A corrupting metaphor? Artists ponder disease & the arts – Thursday 8 December talk at RMIT Gallery

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Lienors Torre, Cabinet of Ocular Obscurities, referencing the grotesque sideshow or museum displays of biological abnormalities. Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts installation image by Mark Ashkanasy, RMIT Gallery, 2016.

Join  us on Thursday 8 December from 5.30-6.30pm  at RMIT Gallery when Sean Redmond co-curator of Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts discusses science, the arts and disease with Alison Bennett, Drew Berry, and Lienors Torre. And there will be poetry as well as pondering.

In his review on the exhibition for The Article, Sam Leach commented “The works provide scope for a poetic and elliptical understanding of the interactions between humans and non-humans and the ideas of connection and contamination.”

Speakers:

Lienors Torre’s multi-media and glass work on degenerative vision explores how our view of the world is metered and tainted by digital technologies. Consisting of a large glass eyeball, Ipad and augmented application, and a glass cabinet full of glass jars filled with water in varying degrees of opacity and with engraved eye images on them, eyes quickly become raindrops, as the liquidity of vision is brought to watery life. There are tears and scars that reflect across the eyes of this exquisite art-piece.

Alison Bennett’s touch-based screen work presents the viewer with a high-resolution scan of bruised skin. Invited to touch the soft and damaged tissue before them, their eyes become organs of touch, and their fingers work as sensory digits that feel as they move over what becomes a damaged but delicate bio-art surface.

In Drew Berry’s work, infectious cells are set free onto walls so that the very connective tissue of the exhibition room teems with the droplets of life and death. Herpes, influenza, HIV, polio and smallpox bacteria take flight, are magnified, so that those entering the space are hit by scale and size, and take part in this chorea of the senses.

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Invasion of the Ants (2016), three screen installation by Joshua Redmond and Sean Redmond, Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts. Installation image by Mark Ashkanasy, 2016, RMIT Gallery.

In Sean and Josh Redmond’s three-screen video installation, ants become a different type of political disease. Combining found and actuality footage, the work uses the metaphors of ant invasion to re-envision the current refugee crisis and the way stateless people are made to be matter-out-of place. The central image of the piece, a flimsy toy dinghy floating on the salty water, recalls Australia’s turn back the boat policy, and the haunting truth that it is children who are made to suffer most. This is a disease of political undertaking.

What: Morbis Artis – panel discussion with Sean Redmond, Alison Bennett, Drew Berry and Lienors Torre.

When: Thursday 8 December 5.30-6.30 pm

Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne.

 Freeplease register.

Artists discuss ‘diseases of the arts’ at RMIT Gallery

RMIT Gallery 2016 Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts Date: 17 NOV 2016 - 18 FEB 2017 Location: RMIT Gallery, City campus Morbis Artis explores the radical conjunction between the biomolecular and the artistic, and the thin doorway between life and death housed within discourses of disease.

Photo by Mark Ashkanasy, RMIT Gallery 2016

Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts at RMIT Gallery (17 November – 18 February 2016) is an interactive bio-art exhibition that uses actual and metaphoric communicative diseases to explore the fractured relationship between human and non-human life.

Join us at RMIT Gallery on Thursday 1 December from 5.30 – 6.30 pm as Cameron Bishop, Chris Henschke, Harry Nankin, Darrin Verhagen and Anne Scott Wilson discuss translating metaphor into art and their work in Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts. 

RMIT Gallery 2016 Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts Date: 17 NOV 2016 - 18 FEB 2017 Location: RMIT Gallery, City campus Morbis Artis explores the radical conjunction between the biomolecular and the artistic, and the thin doorway between life and death housed within discourses of disease.

The Zero Machine (or The Human Stain Remover), Cameron Bishop & Simon Reis. 
 Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts, RMIT Gallery installation image by Mark Ashkanasy, 2016.

Cameron Bishop’s mechanical installation seeks to rid the art world of all diseased art. This playful machine aesthetic re-mediates art ‘masterpieces’ as they are pressed and turned through the machine, coming out cleaned of all impressionable colour, line and shape. The blank surface we are left with is the ultimate neo-liberal art piece – instantly copyable and immediately forgettable.

RMIT Gallery 2016 Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts Date: 17 NOV 2016 - 18 FEB 2017 Location: RMIT Gallery, City campus Morbis Artis explores the radical conjunction between the biomolecular and the artistic, and the thin doorway between life and death housed within discourses of disease.

Song of the Phenomena, 2016, by Chris Henschke. Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts. RMIT Gallery installation image by Mark Ashkanasy, 2016.

