Eloise Kirk was awarded Shotgun 8. Through the use of erasure, fragmentation and collage Kirk constructed a sequence of symbolic arrangements. The artist’s work is explicitly elemental, offering an aesthetic response to the interval between beauty and disaster, straddling the periphery of the romantic and the surreal. Shotgun 8: Eloise Kirk, dark maria was presented in the CAT Gallery from 28 September - 27 October, 2019. Commissioned texts by Daine Singer and Lucy Bleach accompanied the exhibition.
In the 18th century Edmund Burke theorised the sublime as separate to beauty, as an emotional and intellectual response to terror producing “the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling”. This was to be found in landscapes of great magnitude and vastness that are both fear and awe-inspiring. Burke also described experiences that would remind the individual of our smallness and irrelevance in beneficial ways, to connect us to something greater than ourselves. This theory carried into the arts, and particularly landscape painting of the 19th century.
Eloise Kirk works predominantly with collage and poured resins, creating works about suspension, erasure and fragmentation. Often these works contain a central rock or geological form, severed from its context and suspended in resin. With dark maria at Contemporary Art Tasmania, Kirk has expanded the scale, concerns and materiality of her work. The resulting exhibition comprises ‘paintings’ (made from collages and poured pigmented resin), together with a series of monumental sculptures formed from pigmented plaster applied to ply supports. These are accompanied by three kinetic works, in which her paintings sit atop rocking motorised bases.
Daine Singer - excerpt
In high school our geology teacher would quote Heraclitis in ancient Greek: Φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ, and then translate for us in English: Nature loves to conceal Herself (or, Nature loves to hide). She would answer our questions with questions, which was slightly annoying but I respected the opacity of her stone-walling us, as it enabled her to become the lithic subject she taught.
So we found our agency to anticipate partial geomorphic signs, to think of geology not just as a tectonic cycle of forming and breaking, but as an arcane force that inherently sought to remain something of a mystery. Acquainting us with the secret subterranean realms that exceeded our vision, we came to know deep-focus earthquakes, subduction zones, brittle crusts and liquid earth. Land features that had formed through volcanic eruption, metamorphic folding and metastable states were now visible and compelled attention. She got us thinking about how their mesmerising forms conjured a feeling of the body, a feeling of the feminine, a feeling of the sublime, and how they might be as much located in the physical world around us, as within our own emerging psychological terrain.
Daine Singer - excerpt
Shotgun 7 was awarded to Grace Herbert with work developed during the program on display in the exhibition, Increase Productivity at the CAT Gallery from 16 March – 21 April, 2019. Linda Dement and Helen Hughes provided supporting texts.
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Linda Dement - excerpt
Grace Herbert’s exhibition Increase Productivity brings together two symbolic regimes of self-improvement: the first is that of contemporary corporate culture, represented by that most ubiquitous object of postfordism, the communal hot desk; and the second is that of the personal fitness and well-being industry, here represented by a Bod Pod – an air-tight, human-scaled, fibreglass chamber that, using the principle of air displacement, calculates the user’s body–fat ratio with extreme precision. Both the hot desk and the Bod Pod are installed within adjoining transparent but nevertheless walled-in mobile office spaces, each 3 x 3 metres wide, which the artist has constructed inside the gallery. They are lit with the same cool, flat light of fluros, which gives both objects and spaces a uniform palette. Yet where the communal hot desk connotes sociality, the Bod Pod (which, with the help of cyberfeminist artist Linda Dement, has been made over into an atmospheric meditation cubicle fitted out with a customised voice-over and pensive soundtrack) encourages deep, personal introspection. How, we are therefore compelled by to ask, are we to understand the hot desk and the Bod Pod’s relation to one another? Where the hot desk allows one to work on whatever, wherever, whenever, and thereby become a more competitive producer, the Bod Pod allows one to understand one’s body and its specific nutritional needs in order to reach peak physical (or in the case of this exhibition, peak emotional and psychological) fitness. Their combination in the gallery thus reads as a portrait of the shifting economies of productivity and efficiency under late capitalism, of the total bleed between work and leisure, one’s self and one’s job – with the mobile office operating at the level of the social, and the Bod Pod at the level of the individual.
Helen Hughes - excerpt
IMAGES: Grace Herbert, what are you waiting for?, 2019. Photos Remi Chauvin.
The 6th edition of Shotgun was awarded to Nadège Philippe-Janon and Robert O’Connor who undertook individually tailored programs to initiate industry access, stimulate critical engagement and facilitate the development of new work. The following essays are by each artist’s mentor - Nadège Philippe-Janon, Mock Sun by Helen Hughes and Robert O'Connor, Cartographer of the Peripheral Or The détournement of Rob O’Connor by Ashley Crawford.
