JUNE // ONWARD & SONG OF SIBYLS

JUNE AT VERGE
Opening June 1, 6-8pm
Continuing to June 24


PUBLIC PROGRAMS ::
+ Artist and curator introduction, June 1 5:30pm-6pm
+ DOUBLE VISION June 10
+ Art crit and artist discussion, June 24, 1-3pm



Gallery 1 :: Onward, Harriet Body
Roomsheet :: HERE

Onward presents a series of paintings that document the artist’s creative body in action. Through a methodology of mark-making, experimentation with raw and hand-made materials and an investigation into ideas of growth and process, Onward examines how a painting can contain the artist’s body, and imbue a sense of the movement of the body through time.

 Stemming from an interest in Body Art, Onward looks to the idea that the artist’s body can be utilized as an artwork. With this in mind, Onward, seeks to establish the painting as a record of the artist’s body in motion.

Through the use of hand-made and raw materials – ‘performative materials’ that are evocative of life, action, or nature – Onward places the artist’s body into all aspects of the resulting artwork. The body that pulverized rocks, stones, shells and sea urchin spines to create pigment; the body that beat plant fibres into pulp to create paper; the body that burned and wet and dropped raw egg yolk onto paper. All this to create a painting that serves as documentation of a body that pulverises, beats, burns and wets.

Onward is an exhibition of process; the six paintings are to be read as one preluding the next. They are titled after the stages of growth of a tree, a decision alluding to both the artist’s concept of growth and the use of organic materials: Embryo, Seed, Seedling, Sapling, Tree, and – finally – Snag (a standing dead tree).

This work was created during a Summer Studio Residency at Penrith Regional Gallery (2016/17) and a Studio Tenancy at Parramatta Artist Studios (2017).

 


Gallery 2 :: Song of Sibyls, film by Marlaina Read, music by Katelyn Clarke
Roomsheet :: HERE

Song of Sibyls is a collaborative and experimental sound and video adaptation of the Gregorian chant El Cant de la Sibilla, about a prophetess and the apocalypse. El Cant de la Sibilla originates from ancient Grecian myths of the Sibyls, female oracles who took divine inspiration and prophesied at holy sites. It appeared in European Christian spiritual traditions in the 10th century, due to the similarity in the story to the biblical concept of the final judgment. The music has many variations, incorporating traditions of Gregorian chant, troubadour poetry, and Catalan ritual.

Song of Sibyls comprises two intertwined parts—a three-channel video installation elucidates the lyrical meaning of the song through three aspects—landscape, buildings and people. Presented in long shots, the imagery explores the climate, landscape, physicality and aesthetics of a ‘hypothetical future’, calling back to the metaphysical poetic fiction and ritualistic polyphonic styles of the chant— forests at twilight thrive silently; abandoned and empty buildings stand, no longer required by people; a group of women perform ‘survival’ tasks in suburban surrounds—moving camp, making a fire, collecting water, cooking bread, foraging.

This is accompanied by a haunting, improvised soundscape of the organetto—a small portative organ of medieval design—mixed with electronic sounds. The organetto has bellows that are controlled by hand, allowing the instrument to take ‘breaths’. The tuning of the pipes can be manipulated, creating micro tunings and heavy beating sounds that can be both heard and felt. Through this process the lyrics of the chant are ‘played’ rather than sung. The prophetess is given ‘voice’ through altered pitch and temperament of the instrument and is reminiscent of ships horns.

The work creates a physically immersive experience that speculates on a world marked by solitude, transition and reflection, overturning the annihilation and sorrow foretold in the chant. Liminal aspects of the chant (mythology, folklore, oral traditions) are made habitable through an experiential environment, inviting contemplation on how spirituality and humanity intersect through both presence and absence. In reference to the song’s mythical origins we place women at the centre of this world.
The work is accompanied by a small artists book.

 

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