‘Positive Returns’ celebrates the potential of relentless upbeat energy, gestures of support, and perseverance in the practice of 110%–Kieran Bryant, Beth Dillon, and Lachlan Herd. As the name suggests, 110% responded with the zealous sincerity and commitment of a new recruit to the hurdles of long-distance collaboration. Where other projects and friendships might fall into hiatus-mode, Positive Returns forges a bond between the artists, harnessing the distresses and triumphs of independence and friendship into a productive, self-perpetuating care package system.
In response to various members’ international successes with residencies and study, 110% modelled Positive Returns as a separation-practice. Taking turns, each member of the trio produced an artwork independently, musing on the nature of their collaboration, expressing a sense of longing, but mostly, potently encouraging excellence. The works were then mailed between Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Iceland and Australia during the year, from one member to another, and assembled as a body of work in the Archive Space exhibition.
The works in ‘Positive Returns’ have threefold nature. First, as a love token, charm and care package to a friend, they perform as networked social objects. The ‘care’ of the care-package is honest and pure and bittersweet. Works including the found foreign calendar with humble strikes counting down to reunion (Calendar of Success), and the overly intimate post-jog armpit-swab (Scents of Achievement) sharing the essence of a simple success, express a yearning for the other’s company with a twisted literal gesture. They evidence the genuine closeness of the relationship and call to mind one’s own experiences of long-distance care packages to friends, relatives or lovers: the realness of Tim Tams whitened by temperature change across continents; familiar handwritten scrawl and grammatical quirks not numbed by digital space; and the excessive storage of insignificant objects imbued with preciousness by longing.
Second, as a group of artworks for exhibition the works express the three artists’ individual practices, but authored under the single moniker. Formally, the works survey almost every media with a frenzied energy: A summit wouldn’t do without you comprising 45 postcards, the photo documentation of a non-attempted mountain climb; Belief meant = Achievement is part of a series of digital prints on commercial ceramic mugs; ok cool great features hand moulded foil sculptures of three hand gestures of support, trimmed with ribbons; additionally, framed aspirational CV-manifesto documents, pencil-drawn portraits, and glitchy, lo-fi gifs. Notably, the gifs are the only works with a screen-based delivery system, and though this is reflective of the artists’ typical practices in sculpture and performance, the aversion of the (possibly faster, certainly lighter, and often cheaper) digital format signals the attachment to object-hood and its relational functions. At a time when the reflex of trophy emojis decorating a few words is an expression of support and approval, the handcrafted and posted object-artwork protracts the sense of reflection, slows the process of the exchange, and highlights the shared materiality of the physical world, probing at the distances forced and minimised by objects.
This leads to the third operation of the works the substance of the collaborative practice itself: the process of the collaboration, speaking of itself. The triadic thematic (the foil hands, mug graphics, Power of Pythagora collage) gestures the strong performance practice of 110%, together, proudly self-reflexive in custom coordinated uniforms and props, as here one part of the work place-holds for each member. Musing on collaborative process, and beautifully off-kilter, Talk Me Through This offers a conveniently scripted conversation to the collaborators (and audience) about art making and discussing process. While the narrator’s calming of our predicted insecurities is cutting and comical, the familiarity and scripted-ness questions and reactions raises the futility, inevitability and credibility of the conversation. A graphic meme in my feed posited art making as the mutual territory in Venn diagram showing ‘absolute narcissism’ and ‘crippling self doubt’; the instructional booklet crystallises this experience in a consultation relationship – but with the reassurance of our insider comrade and collaborator, truly ‘meaning it’.
Somewhere between a professionals’ contract and a friendship’s pact, the artists’ collaboration in ‘Positive Returns hinges on trust, patience, and endurance. Underscored by wry wit and feral humour, the genuine care behind this exhibition highlights the mutually nurturing nature of the artists practice, challenging us to resist the procrastination and sense of mediocrity which pocks our potential, and join the intoxicating wellness of aspiration and encouragement. 110% may not be statistically possible (but we’ll beat those odds).
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( _____ ) | <3
( ____ ) | 110%
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- Alison Groves