LAURA | Curated by Sophia Hewson

2 – 25 February 2017

 

Ismael Kachtihi del Moral, Take the F train (New York) ADAGP Paris, 2016

 

Wandering in the bowels of the city, one is struck by the different sounds, the different populations, the bodies, the tiredness; every subway corridor is as reflective spaces.

The majority of the images were taken in Brooklyn, neighborhood which is characterized by its horizontality, industrial district, in particular near Sunset Park.

Impressive, hard architecture, but which I found very human. Long avenues, sorts of no-man’s-land, where, suddenly, we can find sex shop lost in this industrial unlimitedness : in improbable shop windows, the reflection of the passers-by gets involved to the dummies in false appearances. : they are the mirages of the big city.

This district, and New York City in general, emits in spite of the tentacular aspect of the city, a big impression of humanity.

These Dantesque architectures, factories, warehouses, replacing the Gothic cathedrals, glass buildings : there also, reflective spaces which put us in front of ourselves.

 

Ismael Kachtihi del Moral

Paris 2017

 

Diana Policarpo, Visions of Excess, 2015

 

In Visions of Excess, Diana Policarpo pairs George Bataille’s work on ‘general economy’ The Accursed Share (1946-49) with Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch (2004) where she analyses the history of women’s oppression and the body in the transition to capitalism, investigating the rationalisation of social reproduction.

 

This work is driven by a soundscape and voiceover that evokes and re ects how bodies can be transformed in a register of experience but also limited in both space and time.

 

Diana Policarpo (b. Lisbon, Portugal) is an artist and composer based in London. Her work investigates power relations, popular culture and gender politics, juxtaposing the rhythmic structuring of sound as a tactile material within the social construction of esoteric ideology. She creates performances and installations to examine experiences of vulnerability and empowerment associated with acts of exposing oneself to the capitalist world.

 

Her sound and installation work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Artists Unlimited, Bielefeld, Germany (2016); Xero, Kline and Coma, London (2015) and Kunsthalle Baden- Baden, Germany (2014). Her work has also been included in group exhibitions at North Gallery, New Castle, UK (2016); Peninsula Gallery, New York (2015); W139, Amsterdam (2015) and AN/DOR, London (2014). Policarpo has recently presented performances and given readings at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Cafe OTO, Pump House Gallery and IMT Gallery in London.

 

Hannah Raisin, ‘Spectrum’, 2016 

 

A Colourful Vertigo

 

I feel her eyes and recoil in shame. Only a few days into a two-month Asialink Arts residency in Bangalore and all it takes is a sideways glance. So enthralled with my crunchy masala dosa, I have attacked it with both hands, drawing the eyes of my fellow studio artists as we breakfast at the local cantina. I curse myself, all the previous mental notes about food- hand etiquette forgotten in the moment.

 

Two hours later I traverse the traffic tango – a song of sultry jazz horn and screechy wheels – this sensory overload is enhanced by the voices and colours of the fabric market where I am tracking down material (by the kilo) for a new project. Mountains of lace and embroidery tower way over my head. I pull at one of the many fabrics, disrupting a fine balance. The stack avalanches and my friend almost disappears from sight.

 

Bangalore is a city alive with optimism and emerging artists appear to be questioning everything. They are exploring social and environmental concerns with bold, youthful passion. They facilitate exhibitions, experimental performances and discussions in alternative spaces from lounge rooms and garages, to family restaurants and local parks. One afternoon while avoiding monsoon rain, an art school graduate describes a recent international video art show that took place entirely in a classic Indian telly shopfront.

 

Later, a young art student at her university gallery shows me a selection of traditional Hindu drawings. We laugh at some of the distorted and unrealistic representations of female form. Our conversation progresses to the entrenched cultural discrimination of the class system and I am shocked when she says ‘feminism and contemporary art are only really accessible for the educated and privileged classes.’