Mock suns—or sun dogs—are a perceptual phenomenon caused by the combination of sunlight, ice crystals and their refraction at the vantage point of the viewer. They are a natural accident whereby the viewer sees the Earth’s sun multiplied in a horizontal band across the sky—with a mock sun flanking the actual sun at either side. With the sun now in triplicate, one’s regular environment all of a sudden appears otherworldly—like a planet orbited by multiple moons. Perhaps it is for this reason that science-fiction writer and art critic Mark von Schlegell titled his 2005 book Sundogz (part of his System Series), which is set somewhere in the future amongst the moons of Uranus. For von Schlegell knows that the one of the highest achievements of art and science fiction alike is to alter our perception of the world around us, and render its everyday truths a little wobbly.
Hobart-based artist Nadège Philippe-Janon’s work pivots around the exploration of both everyday and more mysterious natural phenomena, which she often seeks to approximate in experiments using projected light and scavenged items that she has stored in her studio. Past works have featured video-mapped projections that have simulated eclipses, the otherworldly glow of phosphorescent jellyfish, and networks of sunlight across rippled water. These immersive environments often feature an absorptive soundtrack and, coupled with moving light, choreograph viewers’ attention by directing it, and their bodies, around the exhibition space.
Helen Hughes - excerpt
IMAGES : Nadège Philippe-Janon from the exhibition Mock Sun, 2017. Photos Peter Angus Robinson and Lucy Parakhina.
Cartographer of the Peripheral
The détournement of Rob O’Connor
“What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?”
“About six inches to the mile,”
“Only six inches!” exclaimed Mein Herr. “We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country on the scale of a mile to the mile!”
– Lewis Carroll, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded.
Cartographer, archeologist, explorer, scavenger, sociologist and resurrectionist. Rob O’Connor is all of these things. His work, like the artist himself, exudes a restless energy and a palpable curiosity. He is fascinated by maps, even when they are composed of detritus, both found and formed by O’Connor himself. He notes that cities are full of unseen histories – sites of trauma, humour, accident, neglect – and he is driven to make these visible. That which many would deride as ‘rubbish’ are grist to O’Connor’s mill. One is reminded of William Gibson’s mantra in his novel Burning Chrome: “...the street finds its own uses for things.”
O’Connor takes to the street wherever he is, from Queens in NYC to Santiago to Melbourne. But in this body of work he takes to Hobart in all its claustrophobic and retroactive wonder. Hobart is besieged by isolation, a small city on an island-state, its denizens form even smaller social and cultural cliques with their own codes and linguistics. O’Connor, like an eccentric private detective in a strange neon-noir mystery, combs the streets seeking clues to some labyrinthine underworld revolving around Brisbane Street where he both lives and works. He is clearly convinced that part of the clue revolves around the Brisbane Hotel, the home of punk rock in Hobart and, as he says, a true time-warp/stuck-in-the-80s pub replete with sticky carpet and an array of potential health problems.
Ashley Crawford - excerpt
IMAGES : Robert O’Connor from the exhibition A rag or a rip, 2017. Photos Peter Angus Robinson and Jack Bett.
Shotgun 2014 marked five years of the project. It was a timely point to reflect on the evolution of the program. It was also the first time that six artists were invited to participate in the one edition: Ross Byers, Dean Chatwin, David Hawley, Jason James, Tom O’Hern and Nicola Smith. In 2014 there was no exhibition associated with Shotgun and resources were directed towards a ‘stepped-up’ industry access program, out of which the thought-provoking texts by Jasmin Stephens, Hannah Mathews and Quentin Sprague were generated.
Review Process | Process Review
Shotgun - with its connotations of assuming a stance, taking aim and hitting a target – now has a five-year history. As this year’s participating artists and mentors have met, a process of reckoning has begun that could ideally continue for years to come. The cumulative workings of its mix of introductions, broader discussions and exhibition activities has been the subject of many conversations.
I was keen to be involved because I felt that aspects of my experience in Western Australia and Southeast Asia might be pertinent to the Tasmanian scene. Tasmania, which is shaped by the intensity of its island and colonial character, is unlike the Indian Rim, yet artists situated in all these places are working in contexts that are less visible to the art world’s institutions and markets. In such situations, greater weight is given to notions of geography and locality when accounting for artists’ practices. This tendency is often capitalised on in order to marshall arguments for the arts but should also be strenuously interrogated. With less infrastructure, there is added incentive for artists to create their own Shotgun program.
