Curator: Beth Jackson
Artists: James Barth, Clark Beaumont, Katina Davidson, Dana Lawrie,
Julie-Anne Milinski, Clare Poppi, Merri Randell, Leena Riethmuller,
Camille Serisier, Lynden Stone, Shayna Wells
27 April to 14 May 2016, Metro Arts, BNE
30 July to 27 August 2016, The Cross Art Projects, SYD
30 July to 7 August 2016, Alaska Projects, SYD
Exhibition booklet: The Dirty Word
crosseXions is about the power of intimacy. The project puts paid to the Lie of internal
creativity and the myth of the ultra-individual heroic male genius. Art springs not from the
space within, but from the space between—the ebb and flow of interactions, the mess and
melange of scattered partial objects and subjects, the flux of the interpersonal. This
intimacy, forged through our co-operative investment, is far far away from violence, and
from experiences of loss and trauma, alienation and abuse, poison and exploitation that the
artists and their artworks reflect upon and recover from.
Shayna Wells has been visiting Lake Ainsworth for many years as a personal retreat for the
calming effects that places of pristine natural beauty offer. Taking her friends to this place
and photographing them in the lake’s tea tree-stained waters has generated a series of
primordial portraits where the lake may be seen to represent a site of interdependence—
the source of fresh water from which all creatures must drink, predators and prey alike, and
the mirror surface of self-perception where the dialogue of self and other is played out and
identity unfolds. The moment of intense encounter persists, repeated and reflected in the
cyanotype prints washed in lake waters and dried in the sun as passages of light and time,
in drawings built up and scored into, in video and performance.
Dana Lawrie also juxtaposes the body within a relational field, where a dissected cadaverous
portrait of her body parts is shrouded with a veil of flora painted in botanical inks that
readily fade. Hovering over a world of objects or a design universe is a sea of sensuality—
‘real’ objects are withdrawn from access. The artist’s body or her identity, cannot be
appropriated completely—her foot is not her nor her body her, her hands are not her, her
gaze is not her, her gestures are not her—and the carving up is a reductivist logic that
infinitely approaches but never reaches it subject (the self-portrait).
There is a deepening and disruptive rift between the causality of human productions and the
ecologies of Nature. James Barth’s exercises in self-portraiture are phantasmic introjections.
The virtual realm offers denaturalising pathways to design and determine other appearances
where essentialist notions of gender and sexuality dissolve into a reality founded in
contradiction. The partial wounded subject is weak, offering co-existence with as many
other relational partial objects as possible.
Merri Randell affects a similar phantasm within the natural environment of subtropical
rainforest. Randell generates objects or zones within the forest with virtual behaviours -
breathing, pulsing, squirting or bulging – on small video feedback loops within larger static
image projections. These ‘things’ have a loop form, like a Möbius strip - a non-orientable
surface without inside or outside, center or edge, up and down, yet a very specific shape. In
this reality there is no dotted line saying ‘Cut Here’ – subdividing the landscape, butchering
reality, becomes impossible.
In late capitalist culture, saturated in spam and scam, there is a constant bombardment of
product advertisement for healing the disruptive rifts of a segmented, privatised and hyper
mediated reality. Lynden Stone’s Sacred Gaia Healing project gathers the detritus of spam
media like a Pacific Gyre, attempting to break down the impenetrable toxic waste upon
which the whole world is choking. Her highly entertaining efforts at regurgitation offer a
colonic cleansing for all media channeling.
Within and behind the outrageous fakery of Angelica Leight’s and Runceley Chaser’s dodgy
antics, there can be felt a joyful collaboration between the artist and her partner. The artist
collaboration Clark Beaumont expresses the dark side of the interpersonal. The two figures
floating next to one another in a pool of water, filmed from above, gradually drift away from
each other. Each body floats alone, as if unaware of the other. It is as though each individual
is trying to reach a de-sensitised state in order to de-stress—the premise and offer of
flotation therapy—blind to their own self-absorption. Caught in a feed-back loop of
alienation, intimacy is elusive, connection asymptotic.
Jewellery lays special claim to intimacy, worn against the body for often sentimental reasons.
Clare Poppi has ethically sourced raw material in order to make and remake a piece of
jewellery for selected participants. The participants describe a concept or context for the
work, and once made and handed over, are able to wear it for a few days only, before it is
returned and re-melted into the next piece. The artist physically creates and recycles, while
the participants emotionally create and recycle their life experience for symbolic value.
Leena Riethmuller has recorded the voices of participants describing the experience of a
positive feeling. Something so commonplace becoming precious and revealing the sometimes
tenuous hold we have on our emotional wellbeing. Rejecting object and image, the work’s
intimacy offers no outside position. Riethmuller declares the death of cynicism and exposes
the cynic as a hypocrite: she thinks that she is free of illusion, and in the very thinking of this,
she is deluded. There is only testimony in memory’s offer.
Julie-Anne Milinksi has created the obverse setting. As opposed to the ephemeral
experiences of a shifting and fissured emotional world, she forges objects from materials
that will obscenely outlast their makers. Products like PVC that continue to off-gas into our
private homes, have been remedied by the integration of plants as atmospheric cleaning
agents within elaborate sculpture-cum-furniture constructions. Everything ‘natural’, ‘human’,
and ‘synthetic’ is reduced to use value in designer chains of capitalist equivalence.
Katina Davidson’s family were forced, under The Act, to live on firstly Deebing Creek and
later Purga Aboriginal Missions. Her artwork is a memorial to the Deebing Creek site which
is currently proposed for commercial development, and to the Purga Mission site,
demonstrating a continuous relationship to country and place. The vital effort of cultural
and familial connection, violated and fragmented by the colonial project and capitalist
imperatives, remains the central mechanism not only for Aboriginal communities but for all
Camille Serisier’s work reflects on her recent personal experience of pregnancy. She draws
inspiration from the ancient statuettes of the Venus of Willendorf and a recent theory
speculating that the figurines may have been made by women to measure the progression of
their pregnancies. Her comical, surreal and naively theatrical work expresses both a
bountiful energy of fecundity and a morbid monstrosity of the female form which conceives,
grows and gives birth to another being. Within the confrontation of this experience is both
end game and origin of self and other, the ultimate ecology of human understanding.
Employing an eco-feminist ethics of care, the crosseXions project has been a deliberate
investment in process and relationship, in collaborations and peer review, participation and
interaction. The artwork outcomes are evidence of long and deep engagements and also the
means for forging interpersonal spaces of trust and sincere rapport, in an effort to make our
sector more sustainable.
Beth Jackson, curator.
Opening speaker Suhanya Raffel, Director m+ Museum, Hong Kong at The Cross Art
Projects, with curator Beth Jackson and artists. Saturday 30 July 2016 at 3pm. Performance
work by Shayna Wells at Alaska Projects, at 4pm.
Dates: 30 July to 27 August 2016, The Cross Art Projects; 30 July to 7 August, Alaska
Projects, Kings Cross Carpark (level 2)
Project made possible with the support of Arts Queensland, NAVA, MAAP, Metro Arts, Cross Art Projects and Alaska