Melody Woodnutt | Velvet Gloves
2 November – 9 December
Melody Woodnutt is a descendant of the pirate Blackjack Woodnutt, and has rambled around the world before landing in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia in 2018. She spent eight of her formative artistic years living in a remote Icelandic village lusting after extreme nature.
Woodnutt works primarily within the expanded field of 16mm analogue moving image film. Artworks take form as large scale immersive installations, expanded cinema, short 16mm films, or photographic film stills. Her films are often made from an alchemical feminist position as default (alongside bio-art’s concept of “witches in labs”). She is currently an exhibiting member of Artist Film Workshop – an Melbourne based ARI and film lab for analogue small gauge film, and the Artistic Director of the international filmmakers’ residency and presentation platform, The Weight of Mountains.
With a deep pull towards unknowable scapes such as the sea, cosmos, or spectral worlds, alongside explorations in love, intimacy, and poetics; Woodnutt’s artworks entwine emotional landscapes with environmental, cosmic, or social-political landscapes to create short poetic and personal allegories. Her most prevalent pursuit of emotional landscapes gravitates toward love, sex, death, and the feminine gothic.
Her work has been shown at ACMI, NGV/Melbourne Design Week, Melbourne Music Week, Fed Square, Gertrude St Projection Festival, Metro Arts (Qld), JWCOCA (Qld), PICA (USA), Westminster School of Law London, various regional galleries, as well as venues and festivals in Canada, USA, Iceland, Germany, Austria, Morocco, Serbia, Chile, and the UK.
Velvet Gloves is a video work made from 16mm film that fosters voyeuristic and suspended moments of touch that have been inspired by the journey, ethos, and opening of Hedon House: a queerly-conceived, lovingly-crafted playspace, kink haven, fuck palace, bathouse, garden, healing space, inner urban retreat built for
hedonism and new to Melbourne. Parallel to purposeful spacemaking, analogue film is a mode of industrial resistance: a filmmaker kink, a masochistic and hedonistic desire for grain over pixels, reactionary in its slow and manual analogue film processes. These intersecting politics of withdrawal are explored to arrive at a slow-motion alternative found in play.
In dialogue with Brie Trenerry’s neighbouring work for MARS which explores the profound implications of artificial intelligence (AI), Woodnutt’s exhibition considers analogue film as a return to the physical, a commitment to in-body experiences and tactility. Within the film’s world, a physical relationship is explored with a house, its contents, and its people; it foregrounds a material connection to touch which is human at heart and playful. The work is crafted by hand: shooting, developing, printing, and editing via hand-made analogue processes, scanned and presented as digital projection.
The accompanying wall mounted night lights expand the work to the domestic space, framing a selection of backlit, 16mm still frame images (10mm x 16mm). When relocated to a home, these night lights act as beacons of the erotic, beacons of the body, glowing from the walls as you brush past them in the night. Nightlights here act just as lighthouses call for ships, sirens for sailors; the premonition of the softly lit erotic mind waits upon the walls for the body to follow.