Date: 24-May-2008 – 15-Jun-2008
Location: Contemporary Art Tasmania
Mint will keep moths off your cabbage plants, and for a good yield of broccoli you might first plant a crop of peas. This is ‘companion planting’, an agricultural practice that harnesses the symbiosis of organisms, rather than introducing chemicals, to protect plants from pests and increase their productivity. At a time when we confront the disastrous environmental consequences of an historically war-like attitude towards the natural world, the premise of this exhibition is that the growth of culture and nature are unavoidably interrelated, for better or worse.
Lucy Bleach’s installation featuring an armchair of agar jelly challenges our delusion of objectivity and autonomy, as art viewers and as members of the ecosystem. As invisible fungal spores and bacteria in the gallery accept the hospitality offered by Bleach’s medium, her work will become host to a living culture literally fed on the juice of pears. Meanwhile Michelle Cangiano’s jewellery yearns for union with a human body. Her ‘horizon-line’ installation contains pieces made over several years. The title Looking Back Made Easy suggests some significant meanings kernelled like DNA within these precious objects, which have been created using such ancient elements as Huon Pine, silver and steel.
Dean Chatwin recreates a familiar scene of wastage with It won’t grow…. A sprinkler forlornly dribbles water onto a slab of concrete and as the pointless watering continues on and on, the insanity of carelessly diminishing the very natural resources we depend on for life ominously sinks in. Equally disturbing are the video works of Raef Sawford who explores the psychological angst that derives from efforts at controlling the elegance of nature through artificial organisational structures. Techniques of repetition help expose the insidiousness behind the constructs that make daily experience comfortable and predictable.
Like the outdoor version of a cubby made of bed sheets, Amanda Shone’s cave of sleeping bags is a space for adventure and imagination. As we explore into the depths of her installation our presence is aurally thrown back at us. ‘Wilderness’, it seems, is something wonderful we create for ourselves.
Companion Planting is the thirteenth exhibition to be realised through CAST’s Curatorial Mentorship Program, which assists an individual to plan and execute their first major group show.