 

As a passionate Australian feminist, I feel vertigo in this place. It is a colourful vertigo oscillating between the desire to practise cultural sensitivity in a foreign place and to simultaneously remain true to my core values. I wonder about the conditions of shared feminist dialogue in a place where I am only just beginning to scratch the surface of a complex cultural environment. I am acutely aware that at any one time I am completely oblivious to numerous social nuances and signifiers.

 

As the golden haze of day shifts to blue there is no sense that the endless traffic and blaring horns will ever abate. I feel something soft brush the inside of my hand and out of the darkness – beside me a young girl comes into focus, imploring me to buy a rose. I notice the red and gold stains on my hands and arms. Only an hour earlier I was swimming in a pool of jasmine and coloured powder on my studio floor. The arc of culture shock and fervent passion colours a palette and I am just beginning to discern some of the shades.

 

Hannah Raisin, 2016
Art + Australia online

Created in India with the generious support of Asialink Arts and Creative Victoria

 

Shevaun Wright, The Rape Contract, 2016

 

Frustrated by the continued marginalization and distortion of Indigenous and female voices within the legal and art spheres, I seek to subvert systemic discrimination by cannibalizing what is the most privileged form of Western discourse: the legal contract.

 

Fundamental to Western legal scholarship is the problematic metaphor of the social contract, the idea that persons’ moral and political obligations are dependent upon a contract or agreement among them to form the society in which they live. Whilst sustaining significant critique, Contractualism and Contractarianism continue to permeate the praxis of law as an instrument for organising human relations. Carole Pateman’s seminal work The Sexual Contract and Charles W. Mills’ The Racial Contract have significantly eroded the premise of the liberal individual in Hobbesian and Rawlsian theories of social contract. The inadequacy of contract as a means for attempting to undercut relations of social classes and market forces has also been observed by Alexander Alberro with his assertion that Seth Siegelaub and Bob Projansky’s The Artist’s Contract unwittingly contributed to the commodification of conceptual art. Indeed, the reception of The Artist’s Contract by artists, collectors and gallerists has served as a microcosm for the limited utility of social contract theory. Aimed at securing liberal values of freedom and self-will via individualised, adversarial negotiations, social contract theory has instead whitewashed the subjugation of the ‘feminine’, the ‘racial other’, the ‘sexually deviant’ within this competitive contractual framework.

 

The Rape Contract (pictured) is a literal manifestation of a part of my social contract. It formalizes the agreement struck by persons (particularly cisgender women) with the State for their membership to society and reparation for rape. Created in response to the disempowering experience of assisting my close friend negotiate the Australian legal system as a victim of rape, the document is presented as a commercial services contract for ‘Victim Services’. It provides capped ‘Social Payments’ in the form of legal redress, compensation and acknowledgement in exchange for achievement of community and legal expectations of victimhood. Informed by Carine M. Mardorossian’s groundbreaking work Framing the Rape Victim: Gender and Agency Reconsidered, it articulates the ‘Key Performance Indicators’, indemnities, limitations of liability, behavioural specifications and dispute mechanisms enforced against victims.

 

Overlaid upon the formal legal document are excerpts from notes, personal writings, psychiatric reports and a police report taken from a victim of a violent rape and transcribed by me in invisible UV ink. Visibility of this speech is conditional upon the application of black light mini forensic LED flashlights provided as part of the installation.

 

By translating the emotionally charged topic of rape into commercial terms, the project traverses the theoretical divide between art and law, integrating cross-disciplinary feminist critiques to collapse axiomatic assertions of an impenetrable, rational and impartial legal framework in favour of anaesthetics of ambiguity and dispersed perspective. Abjuring outright protest, my project aims to open a space in which to engage in a meaningful dialogue about the absurdities of ascribing neutrality to legalese, by bringing into relief the anachronistic expectations and standards of the law regarding the feminised body, to as one victim put it, “gain a sense of normality in the depravity”.

 

Shevaun Wright, 2016