The Pickup Artists
Date: 17-Apr-2014 – 01-Jun-2014
Location: Contemporary Art Tasmania
Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown, the mysterious, the unexplainable. That is why you are here…
The Amazing Criswell, Plan 9 from Outer Space (1957), Writer/Director: Ed Wood
Quests for ‘contact’ could be written off as being a mere fascination of Generation X(files) but, for the contemporary artist who craves communication and a potential new audience, it offers more than a pop-culture buzz. As strategic marketing, searching beyond our known existence offers possibility, regardless of opinions that register this search as either canny or desperate.
Mish Meijers and Sally Rees pursue paranormal entities through ‘calling’ and ‘luring’; they send signals and coded visual messages with the hope of obtaining some response. Their decoys are for convincing ‘visitors’ that the gallery is a safe and welcoming space for them to enter.
For this exhibition the artists have developed two new bodies of work alongside an intersecting, collaborative work. The works fulfill a dual purpose: as devices for communication and simultaneously, a collection of artworks. The gallery is entered through a passage – a preparatory space in which to conjure the pregnant question at the crux of the matter: Is there anybody out there?
Meijers continues to use visual language for egalitarian dialogue. In The Pickup Artists she pays homage to the content of the recordings sent into space with the Voyager space shuttles in 1977 & ‘79. The golden facades of those discs were inscribed with abstract symbols intended to inform alien life about the complexities of human existence. Meijers updates this content to include contemporary issues with a series of subversive and ambiguous symbolic narratives on gender roles, the delineation of taste, self-help cultures and the artist as a broadcaster.
Rees creates welcoming environments for spirits and ghost-forms through suggesting that ‘others’ are already there. Her works are a collection of artificial, spiritual manifestations, built on a premise that the contemporary spirit is a media-savvy entity, and one that is well-aware of cultural forms of ghost-imagery: the draped sheet with eyeholes, ectoplasm, realm transgression via mediums and poltergeist.
Neither Meijers or Rees comfortably wear the mantle of ‘true believer,’ nor do they adopt a position of cool atheism around the paranormal. Instead, both firmly identify with the optimism in the poster in Fox Mulder’s office that stated, ‘I want to believe’. By activating the gallery and building as both grand antenna and parapsychological field journal, they endeavor to keep the lines of communication wide open.
Meijers is a cross-disciplinary artist who experiments in surface tensions, how one material conforms or abrades against the other – actually and conceptually. She has exhibited extensively as a solo artist and in collaboration with Tricky Walsh for The Collector project. Recent exhibition highlights include: The Collector project 7, Monash Museum of Art (2012), FLUX Factory & Buzzer thirty, New York (2011), Trophy Wife, Death be Kind, Melbourne (2011) and Machine no.6, Sangkring Art Space, Jogjakarta (2011).
Rees works across time-based media and static artforms to explore points of human frailty and revelation. She has exhibited throughout Australia and internationally including: Poets and Painters: a tribute to Dick Bett, Bett Gallery, Hobart (2013), The French Connection, Artspace, Richmond, VA, USA (2012) and The Mirror Effect, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (2010). Rees is currently undertaking a PhD at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmanian.
Mish Meijers has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.