Jasmin Stephens – excerpt
In for the long haul: the necessity for community amongst artists
There is a lot of expectation these days. In the arts it seems to be growing. There is an expectation that one will study, exhibit, get a grant, undertake a residency, be written about, one will sell. These are all points of achievement facilitated/structured by the dollar – mostly by government, sometimes patrons, often by the individual artist themselves. The quality of practice counts too, but too often it relies on how it is couched in an application, artist statement or press release.
The expectation of a career trajectory that encompasses these milestones seems to have become the norm, especially for younger artists. Once these achievements could be seen documented over a life-long practice, today they seem to be achieved at an accelerated rate that leaves me wondering what happens next. With so much emphasise placed on the ‘new’ and ‘emerging’ what are the realistic expectations for artists between this developmental period and the long stretch to ‘established’?
Hannah Mathews – excerpt
How to be current
I recently read that we have reached ‘peak Twitter’. This happened quietly one day; whomever or whatever is tasked with tracking these kinds of things noticed that what had until that moment been generally on the rise was now generally on the downturn. Regardless of the fact that the social publishing platform had collectively brought us closer to our celebrities and politicians, provided a means for the mundane to be shared and carried the urgency of events like the Arab Spring into the international consciousness, the number of tweets tipped, for the first time, back towards earth and began a slow downwards arc. As the article put it, ‘Twitter is entering its twilight.’ Perhaps in half a decade, likely sooner, the platform will be a thing of the past. (1)
This shouldn’t be surprising. After all, the primacy of one thing will always eventually give over to the primacy of another. But it does seem that the pattern that the interplay between currency and obsolescence sketches has become ever tighter and more intricate as things rise and fall in faster succession. Admittedly this patterning grants the surface of our world a more interesting texture, but it also makes it harder to access what lies beneath.
Quentin Sprague – excerpt
(1) Admittedly the numbers still astound. At the time of writing 466,594,678 tweets had been sent in the last 24 hours, increasing at a rate of roughly 7,000 per second.
IMAGES: Ross Byers, Mnemonics, 2014. Cardboard. Photo Dierdre Pearce | Dean Chatwin, Building Relations (series), 2014. Video production still. Photo courtesy of the artist | David Hawley, Turn, 2013. Vinyl on clear PVC. Photo John Bodin | Jason James, Galla Placidia, 2013. Light. Photo freandhannah.com | Tom O’Hern, The grrreat disappointment (detail), 2014. Acrylic on canvas. Photo courtesy of the artist | Nicola Smith. Antoine Bertrand as Rodger II, 2013. Watercolour on paper. Photo Jack Bett | Shotgun 2014 publication launch, silhouettes of Shotgun artists, CAT Gallery. Photos Pip Stafford.
Shotgun 2013 was awarded to Mary Scott with work produced during the program presented in the exhibition, Black Powder at the CAT Gallery from 19 – 24 November, 2013. In this edition of Shotgun two essays were commissioned: Slow burning but incendiary… by Jackie Dunn and Mary Scott: Black Powder by Jacqueline Millner.
Slow burning but incendiary…
Pain has an element of blank
It doesn’t explain everything, it doesn't explain nothing, it explains some things
Post-election 2013, waiting for our new government to be sworn in and I’m listening to Julia Gillard’s biographer call her subject defiant and fatalistic as she exhorted those in parliament to ‘take their best shot’ at her before a leadership ballot last year. ‘Defiance’ and ‘fatalism’: could there be a better twofold characterisation of the work of Mary Scott? Could there be a more important moment for us to think on the relevance of the feminist project to the lived experiences of Australian women?
Creator of intense dramas and claustrophobic domestic tableaux, Scott is the mistress of the anxious moment. Gender proscriptions and normative prohibitions; problematised erotics and sublimated traumas; the opaque complexity of emotions: these are her subjects, realised in works that describe direct embodied protests.
Scott’s is an expanded autobiographical practice that uses the self not solipsistically, but intuitively so as to reaffirm the centrality of the body – specifically but not exclusively, the female body – to political and social discourses. In her latest investigation, Black Powder, Scott brings a new tone: a note of urgency. Black powder: fuelled by charcoal, highly combustible but frustratingly slow-burning.
Jackie Dunn - excerpt
Mary Scott: Black Powder
In this ambitious installation, Mary Scott has experimented her way to an unsettling new take on some familiar themes around the body and its relationship to power. These intensely worked surfaces — marked and rubbed and erased — bear the traces of Scott’s own body over time, as she sifts through the cultural image bank and reinvests it with material presence. Significantly, Scott has focused her inquiry on the human face and gesture. That conceptual focus is complemented by her formal decisions that create a powerful dialogue between figure and frame, darkness and light: the faces appear and disappear, tightly bounded at one moment, exceeding their confines at another. Even when the images overflow the edges of the paper, they maintain their formal and, by extension, their psychological tension. Constrained to the point of contortion, it is in the very exertion of self-control that the faces threaten to disintegrate. Yet in the process of disintegration there potentially emerges another face — another surface, another interface between world and subject, another ground for encounter as symbolized by the dense charcoal wall Scott has placed at the installation’s entrance.