Chris Henschke’s work explores anti-matter as we bare witness to how radiation is released by organic matter. Using an actual particle accelerator, the work shows how the humble bananaemits antimatter on a regular basis. In an age where we fear the way antimatter impacts upon the nature of everyday life and the workings of the cosmos, we see how the organic itself brings potential dissolution to the human world.

RMIT Gallery 2016 Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts Date: 17 NOV 2016 - 18 FEB 2017 Location: RMIT Gallery, City campus Morbis Artis explores the radical conjunction between the biomolecular and the artistic, and the thin doorway between life and death housed within discourses of disease.

Syzygy (2007-16) by Harry Nankin
Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts, RMIT Gallery installation image by Mark Ashkanasy, 2016

In Harry Nankin’s nine, multi-panel palimpsests displayed on light boxes, lake becomes semi-arid land as the impact of the contemporary ecological crisis finds its root and branch in starlight and shadowgram as live invertebrates mourn the age of the anthropocene. The work ‘photo-poetically’ memorializes this erasure, resurrecting the dry lakebed into a focal plane upon which primal starlight is used to imprint photographic films on moonless nights. The environmental disease at the heart of this work is human-made: as we lay waste to our planet, the stars are slowly going out.

RMIT Gallery 2016 Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts Date: 17 NOV 2016 - 18 FEB 2017 Location: RMIT Gallery, City campus Morbis Artis explores the radical conjunction between the biomolecular and the artistic, and the thin doorway between life and death housed within discourses of disease.

blue/red:VIM/SIMS (2016) 
Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts, RMIT Gallery installation image by Mark Ashkanasy 2016

In Darrin Verhagen’s work with the group (((20hz))) sound-image installation explores the way audio-visual fields can wildly affect the well-being of the hearing-viewer. With two catastrophic audio-vision soundtracks that register as sickly encounters, one can choose to hear without commentary, or to hear about how and why the soundscape induces nausea. Pulsating light beams and reflections accompany these sound pieces like a cosmos is dying and exploding before us.

RMIT Gallery 2016 Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts Date: 17 NOV 2016 - 18 FEB 2017 Location: RMIT Gallery, City campus Morbis Artis explores the radical conjunction between the biomolecular and the artistic, and the thin doorway between life and death housed within discourses of disease.

Fluid retention, 2016 
Morbis Artis: Diseases of the Arts, RMIT Gallery installation image by Mark Ashkanasy, 2016

Anne Scott Wilson’s balloon installation and video projection explores the poetics of gravity and the chrononormativity of time to account and prepare us for the not-living that eventually befalls us all. The stillness of the balloon and the movement of the ballet dancer speak to the material divide between the body that lives, that dies, and that then, perhaps, floats away.

What: Panel discussion artist talk with Cameron Bishop, Chris Henschke, Harry Nankin, Darrin Verhagen and Anne Scott Wilson

When: Thursday 1 December 5.30-6.30 pm

Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street Melbourne

Bookings: free – please register 

 

Elizabeth Gower artist talk: Friday 15 April

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Elizabeth Gower with her installation ‘he loves me, he loves me not’. Photo: Margund Sallowsky, RMIT Gallery, 2016.

Join RMIT alumnus artist Elizabeth Gower at RMIT Gallery on Friday 15 April from 1-2 pm as she discusses her current exhibition ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ in which she wrote the phrase 21,319 times symbolically representing a lifetime of seeking male approval.

Dr Elizabeth Gower is an award winning artist who teaches at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. She has exhibited internationally and in numerous solo and major group exhibitions. Gower’s installation at RMIT Gallery is an extension of a small perishable work initially created in Paris in 2007.

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Elizabeth Gower’s exhibition at RMIT Gallery, ‘he loves me, he loves me not’. Installation image by Tobias Titz, 2016.

Gower’s monumental work ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ developed from chalk inscriptions on black walls and as a performance included in ‘Live in the Limo’ (auspiced by AC Institute, New York) at the 2009 Armory Show in which participants were invited to pluck petals off a daisy while asking the question.

In this floor talk, Gower will discuss how the opportunity to develop the project into a large scale, site-specific installation (consisting of 20 lengths of semi- transparent drafting film, each approximately 80 cm x 600 cm, suspended between the ceiling and the floor, each inscribed with the handwritten phrase ‘he loves me, he loves me not’) has had a direct correlation to the concept and content of the work.

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Elizabeth Gower ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ exhibition image, Margund Sallowsky, 2016.

Gower says her the ideas behind her installation go beyond romantic love. “There is an obvious reference to the game of picking petals from a daisy while chanting the phrase ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ to determine devotion or rejection. But my exploration of the phrase addresses issues that reach beyond mere speculation of romantic love and desire.”

