Personal Best

Opening November 8, 6pm-8pm
Personal Best
Continuing to December 15


+ November 8, 6–8pm, opening of Personal Best
+ November 21, from 6:30pm, The Failure Debate
+ November 28, from 6pm, Talkin’ About Talkin’ About Art presented by Runway Magazine
+ December 15, 1–3pm, Art Crit

Personal Best
110%, Amber Boardman, JD Reforma, Kate Mitchell, Min Wong, Sara Morawetz, & Will French

Originally, a personal best was a sporting term, describing the greatest achievement one had ever had. Now it could be argued that achieving one’s personal best is an underlying motivation for every action we take. This exhibition asks the question—what is it about the human condition that makes us push ourselves to be faster, higher and stronger and how does ‘wellness’ fit into this dialogue? While the pressure to be successful in the era of Capitalism isn’t new, the exhibition looks at how we view achievement today, when now more than ever the cult of the winner is revered.

Personal Best has been curated by the Verge team of Tesha Malott, Rebekah Raymond and Helen Waller, and features artists 110%, Amber Boardman, JD Reforma, Kate Mitchell, Min Wong, Sara Morawetz, & Will French who will present works illustrating different perspectives on success, failure and the absurdity of seeking impossible perfection.

Artist bios

110% is the collaborative practice of Kieran Bryant, Beth Dillon and Lachlan Herd. They are three emerging artists who create site-responsive works of live performance, video, installation and sculpture. Their collective is currently based between Australia and Switzerland.

Their collaboration stems from the intimacy and playfulness of friendship, and continues to grow through conversation, humour, and mutual care. Their practice has developed from a shared interest in amateur choreographies of the body in space; the aesthetics of uniformed labour; and modes of hosting and participation in performance. Previous works have investigated competitive cultures of positive thinking; explored the relationship between art appreciation and the pursuit of leisure; tested the dynamics of artist-audience relationships; and considered the impact of long- distance separation on collaborative practice and motivation. 110% often stage interventions that play with the presentation of performance in festival, fair and gallery contexts. These interventions may take the form of an interruption, an invitation, an oasis, a sweaty mess.

Amber Boardman‘s paintings explore transformations of the body. Through the influence of cartoons, literature, and internet culture these works describe ways the body is altered through makeup, hair dye and spray tans—elements of paint in everyday life.

Boardman has exhibited her paintings and animation throughout the US, Australia and internationally including BAM’s Next Wave Festival in NYC, and the 2018 Archibald and Geelong Prizes. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including JUXTAPOZ Magazine. She has been the recipient of multiple awards, notably, Most Provocative Award (Atlanta Biennial), the Australian Post-Graduate Award (University of New South Wales) and the Joan Sutherland Fund Visual Arts Grant. She holds an MFA in Fine Art from the School of Visual Arts and a BFA in Studio Art from Georgia State University. Boardman is currently a PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Her works are held in numerous private and public collections including the High Museum of Art, The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, the University of Kentucky Art Museum, the City of Sydney, and Artbank Australia. She has worked commercially as an animator for Cartoon Network’s [adult swim], Comedy Central and Google.

Born in 1981 in Portland Maine, Boardman maintains close ties in New York, New England, Atlanta, and Sydney Australia. Boardman is a founding member of shared studio/exhibition spaces in Brooklyn and Sydney. Her work is represented by Sandler Hudson Gallery in Atlanta.

JD Reforma is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores diverse themes including branding and status anxiety, popular culture and the cult of celebrity, as well as political dynasticism and cultural imperialism. He has exhibited extensively throughout NSW, including Artspace, Firstdraft, MOP Projects, Alaska Projects, Kudos Gallery, 55 Sydenham Rd, Breezeblock, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery; as well as Success, Fremantle, Western Australia and Fake Estate, Brisbane. Projects include Coconut Republic, Firstdraft, which was awarded the Contemporary Prize at the 2017 Fisher’s Ghost Art Award; Halò, with Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, curated by Katrina Cashman, Bayanihan Philippine Art Project, Mosman Art Gallery; 48HR Incident, 2015, curated by Aaron Seeto, Pedro De Almeida and Toby Chapman, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney; and En-suite, curated by David Attwood, Island Island, Melbourne.

Most recently, he participated in the 2018 4A Beijing Studio Program; upcoming projects include the 2018 NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship, Artspace, and The TV Show, curated by Daniel Mudie Cunningham, Wollongong Art Gallery.