Jacqueline Millner - excerpt
IMAGES: Mary Scott, Black Powder, installation 2013. Charcoal and pastel on paper and on walls. Photos Peter Angus Robinson
Lucienne Rickard and Joel Crosswell were awarded Shotgun 2012. Rickard's obsessive and physically demanding drawings were presented in the CAT Gallery (15 September – 7 October, 2012) alongside Croswell’s totemic sculptures that incorporate straw, wood, cloth, modeling clay, resins and found objects. In her essay Between Two Deaths, Vikki McInnes provides insights into the work that each artist developed during the Shotgun program.
Between Two Deaths (1)
The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places. (2)
Ernest Hemingway wrote these words as Europe was recovering from the horror and mass brutality of the First World War, and this historical watershed inspired his attempt to find meaning – and even ennoblement – in death. A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway’s first bestseller, presents humanity’s plight through an indifferent (or, more often, downright hostile) world, and human life is depicted as a perpetual struggle that ends only in death. However, this struggle also represents an interval through which the manner in which one faces the crisis and endures the pain inflicted by the uncaring universe is ultimately of great importance. Although they might not always understand the complex world they inhabit, nor the particular dilemmas of modern life, Hemingway’s protagonists invariably find some solace in beauty and order when it does appear, thus leading lives of existential authenticity.
Indeed, existentialism was the key philosophical doctrine that influenced Hemingway’s writing, and significant existential concepts (such as authenticity and dread) are manifest throughout the work of Lucienne Rickard and Joel Crosswell in this third iteration of Shotgun.
Vikki McInnes - excerpt
(1) The title of this text is borrowed from an exhibition of the same name, curated by Ellen Blumenstein and Felix Ensslin presented at the ZKM (Centre for Art and Media), Karlsruhe, Germany in 2007. Between Two Deaths reflected on the curators’ observation of a social and cultural trend toward ‘melancholic retrospection’ and posited a remarkably open-ended proposition that encompassed history, allegory, sexuality and psychoanalysis. My first studio visits with Joel and Lucienne took place immediately following the tragic death of a close friend of the artists and, while much remained unsaid, our meetings were conducted under its dark cloud. This first encounter with the artists and their work, and our discussions – which swirled inevitably around Port Arthur, skeletons (both real and metaphoric), the corrida, MONA’s iconic themes of sex and death – left me reeling with conflicted imaginings around annihilation and transcendence. I returned to Melbourne to the sad news that a colleague had lost a family member in similarly dreadful circumstances, and this title took on an obvious literal significance.
(2) Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, 1929.
IMAGES: Lucienne Rickard, I thought I had paid for everything, suite of work, install documentation 2012 | Joel Crosswell, Carnival of Souls, suite of work, install documentation 2012. Photos Peter Angus Robinson
Over an 8 month period the Shotgun 2011 artists Amanda Davies and Andrew Harper participated in an intensive program of industry access and critical engagement. The program culminated in exhibitions in the CAT gallery: Amanda Davies Purge and Andrew Harper Hieronymus, both presented from 29 October - 27 November 2011. Sarah Miller developed an insightful essay on each artists work.
Signalling through the Flames (1) :
The art of Amanda Davies and Andrew Harper
In the age of rationalization, of the ideal of calculation and of generalized rationality of the market, it falls to the [artists] to deal with the extremes of affect by means of an aesthetics of risk, extremes which always also contain the possibility of offending by breaking taboos (Lehmann 2006: 187).
In the archives of the small provincial city of Hobart in Tasmania lies an account of an astonishing historic occurrence (2). Two artists – a woman and a man – each barely known to the other, are invited to participate in Shotgun, an early career artist exhibition and professional development opportunity.
At first glance, it seems these artists have little in common. Amanda Davis is a painter living in a rural idyll on the Tasman Peninsula, while Andrew Harper is a performance artist and experimental filmmaker, inhabiting an inner city suburb of Hobart. They create work that is clearly differentiated: painting and performance, object and action, image and spoken word, and yet despite these obvious differences, what becomes increasingly evident are the affinities between these artists and their distinct and distinctive bodies of work.
