withdraw with something like ‘Well, I don’t know’, break the now uncomfortable eye contact and the ball drops.
Mikala Dwyer’s installations are recalled as we see multiple materials harmonising together, apparently engaging in some secret meeting. Or more uncomfortably, a private joke. Or perhaps their communion is open and ready for us. Power’s installations also engage individual pieces in dialogue with eachother. She describes this arrangement as ‘social’, which of course can have its comforts and discomforts as close social proximity can affect the energies in the room. Power describes this orchestration as deciding ‘who gets to play with who’.
Kate’s characters dress luxe. For example, Madam Mâché in all her glory – opalescent head, oxblood velvet gown. She’s dressed to a tee. Compared to her other subjects surrounding her she appears the most stable. Her choice in materials highlights and exaggerates the small moments where we experience these energy shifts, which sometimes can’t be articulated, are brought to full light and extended. Precarious augmentations of works attempt to express these little nuances in interactions – teetering and balancing, tiny moments of space between somewhat threatening pointy- sharps edging closer to lush curves.
Power’s work often examines these energy exchanges through the lens of feminist methodologies. Power considers the thinking of Elizabeth Grosz who describes how we can never truly “stand back from the body and its experiences and reflect upon them’’1. Perhaps those moments when you catch yourself realising that you are actually peering out of your head, perhaps you visualise yourself for a moment, or you look in the mirror. Probably as close to standing away as you can get. Sometimes standing away from ourselves in reflected in who we are interacting with.
Video performance You’re Telling Me silently re-performs that bit of blah-blah that we all engage with during social chatter. The close up of the mouth stirs both discomfort and intimacy. As Power shows us this duality of ‘small-talk’ she is often babbling jibberish words, but minus sound they still read as ‘hi what did you eat for breakfast today’. Perhaps we can never really get around small-talk (as big-talk does come across as arrogant, I know). I am recalling a million different Buzzfeed articles/internet-diagnoses about ‘how to spot on introvert’ or ‘I’m not rude I just can’t deal with small talk/don’t really want to talk to you’. Yes, there is a bit of judgement thrown around depending how well one deals with social interactions. Are you ‘socially awkward’? The spectrum is a bit ostracizing.
This exhibition sees Power’s characters extend themselves to us and share with us their moments. The works tap into our desire to take a peek but at the same time there is sense of privacy and intimacy that we have stumbled upon. Connections and energies from spending time with people, or spending time alone, are diverse. And even if it does get a bit awkward (cue leaving the room) it can be a bit funny as well (cue laughing hysterically) but maybe you laughed a bit too much (cue leaving the room once more).
- LAUREN ABINERI