Kate Mitchell completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in 2006 and a Masters of Fine Arts in 2008, both at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales in Sydney. Consistently imbued with humour, Mitchell’s practice draws attention to the perseverance required to maintain an artistic practice, as well as the repetitious monotony of life, which she transforms through sharp and witty interventions. Working in performance, video and photography, the artist documents and questions everyday life and social behaviour, often engaging community participants. As the main protagonist of her work, Mitchell physically enacts various prompts related to art history, critical discourse and her own practice, as if playing a game of charades in a slumberous state.

Her work is included in leading public and private collections across Australia including: Kadist Foundation, Paris and San Francisco; Michael Buxton Collection, Melbourne; and Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne.

Min Wong is an Adelaide-based sculpture and installation artist who investigates reconstructed counter culture accoutrements from the 1960’s and 1970’s spiritual movements as a simulacrum for utopian concerns. Her installations aim to identify new systems of interrelation with the present and appropriation of self-help strategies within the critique of contemporary life. Wong attempts to reinstate the potency of objects of ‘commodified self-awareness’, and takes an ironic yet sincere view of the contemporary dilemma of spirituality. Her sculptures and installations consider the ‘kitsch mystical experience’ and become an interplay between visionary imagination and cultural invention.

Wong has participated in international residencies in Spain, China and Los Angeles and exhibited recently at Hugo Michelle Gallery, Firstdraft, Sydney, Mars Gallery, Melbourne, Fontanelle Gallery, Brand Library and Art Centre, Los Angeles and Hatched, PICA.

Sara Morawetz is an interdisciplinary artist whose work explores the processes that underpin scientific action, examining how these concepts can be leveraged through artistic inquiry. Interested in the ‘Scientific Method’ and its philosophical implications, her work is devised to test and expose the internal processes of methodological labour. Her practice examines how concepts of observation, experimentation, method and standardisation operate as both scientific and cultural apparatus, exploring the dichotomies inherent in these dual perspectives.

Sara is a PhD candidate at Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney and an Australian Postgraduate Award recipient. Her recent projects have incorporated diverse collaborations between the arts and sciences, including partnerships with scientists from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Research Centre, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Her work has been exhibited throughout Australia and internationally, including exhibitions at the Museé des Arts et Métiers, the Australian Consulate-General New York and RAPID PULSE International Performing Arts Festival (Chicago, USA). She was 2016 winner of ‘the churchie’ National Emerging Art Prize, a finalist of the 2017 Aesthetica Art Prize and a recipient of the Moya Dyring Studio Scholarship (AGNSW). She was also awarded the Vida Lahey Memorial Travelling Scholarship (QAGOMA Foundation) and funding from the Australian Council for the Arts for her recent work étalon, a 112-day 2,100km walk across France and Spain.

Sara is 2018 Sirovich Family Resident at the Pratt Institute (Brooklyn, New York) and will be the 2019 Artist-in-Residence at the Museé des Arts et Métiers (Paris, France).

Will French is an Australian artist working in Sydney’s Inner West. His work bounces between ephemera, objects, images and text, favoring lines of enquiry over any particular medium. Within these varied expressions, familiar conceptual traits include visual appropriation, wry humor, universal questions and internal dialogue, with a strong lean towards the poetic.

French’s work exhibits sensitivity to objects and ideas, using visual wordplay to subtlety flip or twist a reading. The viewer is prompted to delve beyond surface impressions to reveal the work’s nuances or truths. These works ultimately seek resonance, through personal encounters, to openly engage with grand themes such as loss, love, meaning, mortality, time and happiness. Handled with lightness and wit, French encourages us to take a step back at times, and a step forward at others, to help (in Nauman-esqe fashion) reveal some type of ‘mystic truth’.

An accomplished fabricator and technician, the seeming simplicity of French’s works often belies the technical complexity of their production. Objects often conceal the processes undertaken to mimic or construct them to near perfection. Distilling the work to its essentials, in form and function, French seeks to clarify an idea, eliciting resonance through empathy. His painstaking approach to process gives new, physical irony to the idea of a very labored joke.

Will French completed a Masters in Visual Arts at the University of Sydney in 2005. He has exhibited in artist run spaces, commercial galleries and major institutions across Australia. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, including COFA Prize recipient of the Paddington Art Prize, Australia Council New Work Grants, Maddocks Emerging Artist Prize, Emerging Recipient of the SCEGS Redlands Wespac Art Prize and the 2008 Recipient of Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Artists Travel Scholarship. He has worked for periods in mentorship with Simon Starling and undertaken residencies in Paris, Berlin, Sweden, Tokyo and New York, Mexico City and Sydney. He is currently completing a series of commissions in Sydney and teaching at the University of Wollongong. He is also the founder and Director of Good |Grief, an artist residency and exhibition space which opened in February 2017.