These may be described in terms of visceral and emotional intensity, art-making as a profoundly embodied experience, an interest in a religious, or perhaps less contentiously, a spiritual condition of heightened awareness, a DIY aesthetic, and a strong sense of theatricality, which following Artaud, may be characterised as, ‘…that momentary pointlessness which drives them to useless acts without immediate profit’ (1977, p.15). This may be understood as a kind of excess, referencing an ethical extreme, a moral edge that demands our attention, speaking to the means by which pleasure and pain, joy and despair, humour and disgust are drawn or etched into the surface of life and art.
The externalisation of inner landscapes, an unsettling of the viewer’s perception, the shout of rage, tension - and its physical expression or evocation - the body as a site of meaning. I did not anticipate these artists in proximity.
Sarah Miller - excerpt
(1) The title is borrowed from Antonin Artaud (1958) in ‘The Theater and Culture’, the preface to The Theater and its Double as quoted in Lehmann, H T (2006), and Fuchs E (1996).
(2) With apologies to Antonin Artaud, (1977) ‘Theatre and the Plague’.
IMAGES: Amanda Davies, from the series Purge, 2011. Photos courtesy of the artist | Andrew Harper, Hieronymus, 2011. Video stills.
Shotgun 2010 was the first edition of the project. Three early-career artists were selected for the program that involved commissioned texts on each artists practice - Scot Cotterell by Craig Judd, Sara Maher Breathing Infinity by Biljana Jancic and Cath Robinson by Seán Kelly.
We are all acted upon by the media. Our bodies are constantly assaulted by photographic imagery. We learn to love and indeed desire the chaotic intersections of High and Low culture forms. An extraordinary statistic is that on May 18 2010 some 24 hours per minute of video material was uploaded onto the website You Tube. This piece of minor arcana is a perfect way to illustrate the almost pathological obsession to document every aspect of contemporary life. It also demands questions about who is the audience for this material and how do they make sense of this vast mountain of unmediated visual data. Can we make sense? Information overload is de rigueur this century. In this virtual world there is no such thing as a unitary engagement, everything is polyvalent mutable. Network theory, spurred by the growth of the World Wide Web is now the Queen of Science, unlocking new knowledge across an array of disciplines. Miniaturization while intriguing continues to distance us from new technologies. This is a small glimpse of the rich vein of material, the terrain that Scot Cotterell mines.
Craig Judd - excerpt
IMAGES: Scot Cotterell, 20 Deaths that are(nt) mine, install documentation 2010. Photos Jan Dallas and Chris Wilson
Sara Maher Breathing Infinity
Our consciousness sets us the task of contemplating the immensity both around and inside ourselves. Sara Maher collapses these disparate spaces within her practice, both the agoraphobia induced by the vastness of uninhibited, ancient landscapes as well as the claustrophobia incurred by the build up of memories, emotions and ideas within. These dual spaces come to coexist in her art where they ultimately serve as shadows of her experiences. Maher does not seek to represent the sources of anxieties but rather filters them through one another in order to produce a complex set of relations between the self and the world which the French phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard termed ‘intimate immensity’. (1)
There are incalculable ways to attempt to locate our consciousness within the vastness of experience. One approach, the one most commonly taken, is via processes that aim to demystify the infinity of these spaces by documenting, measuring and framing. Another is to challenge oneself to dwell in immensity and revel in the unbounded possibility it offers the dreamer. Maher confronts immensity through her practice both by seeking out the affect of mysterious, remote places in which she undertakes residency programs and through confronting her inner world within the shelter of her studio/ house/ cave.
Biljana Jancic - excerpt
(1) Gaston Bachelard (Trans. by Maria Jolas), Poetics of Space, Beacon Press, Boston, Massachusettes, 1994, p183-210
IMAGES: Sara Maher, Whiteout (Lake St Clair), 2010, Infrasound (Lake St Clair), 2010 and exhibition install views. Photos Peter Angus Robinson.
A significant amount of Cath Robinson's work involves the interaction between the development and the delivery of (articulated) thoughts - in fact it focuses specifically on the ‘spaces’ between verbal expressions and maps the traces of sound which glue spoken thoughts together. The sounds made when pausing to generate or refine a thought prior to expression are in themselves expressive. She denotes this as 'Um' - a common sound expression indicating that thinking is in process, (in Ireland this sound is 'Em').
A prolonged exposure to Robinson’s work heightens awareness of the significance of the unconscious cues which we constantly project and receive in conversation, akin in some ways to the enormous significance of body language, both of which are sent and responded to at the instinctual level, but are no less significant for that.
Seán Kelly - excerpt
IMAGES: Cath Robinson, Thought Noise Resonator, 2010. Photos Peter Angus Robinson.