THEN THING BEGIN TO CHANGE
Kath Fries, Julia Gove, Kathryn Ryan and Alexandra Spence
Curated by Katy Preston
That we live in an era in which we are inundated with imagery through social media is not a new observation. The drive to capture the everyday (our friends; surroundings; food; ourselves) through applications such as Instagram has become second nature, and increasingly common is the phenomenon of photographing and sharing visual culture in the form of art exhibitions. While this practice of documentation has interesting implications for all art forms, it has particular ramifications for the ephemeral.
Established in an attempt to raise questions of temporality, transition, life and decay, the tradition of ephemeral art is not merely temporary in installation, but is conceived to mark the passage of time. Living, dying and evolving within the exhibition context, these artworks constitute a different experience for every viewer, and as such capturing a single moment of their existence in a photograph highlights, and at times problematises, their transient nature.
THEN THINGS BEGIN TO CHANGE… #ephemeral2013 explores this strengthening form of digital interaction with the world and probes its potential relationship with the transitional by presenting an exhibition of ephemeral art forms and asking observers to document its physical changes in a cumulative virtual exhibition. Working on varying temporal cycles and continuums, the artworks of Kath Fries, Julia Gove, Kathryn Ryan and Alexandra Spence included in the exhibition mark the passing of time through shifts in light, sound and material.
Focusing on the complexities of our human relationships with nature through her artistic practice, Kath Fries creates works that utilise organic materials to demonstrate the effect of time. Fries’ beeswax window installation Solace explores the delicate impermanence of this medium, taking advantage of its translucent nature to allow sunlight to dapple through the patterned sheets and rest upon the gallery floor. With every passing minute the shadows cast by the raw material shift and warp, caught in a daily cycle. Liquesce also examines the organic properties of beeswax, documenting the transitional stage at which its geometric grids dissolve when melted. Playing as a projected loop this contemplative work allows the viewer to see this gradual structural devolution in a slow cyclical form.
Also working in a cyclical manner with references the fragility of the natural, Kathryn Ryan and Alexandra Spence’s collaboration Egg Interiors listen to Outside Sounds is a meditative work exploring the transition between the intimate interior and the world outside. Calling to mind notions of growth, evolution and vulnerability through the form of the egg, the installation challenges these established perceptions with the incorporation of plaster, a material that is associated with the stable and permanent. Ryan is interested in exposing the methods of assembly and integrating the devices of display into the artwork, transforming the purpose of the plinths by employing them to amplify Spence’s sounds. The inclusion of sound in the work is used to investigate distance, space and time. This is shown in the mechanics of portable sound equipment; sound’s ability to transmit itself ephemerally yet precisely across the world; and its grounding in the materiality of Ryan’s objects. A further ephemeral dimension is introduced as the sounds themselves mark time with their various tempos and cyclical repetition. The four sound pieces playing in conversation with one another, allowing the viewer to be caught in their ever-changing pace.
On a larger scale the sculptural installation work of Julia Gove considers the constructed form and experiments with the potential of both traditional and unconventional materials. Taking a medium commonly perceived as industrial, Gove exposes the organic reality of Gyprock in her untitled installation. The sculptural form evolves throughout the exhibition on a continuum that could be interpreted as growth or decay. Elegantly stark in its hard angular surfaces, the artwork comes to life over time with a gradual dripping and seeping of colour that emerges, blooming vividly from its interior. This growth aesthetically transforms the work, reaching a point at which the very substance that has brought the object to life becomes the cause of its destruction.
In a constant state of flux, THEN THINGS BEGIN TO CHANGE… #ephemeral2013 is a dynamic environment in which changing artworks take part in a shifting dialogue with one another and the viewer. It is the photographs these viewers take that will serve to document the evolution of the show’s appearance, creating a virtual exhibition that will last indefinitely, long after the physical show has literally ceased to exist.
- Katy Preston Curator