Lookout

Curator

MICHAEL EDWARDS & JANE STEWART

Artists

BEC STEVENS

JACK ROBINS

NANCY MAURO-FLUDE

ANDREW HARPER

ADAM CUTHBERT

MARY SCOTT

DAVID KEELING

JULIE GOUGH

MICHAEL SINGE

Lookout

Date: 13-Mar-2010 – 04-Jul-2010

Location: TASMANIAN MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY, HOBART

Lookout is the sixth project in a series partnered by CAST and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery which aims to promote contemporary Tasmanian artists. Though the nine artists are at different stages in their careers, each looks outwards and responds directly to the world surrounding them. Demonstrating an awareness of a new internationalism in contemporary art practice, they create artworks that reference a divergent range of local and global issues including the environment, history, politics, knowledge systems and public spaces.

Mary Scott’s The Book of Measure is composed of 185 hand-drawn images which are set out in the approximate order of a book; complete with cover, frontispiece, chapters, images and colophon. The project explores the idea of the construction of ‘knowledge’ as being an irrational process based upon the accumulation and taxonomic ordering of data, guided by curiosity rather than rationality. The artist has deliberately abandoned logic to instead, bring pictures together through opposition and association. Scott compares The Book of Measure to Pre-Enlightenment natural history collections which were established from the personal interests and fascinations of the collector, rather than the later institutional emphasis on order and scientific certainty.

This is the third version of Julie Gough’s Forcefield. The fence protecting the hearth and introduced apple tree lists the names of the major land grants to settlers in Tasmania prior to1830.  Inside the fence, the floor is covered with glued down pages from Keith Windschuttle’s The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Volume 1, to demonstrate the problematic nature of history as we receive it. The artist invites the audience to walk on the text in order to ‘blacken and erase it’. Upon entering the work, one discovers the 1825 Magistrates Report on the mantle that refers to a shooting involving Gough’s ancestor Dalrymple Briggs and the colonial surgeon and landowner Dr Jacob Mountgarrett.

Bec Stevens trained originally in environmental design and from this foundation she makes art installations that draw our attention to the incongruous relationships we maintain with the spaces, sites and structures we occupy. For Land/Fill, she has ‘rescued’ three reproductions of idyllic scenes from the tip shop and re-presented them as living objects sustained by individually tailored environments. The ‘low-brow’ images were on the way to becoming land fill rather than being preserved in the museum environment. At the same time, the objects appear to be kept ‘alive’ in quasi-scientific environments while they are in fact being exposed to climatic conditions that speed-up the deteriorative actions and effects of time.

Michael Singe’s sculptural practice has been charged with a new environmentalism since relocating to Tasmania from Western Australia in 2009. During the past 12 months, he has taken into account the currency of climate change and its impact to develop a sustainable art practice. 30 minute carbon capture and storage is a video of the artist securing his breath in a converted weather balloon as an act of carbon capture. It also has a potential for future use to drive small generators to produce enough energy to power electronic technologies, including the artist’s own electronic-based artworks in gallery environments.

Jack Robins’ Bunker Down forces visitors to make a decision about how they will enter the gallery. The artist is interested in architectural considerations and outcomes that surround public space and public control. His large, sculptural forms and gallery interventions often lead the audience to conclude they are experiencing some high modernist form, rather than realising that the object’s function is to manipulate the way in which they can move within and through the space.

Andrew Harper’s Flaneur Project: The Midlands Highway will occur during the period of the exhibition. The work will comprise of the documentation prior to commencing, and iPhone, GPS and Google map downloads from the experience of walking from Launceston to Hobart. Not dissimilar to Mary Scott’s book, Harper intends to create a cognitive map of the midlands highway from his interaction with people along the journey. The work is entirely provisional, and is at risk of technical, climatic, health and safety and other potential impediments. Neither the artist or the curators – nor the audience/participants – can preconceive the realised form and content of this work.

Adam Cuthbert constructs large, complex narrative driven images, sets and models to present either as objects or as digitally enhanced images. The images from the Unnatural Landscape series appear to operate somewhere between promotional images of ‘pristine’ wilderness settings and simulations of the very same thing. In reality, Cuthbert’s model of this strange and accidental Tasmania is a peculiar, large rectangular garden; alive with moss and housed indoors it is continuously changing under the artist’s regular manipulation.

Nancy Mauro-Flude’s I see you: a day of research is a projection of an act of ‘video sniffing’ (walking the streets with a 2.4 ghz receiver trying to detect what material with a video capacity is available on the public bandwidth). In 2003, when happening across the security monitoring system at Parliament House, she contrived to walk along the front of the building on the hour, every hour, during the course of one night while gathering material for this work. Eventually, Parliament Security began to realise something irregular was happening and their monitoring activity become quite frantic.

Mauro-Flude’s other work, Bag Lady 2.0, will unfold throughout the four month duration of the exhibition. The artist has engineered a small computer which hides in the black handbag placed in front of a gaffer-taped map of Hobart. At times, she will take the handbag and its electronic components for a walk in the streets, secretly capturing images of the local environment. The photographs will be printed and stuck to relevant points on the map, while she will also continue to capture moving footage and update the Bag Lady website. Daily RSS (Rich Site Summary) news feeds from The Mercury flash constantly at the bottom of the screen, emphasising the works immediate relationship to time and locality.

David Keeling’s paintings recollect a recent culture which is now past. They use the visual absurdity of garage sales to capture the 1970/80s through music, furniture, decoration, art, and toys. Although personal in some respects, they may also be considered a comic form of history painting. Ironically, Keeling usually locates the garage sales in the suburban fringe – where new streets and houses are encroaching on natural bush land. In this sense, the ‘garage sale paintings’ are an interesting extension of his oeuvre which consistently references the problematic idea of property in a Tasmanian context.

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