Self, other and the invisible
Self, other and the invisible is part of a program of contemporary Australian and international video art presented in five chapters.
Lida Abdul, What We Saw Upon Awakening, 2006, 16mm film transferred to digital video 16:9, colour, sound, 6 minutes 50 seconds
In What We Saw Upon Awakening, Lida Abdul has created a surreal vision of the de-construction of a ruin. Remarkable for its compositional beauty and restraint, this film is a meditation on the aftermath of war, exposing the tangled after shocks of destruction, acceptance and renewal. In six minutes of classically framed and beautifully conceived cinematic shots, we watch as a group of men pull in a united effort on long white ropes, straining under this Herculean task. Slowly we grow aware that the ropes are tied to the stone walls of an actual house destroyed by a recent bombing in Kabul, which the men are striving to pull down. At first their efforts seem puny and ineffectual against impossible odds; their actions become a metaphor of all survivors’ attempt to deal with the devastation of war. Later the film ends with a burial ritual, symbolising closure and a moment of communal healing when the ruins are finally put to rest so that life can begin anew.
Oliver Beer, Composition for Mouths (Songs my mother taught me) II, 2018, single-channel video, sound, 4 min 5 sec
Composition for Mouths (Songs My Mother Taught Me) 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.
Candice Breitz, Profile, 2017, three single-channel videos, colour, sound (looped), 2 minutes 19 seconds
In Profile, Breitz poses incisive questions about what it means for a white artist to represent South Africa, a nation with a highly fraught history of race and representation. The collective appearance of ten prominent South African artists in place of Breitz herself subverts the genre of self-portraiture and its claim on authenticity. Profile continues Breitz’s critical interrogation of the possibility of conveying identity through an inherently fictitious medium.
Lauren Brincat, Walk the Line, 2016, single-channel High Definition video, 16:9, colour, sound, 5 minutes, 16 seconds
Walk the Line was filmed at Cape Leeuwin on the south-western tip of mainland Australia, considered locally to be the point where the Indian and Southern oceans meet. Brincat invokes this speculative and spectral contact zone as a metaphor for the arbitrary lines that overwrite the world ocean, from meridians and parallels to the International Date Line and, in particular, judicial and territorial boundaries. Brincat’s performance – which culminates with her being subsumed into the ocean's depths – is conducted in solitude and is hauntingly finite. Colloquially, to 'walk the line' means to abide by a moral code. At a time when the ocean has become a desperate means of passage to asylum and an ideological battleground, the work quietly foregrounds what is at stake in the permeability of abstract borders.
Co-curated by Kelli Alred and Anna Schwartz Gallery.
Presented in partnership with Anna Schwartz Gallery