17 June – 3 July 2016
Paper Mountain ARI, Perth
Lines that Define: the exploration of subjectivity and perspective by artists Olga Cironis and Mel Dare.
Inspired by their personal narratives and migrant cultural contexts, Cironis and Dare produce socially-charged yet personal 3D and flatline works respectively. While their difference in form and personal narrative result in distinct, contrasting pieces, Lines That Define produces a synergic dialogue that encompasses contemporary social issues including cultural identity and globalisation, gender politics, and environmental change.
The result is an exhibition that encourages viewers to be aware of their own personal narratives and immerse themselves in the conversation on the social issues around us.
How long is a line?
By Ric Spencer
A piece of string is twice as long as it is from one end to the middle – the equation reads as such: 2 (L/2) where L = length. Theoretically then a line is also twice as long as it’s half, a string being a physical manifestation of a line.
A life then, as another manifestation of a line between two marked points, is also twice as long as it’s half – but things start to get more complicated when we try to locate points along that line called life and then try to measure between these. This will to negotiate backwards through various points of our lives is something we define as memory – a skill which at once isolates, congeals and elucidates on these points, thereby measuring not through length but through experience. Experiences are a measure of any life, experiences create memories and memories build lives, build families, societies and cultures; memories are stories told from which others gain insight into our lives.
From these stories values, ethics, law and principles of reason are born. When I look at Olga and Mel’s work I am reminded that experiences and their measure through memory are not universal but rather shift and shape through context. The stories they tell in their work respond to their own lives, and all that comes from this in terms of identity, displacement and belonging. The shifting, lucid nature of their use of material to me offers a reliable reflection on the unreliability of memory as a collective measure.
If memories (personal and cultural) create identity they also over time become less and less linear and more and more wave like, washing over our lives and descending into haze. I was reading, almost as a reflection of this, that the universe of space-time that we all live in is created in gravitational waves. Last year scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), who had been looking for it for forty years, measured a gravitational wave that washed over the earth at the speed of light. The wave of gravity was created by two black holes colliding, two individual entities whose existence intersected to create matter, energy and ultimately us. Gravity is the curvature of space and time, gravitational waves are imprinted with information about their source – our source – the source which creates the space time fabric. I recently read a column in The Straits Times (Singapore) by Justin Ker which I think puts the relationship between this wave, us and memory beautifully: “The gravitational wave made all the masses on earth…(it is) perhaps an astrophysical form of memory, carrying information about the history of its formation, as it ripples across the universe. The gravitational waves prove that Einstein was right, and we live in a fabric known as space-time that is malleable and unreliable, like walking in a mist where the faces of wives, lovers and children fade in and out. The solidity of our existence, and the forward arrow of time that we experience, are false.”
In light of Ker’s article it’s interesting to think about the complications of identity in a PGW (Post Gravitational Wave) world. Again when I look at Olga and Mel’s work, together, not only am I reminded of the collision and collaboration of two entities but also of the fractious nature of identity over time, particularly in terms of the subjective nature of experience, and again particularly as it relates to memory. The sandblasted, reacquainted nature of Olga’s sculpture and the floating spatial linear forms of Mel’s paintings for me list toward understanding ourselves not in terms of social media, facebook, family or even world history – but rather how we might exist in a constantly shifting universe with non-linear memory.
If the gravitational wave moves reality as it moves across us, leaving behind a material memory somehow disjointed, then likewise Mel and Olga’s work leaves a wake of fluid identity, their works shift as waves of new materialism wash over them. If in effect we are living in a dream then things like creation and recreation become cyclical as a constant renewal, and I think this is beautifully approached in Lines That Define. Olga and Mel’s work is embedded with the tension of erasure and rebuilding, where memory becomes pivotal to understanding identity in a constantly shifting physical and material existence. It seems to me in a PGW world that memory begins to mean more to us then a pleasant daydream – rather we become attached to it because it gives us a sense of self and cultural longevity in the face of a wave that constantly reprograms the source and creates an ebb and flow of reality. Perhaps we always knew this wave was there and so we have over evolution embedded memory in our cells to withstand its presence. Cultural memory is memetic and we rely on its knowledge to pass on learning and to keep building lives. When we lose memory, when our stories disappear, we mourn as a species – the loss that gets us most is the loss of data.
In this sense how long is a line?
In Lines That Define the most important lines are the lines that connect, the ones we throw into cultural history, into time, when memory becomes an anchor. Olga and Mel’s work reminds me that the lines that are long enough reach out over time and space to connect cultures, people and stories of place – they become the crucibles of memory and the measure of our existence.
Justin Ker The Memory Biopsy, The Straits Times, Saturday May 28, 2016: Opinion, A49
On 11 February 2016, the LIGO and Virgo collaborations announced the first observation of a gravitational wave. The signal was named GW150914. It matched the predictions of general relativity for the inward spiral and merger of a pair of black holes and subsequent ‘ringdown’ of the resulting single black hole. http://en.wikepedia.org/wiki/First observation of gravitational waves
Dr Ric Spencer is an artist and writer and currently Curator at Fremantle Arts Centre.
Review_Cultural fabric laid bare _ The West Australian_2016_Lines that Define exhibition