Trilogies - Visual Arts Review
by M.A.F
Reviewed on Tue, 17/02/2015 - 12:35pm
M.A.F Total Reviews: 3
 
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Curated by Will Foster


Trilogies


Trilogies presents three major bodies of work produced over the past decade by internationally acclaimed artists Erik Bünger (Swedish born, Berlin-based), duo Soda Jerk (Sydney born, New York-based) and Melbourne-based Willoh S. Weiland of APHIDS. The three trilogies incorporate video installations, live performances, audio and objects to explore history. The collective works burrow deep into a fascinatingly tangled web of ideas, perceptions, suggestions and theories around science fact and fiction, inner and outer space, technology, time and the human spirit.

The Lecture performances The Girl Who Never Was (Erik Bünger) and The Carousel (Soda_Jerk) were presented on the evening of Saturday January the 24th. Equipped with glass of sparkles I settled in amongst quite a large audience, not quite knowing what to expect ?? I had not yet seen the exhibition.

The Carousel (2011), first in line, was presented by Soda_Jerk, a two-person art collective working with sampled material. Perched on the stage in front of computers the pair led the audience through an exploration or rather reconstruction of histories using sampled materials, creating counter-mythologies. The Carousel begins with referencing the film Logan??s Run, which depicts a dystopian future in which overpopulation is prevented by the expedient of killing everyone who reaches the age of thirty. They are led to believe in reincarnation, and so face death with the possibility of return. Soda_Jerk link this notion of the Carousel to a zoetrope, a pre-film animation device that produces the illusion of motion by displaying a sequence of drawings or photographs. This, essentially, is what cinema is ?? flowing, static frames. By way of pictures in motion, cinema brings things back to life. Through a series of film stars such as Brandon Lee in The Crow, pop singer Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned, Heather O??Rourke in Poltergeist as well as others who suffered a tragic death before completing their final film, the notion of cinematic resurrection is a thread that runs throughout the performance. It is an eerie account of suspicious deaths and body doubles ?? the show must go on.

On attending the exhibition the following week, I discovered the installations by Soda_Jerk, which are part of a series entitled Dark Matter. The Time that Remains(2012), a 2-channel video installation, plays out a gothic melodrama featuring Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. The two women, confined to their own screen space, play beautifully and succinctly off each other in an ongoing cycle. As one falls into a deep sleep the other awakes to a nightmarish struggle with time and aging, seemingly terrified by the notion of inevitable expiration.

The Dark Matter series is concerned with experiences of time, personal or historical, and how they are arbitrated by screen technologies. Orchestrated encounters at various stages of aging of deceased screen stars researches what the artists describe as ??cultural theories of hauntology.?? In the second work in the series, entitled After the Rainbow, Judy Garland appears as the fresh-faced and hopeful Dorothy in the twister scene from the film The Wizard of Oz (1939). When the house touches the ground Garland opens the door only to encounter her embittered older self. The imagery of the distressed younger Garland looking on as her aged counterpart croons the haunting lyrics is powerful:

The night is bitter

The stars have lost their glitter

The winds grow colder

Suddenly you??re older

The second evening lecture performance by Eric Bünger entitled The Girl Who Never Was (2013) is the third and final part in Bünger??s trilogy, ??Tablets of Flesh,?? which began with A Lecture on Schizophonia followed by The Third Man. Both the lecture along with the video installation itself of The Girl Who Never Was uses two voices as coordinates, beginning with the voice of a little girl that was inscribed 148 years ago. In 2008 the inscription was recovered by an American researcher, and now exists as the first recording of the human voice. It is the French lullaby ??Au Clair de la Lune??. One year later another researcher slowed the inscription down, and in doing so proved it to be the voice of a full-grown man ?? the original inscriber. Bünger then weaves in the voice of the artificial intelligence HAL in Stanley Kubrick??s 2001 A Space Odyssey. In the French version the lullaby, again, is ??Au Clair de la Lune??. Bünger explains that as HAL dies ??his voice performs precisely the same glissando as the voice of the non-existent girl: a high-strung, insistent voice is gradually slowed down into a deep, sleepy and harmless one.? He considers that the work ??explores how a particular insistency, pertaining to the voice alone, makes it the vehicle for certain kinds of inexistencies, as they make their way into our world.? The idea is that the spirit of the voice of the little girl who never existed was released into the air, rendering it never to be forgotten. The performance was an exact rendition of the actual digital installation, and although Bünger was articulate and charismatic in his presentation, it felt slightly disappointing in retrospect that the performance was not an expansion on the works in the exhibition.

Trilogies is ambitious in that the scale is deceptively large. It brings together work that extends beyond the substation viewing, along with a response to the exhibition by the collective OtherFilm, which addresses the presence of the archive as both a source and subject of the three trilogies. It is an exhibition rich in complexity, conceptualization and intellectual fervor.

Erik Bünge - Photography by Laura Gianetti

Review by JO SALT - M.A F

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About this Review
Publisher: M.A.F
Costumes:
What?: Trilogies
Where?: The Substation
When?: 23 January 15 March 2015
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