Dividing/Line SOLO 2020

28 Nov 2020 : Articulate Project Space, Sydney

The Decade Show SOLO invited artists who have exhibited single or whole-space installation works at Articulate to install a documentation version. For my documentation of DIVIDING/LINE (2018) I installed a single leaning fence panel and 12 A3+ photographs. It is the first time I have exhibited photo documentation.

A line cuts both-ways, space is always contested. The dividing/line separates groups : spectators/witnesses : a face-off. My interest was to dissect the social norms and expectations of spectatorship and the politico/social responsibility of the artist. Where does the dividing/line lay between the whole and its parts? Is a line drawn (as : in the sand) threat or challenge? limit or demarcation? bloodline or barrier? Enter by the backdoor : intimate friend or surreptitious visitor ? Enter by the front door : invited guest or official inquisitor ? Borders, domains, territories, conflicting interests and patterns of usage compete for attention. Whether whole or single space, it offers neither carte blanche nor terra nullius. I approached the gallery as a domain occupied by artists within the larger territory of the immediate vicinity. Transposing notions of migration frontiers, diasporas, regulation, forced separation and division of communities was my modus of installation. I set out to problematise, conflict and conflate, causing inconvenience, consternation and confusion, undermining habitual convenient flow. The problem with a whole space is that you cannot claim free reign over its entirety. To re-order the space I considered access, entry and exit, door and stairways, reversing and questioning. Cutting into the space I interrupted its regular patterns and confused visitors by making it appear that the venue was closed or under renovation. Fencing is a ubiquitous mundane material, a hoarding or security or safety device, so how can it be considered art? The division of space demarcated a redirection of those who entered. Starting with a simple string line on the floor, then a suspended plastic sheet on an overhead line, each side occluded from view, referencing East and West. From upstairs, not part of my whole-space, a privileged overview. Straight and upright vertical fencing, progressively leaned, collapsed and careened as suspended barriers traversed the space, threatening to fall, obstructing passage, no longer a division as much as a cobbled together ghetto, a favela signifying mismatched use and history. Employing hired and scavenged materials, I completed the work with distorted spoken audio suggestive of an Orwellian/ Huxleyan dystopia, a border control scenario from which one might not escape. My continuous presence as security guard or overseer reinforced the allusion to domination by an authority. Participants observed those on the other side as differentiated, divided by mis/fortune, beliefs, practices and purpose. Sleeping niches, milk-crates and stools, little safety flags and stacked orange base-weights completed the Folly.

This excerpt from Margaret Roberts’ essay explains Articulate’s commitment to this kind of installation practice: “Installation is emphasised because Articulate was founded to support spatial art practices, to prioritise artists and their practices, and to be artist-run wherever possible. Outside of large funded institutions, there were (and still are) few exhibition spaces with program arrangements that accommodate the needs of site-specific, installation and related spatial practices by, for example, providing project space for artists to develop works where they will be exhibited with time to construct in the space; facilitating curatorial collaboration between artists in group exhibitions of site-specific works (so artists can imagine how the site will change once all artworks are installed); understanding that installed artworks are usually speculative until constructed in the space; letting artists install their own works where the installation is part of the making process; expecting that location or architecture may be listed as a material in a work; recognising the particular role and nature of documentation of spatial and temporal artworks, and so on.”

Project Details
Dates 28 Nov 2020 to 13 Dec 2020
Duration 2 weeks
Collaborators Solo shows documentation by artists Ciaran Begley and Merryn Hull, Elia Bosshard, Jenny Brown, Alison Clouston and Boyd, Beata Geyer, Lesley Giovanelli, Chantal Grech, WeiZen Ho, Laine Hogarty, Wendy Howard, Richard Kean, Perrine Lacroix, Kenneth Lambert, Kathryn Ryan, Alan Schacher, Slowing Down Time, Splinter Orchestra and Helen M Sturgess of their single-installations made at Articulate over the last decade.
Producer Articulate Project Space, Sydney
Category installations
Credits Photos by David Brazil, Peter Murphy, Alan Schacher