“In the installation, the semi transparency of the drafting film, and the lightness of the text create a subtle, ethereal fragility. I quite like the idea that the whole enterprise can just be erased, which equates with the notion that the desire for validation can also be impermanent and erased.”

What: Elizabeth Gower artist talk

When: Friday 15 April

Time: 1-2 pm

Where: RMIT Gallery, 344 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Bookings: Free.

 

Art as a Healing Process: Ken + Julia Yonetani at RMIT Gallery

Ken and Julia Yonetani under their 'Crystal Palace' chandelier at RMIT Gallery in the exhibition Japanese Art After Fukushima. Photo: Evelyn Tsitas

Ken and Julia Yonetani under their ‘Crystal Palace’ chandelier at RMIT Gallery in the exhibition Japanese Art After Fukushima. Photo: Evelyn Tsitas

“We consider our works as a kind of healing process,” Ken + Julia Yonetani.

The large audience that gathered at RMIT Gallery on 26 May for the talk by artists Ken and Julia Yonetani ranged in age from school groups to art scene stalwarts and those with a strong interest in environmental issues. They were interested in the compelling narrative of the collaborative duos works which focus on environmental issues through a highly poetic aesthetic.

The Yonetanis work in the RMIT Gallery exhibition Japanese Art After Fukushima: Return of Godzilla (until 30 May), comprises of a disturbingly beautiful sign that glows with the word ‘radioactive’ and two beguilingly beautiful chandeliers from a larger installation of 31 works entitled ‘Crystal Palace: The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nuclear Nations’ (2013).

Julia and Ken Yonetani at RMIT Gallery for their artist talk on May 26. Works behind them are from the exhibition

Julia and Ken Yonetani at RMIT Gallery for their artist talk on May 26. Works behind them are from the exhibition “Terry Burrows – Backs of Banaras’. Photo: Evelyn Tsitas

Presented in a black room at RMIT Gallery, the two chandeliers are theatrical but eerie, emitting a compelling green glow. One question from a member of the audience upon hearing that these reconstructed light fittings were made from depleted uranium crystal was – ‘where do you source such a thing?’ Forget all the James Bond movies you have seen – the answer, as Julia told a bemused group, was the Internet.

“Of course!” added Ken. “Where we all buy everything! It’s no secret – you can get the uranium crystals on the Internet.”

Ken and Julia Yonetani under the 'Crystal Palace' chandelier made from depleted uranium crystal and sourced from the Internet. Photo: Evelyn tsitas

Ken and Julia Yonetani under the ‘Crystal Palace’ chandelier made from depleted uranium crystal and sourced from the Internet. Photo: Evelyn Tsitas

Harder to find, obviously are ideas – specifically, as one person in the audience observed – ‘how do you convey complex ideas about the environment, such as radioactivity and salinity, in artworks?”

Of course, that is a question for audiences to ponder and artists to execute. Some inkling of the combination of skills both ken and Julia bring to their artistic collaborations can be seen in their resumes – Ken Yonetani received a Bachelor of Economics in Japan and worked in the Foreign Exchange Market in Tokyo for three years, in a highly stressful job. Following this, he was an assistant for pottery master, Toshio Kinjo, oldest son of Jiro Kinjo a National Living Treasure of Japan, and then he completed his M.A. at The Australian National University School of Art in 2005.

Julia Yonetani brings to their art her background also as a writer, and researcher, and she holds a PhD from the Australian National University. Julia has held positions lecturing and researching in History, Cultural Studies, and Art Theory at the University of New South Wales, Western Sydney University and the University of the Ryukyus, Japan.

A slide of Ken Yonetani's Geiger counter which he used while on a research trip around the top end of Australia with Julia Yonetani - the hand held device is capable of detecting ionizing radiation. Photo: Evelyn Tsitas

A slide of Ken Yonetani’s Geiger counter which he used while on a research trip around the top end of Australia with Julia Yonetani – the hand held device is capable of detecting ionizing radiation. Photo: Evelyn Tsitas

Perhaps in this powerful combination of an affinity and skill in research, writing, an eye to the marketplace and intense art training that the ability to convey complex ideas visually is manifested in their work. then again, perhaps it does the artists – any artists – a disservice to pry to hard into the Petri dish of inspiration and artistic imagination that conjures up art.

In a fascinating essay by Melanie Pollock their first book “Ken + Julia Yonetani” they explain “our motivation is not necessarily to motivate other people, but to express our own anxieties about the environment. We consider our works as a kind of healing process, which ultimately is very personal.”

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