OCTOPUS 15: 'LOST AND PROFOUND'
Artists: Peter Maloney, Tara Marynowsky, Sam Phillips, Patrick Pound, Elvis Richardson, Giselle Stanborough, Tina Havelock Stevens
Curator: Daniel Mudie Cunningham
Exhibition dates: 22 May–4 July 2015
Exhibition opening: Friday 22 May 2015, 6–8pm
Octopus is Gertrude Contemporary’s annual flagship curatorial exhibition series. It provides a forum for curatorial experimentation by inviting leading curators to devise an exhibition at Gertrude Contemporary. The 15th edition of Octopus was curated by Daniel Mudie Cunningham. Titled Lost and Profound, it considered the interface between obsolescent and new media technologies, exploring themes pertaining to memory, inscription and nostalgia. Cunningham selected seven artists who utilise readymade objects in their work and subject them to ‘profound renewal and reformatting.’ Cunningham said of the exhibition: ‘The disappearing world where images go to die is the terrain that Lost and Profound navigates. The work in Lost and Profound suggests that memory is a fiction kept warm by the blanket of amnesia that settles as time closes in and obsolescence triumphs.’
Elvis Richardson, in collaboration with sound designer James Hayes, considered the clues from a found photo album from the 1950s as cues for a visual dossier fusing forensics with fiction. Patrick Pound unpacked a large selection of found objects and photographs that come under the taxonomy of ‘falling,’ forming part of Pound’s ongoing exploration of the human impulse to categorise, order and curate. Up There, a two-channel video by Tina Havelock Stevens, resuscitated 1950s Standard-8 films shot from the perspective of a cockpit by her father, a pilot, though a durational drumming performance in an obsolete plane. Sam Phillips exhibited a series of her unique album covers, which she makes by adapting old album artwork through collage. Tara Marynowsky produced an installation titled MISTER SANDMAN consisting of modified song sheets from the mid-twentieth century that notate lost loves, hopes and dreams. Digital interfaces such as YouTube and text messaging are re-oriented in Peter Maloney’s black and white text paintings, where phrases that one would usually encounter on a screen—such as ‘The YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated’— are rendered obdurate, un-linked. Giselle Stanborough also worked with YouTube to explore the role of memory in our age of ‘obsessive documentation’ to suggest that today’s digital phenomenon of ‘going viral’ is a flipside to photography as an analogue memory totem, susceptible to loss and ruin.
The structure of the exhibition itself, which was situated in both the downstairs galleries at Gertrude Contemporary and the Studio 12 Project Space upstairs, referenced online digital wunderkammers like Google, eBay and YouTube. It sought to create a visually overstimulated environment in which different temporalities, and varying digital and non-digital realities rub-up against one another, akin to the experience of searching for information and objects online.
A full media release with artist and curator biographies can be found here.
Image: Patrick Pound, The Museum of Falling, detail, 2012–, found photograph, courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney.
Octopus is made possible with generous support from Proclaim Management Solutions.