Intimacy, Identity is part of a program of contemporary Australian and international video art presented in five chapters.
Chiharu Shiota, Bathroom, 1999, single-channel video documentation of a performance, 3:4, black and white, sound, 5 min 9 sec
In Bathroom, Shiota sits in a bathtub and pours ink-like mud over her head and body. “I’ll never wash off the memories that are absorbed into my skin,” the artist said of the performance, her intention being to ‘merge with the earth’ in a kind of ritualistic homecoming. Shiota has adopted the philosophy of butoh (literally ‘earth dance’ or ‘mud dance’), an avant-garde Japanese form of theatre developed in the twentieth-century, in which primitive expression is a central tenet.
Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano, When Mountains Move, 2018, three-channel High Definition digital video, 16:9, black and white, colour, stereo sound, 7 min 21 sec
Created during their 2018 residency at the Amori Contemporary Art Centre in Yamazaki, this video work draws inspiration from the 1911 poem by Yosano Akiko entitled The Day the Mountains Move. Published in the inaugural issue of Japan’s first all-women literary magazine Seito (Blue Stocking), Yosano’s rousing words became a rallying call for Japan’s nascent feminist movement, calling on all the sleeping women to awaken, like a mountain transformed into a volcano.
Oliver Beer, Composition for Mouths (Songs my mother taught me) I, 2018, single-channel video, sound, 4 min 10 sec
Composition for Mouths (Songs My Mother Taught Me) I is a filmed vocal performance. In pairs, four singers use a new, physical vocalisation technique. Locking their lips, each pair forms a single, collaborative vocal cavity, breathing and reverberating together. “I asked them to find each other’s resonant frequencies, like I’d done with architecture,” says Beer. As two voices converge, the singers produce the phenomenon of ‘beating’, a “violent, interesting and almost percussive” throbbing effect, caused by the friction of adjacent frequencies. Composition is both a two-headed instrument and a radically intimate duet.
Angelica Mesiti, Rapture (silent anthem), 2009, single-channel High Definition video, 16:9, colour, silent 10 minutes 10 seconds
In Rapture (silent anthem), the artist has pointed her camera into a crowd of youths enthralled by a performance that is out of view. The work is silent. This ambiguity eventually gives way to an appreciation of the slowed-down action that unfolds. The decision to focus on facial expressions creates a directness with the viewer and imparts a spiritual quality. This is further enhanced by the glowing colours of wet skin, and by the shifting gestures of the crowd as they collectively express the intense emotion of idolisation.
Shaun Gladwell, The Sunlight School, 2015, single-channel High Definition video, 16:9, colour, silent, 7 min 32 sec
This video originally featured in The Lacrima Chair, a commission by the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in 2015. As with other components of this project, The Sunlight School makes obvious and abstruse references to flight, distance, cultural translation and the notion of function in art. This particular video was inspired by the pioneering Australian aviator Nancy Bird-Walton, a pioneering aviatrix and founder and patron of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association.
Co-curated by Kelli Alred and Anna Schwartz Gallery.
Presented in partnership with Anna Schwartz Gallery.