WHO: Vilma Bader, Pamela Brenner, Johannes Muljana, Jason Christopher, Verena Heirich, Allana McAfee, Jonathan McBurnie and Vienna del Rosario Parreno (Sydney). Aleksander Bohnak, Ilah Cookston, Roma Devanbu, Gioia Fonda, Ianna Frisby, Cherilyn Naughton and Katie Thomas (Sacramento).
WHEN: Opening Thursday May 9, 6pm May 10-31. Mon-Fri 10am-5pm
WHERE: Verge Gallery, City Road, Jane Foss Russell Plaza, University of Sydney
CONTACT: Greg Shapley on 9563-6218 or email@example.com
‘Translations’: A Sydney Sacramento Exchange is a combined project between Sydney’s Verge Gallery, and the similarly named Verge Art Center in Sacramento. The project explores how communication through the internet can be misinterpreted by an individual’s cultural and social background. Although sharing a name, these art spaces are separated by oceans and vast distances. Perhaps a metaphor for a gulf in understanding, these chasms, revealed as misunderstandings and misinterpretations, uncover the myth of the internet as a tool that eradicates distance and difference.
Seven artists in Sydney have been blindly paired with seven artists in Sacramento. These pairs have swapped instructions for an artwork which they create with minimal input from corresponding artists. Each of the artists have been challenged to realise artworks in ways that represent the original artists’ intentions, but this is an impossible ask. Artists will bring their own skills, cultures and life experiences to the work, creating a hybridised form.
For instance, Sacramento artist, Alek Bohnak, instructed Sydney artist, Vilma Bader, to “Gradually cover…your actual self…with something that restricts your ability to move and makes you feel restricted or bound and reflects a state of feeling restricted in your life”. Her response was Culturally Bound Syndromes; a performance-based work in which a ‘patient’ is wrapped up by a ‘doctor’ into a roll of over two hundred and fifty metres of psychological disorders. A fundamental recognition of marginalised and silenced people is that all acts of naming are also acts of imperialism (as recently as the 1970s, the American Psychiatric Association still classified homosexuality as a mental illness). Language is intimately tied up with issues of possession and power. In the context of this work, it is something oppressively inscribed on the subject, making ‘her’ intelligible and therefore an object of control.
In another example, Allana McAfee, has been instructed by her Sacramento counterpart, Ianna Frisby, to become a spy, using film, photography and audio to surveil the (Sydney) Verge Gallery, employing ‘moles’ (gallery volunteers) to extract information. To achieve this McAfee will use remote control toy vehicles armed with cameras and audio visual equipment, hi-tech computer surveillance software, and low-tech spy clichés (such as the window washer with the button hole camera and other classic ‘Get Smart’ devices).
‘Translations: A Sydney–Sacramento Exchange’ opens on Thursday May 9, 6pm and runs until May 31.