Thursday, January 31, 2013

you are the robber, come and shake hands - PICA

Michele Theunissen
you are the robber, come and shake hands
16 February - 7 April 2013 

Curated by Leigh Robb

you are the robber, come and shake hands is an evocative three screen projection by established WA artist Michele Theunissen. A band of brightly-clad travellers journey along the edge of rugged and brittle mountains in South Africa, impelled forward by music that carries their stories. The film's title is taken from one of the songs, a throat song that growls from deep within the body of the female singer: a force almost primeval. There is a disquiet between the raw power of the song and the generosity implicit in the words of the title.

Referencing the dispossession of land caused by struggles between indigenous people and colonisers past and present, the work is both stark and joyous, highlighting the paradox of maintaining generosity in the face of displacement. Theunissen worked with WA artist Elizabeth Delfs to design a set of costumes for the band of travellers which absorbed the influence of the military, Victorian propriety with its long dresses and ruffled collars, as well as symbols of commerce such as ties. The costumes were intended to unsettle power relations. They reflect the adaptive ingenuity of indigenous people involved in the barter and exchange of colonisation and the energy generated in cultural exchange.

Michele Theunissen: you are the robber, come and shake hands is a Perth International Arts Festival event, supported by Perth International Arts Festival Visual Arts program partner Wesfarmers Arts. This project has been also been assisted by the Australia Council through the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments and a DCA Visual Arts and Crafts Mid-Career Fellowship.

Image: Michele Theunissen, you are the robber, come and shake hands, 2007-2012 (film still). Image courtesy the artist. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

3 ROOMS - Object, Design and The Body - Exhibition Installation - Singapore Part 3

It has taken me a silly long time to get these images posted but better late than never! So these are installations shots from the exhibition I participated in Singapore, 3 ROOMS - OBJECT, DESIGN + THE BODY at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Singapore. The gallery also produced a very smart catalogue, please email me at if you would like to have one, or I can email you a PDF version.

Exhibition co-curators Anne Farren and Emily Wills invited three Western Australian designer/artists to contribute, all of whom are young creatives whom "represent a young genre of makers who are reexamining the nature of the fashion object and its presentation". In addition to myself, Jocelyn Tan And Alistair Yiap were selected. Students from Curtin University and LASALLE College of the Arts were then invited to respond to our work, and asked to consider the "process of fashion design by adapting traditional methods of garment construction and engaging in methods of investigation to move fashion away from existing ties with garment production". Below are the installation shots from the key designers as well as a selection of student work which I was particularly impressed by.

"As fashion is being presented internationally in galleries, museums and in public spaces as much as on the runway, it also has the potential to have greater impact conceptually that is also reflected on itself, and on people, bodies, identities, ethics, aesthetics and notions of beauty - the very stuff, in fact, that fashion is really made of".

- Hazel Clark, Conceptual Fashion in Fashion and Art by Adam Geczy and Vicki Karaminas (eds) London, Berg, as refernced in the catalogue 3 ROOMS - OBJECT, DESIGN + THE BODY

Imogene Spencer - Subconscious Skin 
Curtin University, Western Australia

This series by Curtin student Imogene was stunning - she used dispersal dyes painted onto transfer to create the pools of colours on a synthetic material, and then manually etched lace pattern work through the garment using a soldering iron (a burn out process), around and through the print. The uneven hems echo the print pattern.

Fabric detail

The photographic documentation was very professional and high quality also!

Lauren Sims - Micro
Curtin University, Western Australia

Heat etched lace work integrated with a organic pleating, all done by hand. This work is such a great example of how textile manipulation is key to the design outcome, which so many commercial designers forget about.The combination creates a sophisticated sculptural outcome and abject beauty.

Ariana Davis - Atanga
Curtin University, Western Australia

Jocelyn Tan - Key Designer 
Western Australia

The above three students work is a response to designer Jocelyn Tans' installation. Tans' work "investigates the space between garment and accessory and the slippages between retail and exhibition display". Her work is often interactive - in its passive state, each piece is a beautiful object, and when activated by the wearer, there is often a cheeky function and interplay. A necklace which is also a pencil box; a cap, to cover the head, is covered in hair; or an accessory which also is a makeup applicator. Objects are also unisex and suggest "altered ways of making / wearing / using".

Celene Bridge - Princess and the Goblin
Curtin University

Objects hand carved from balsam wood.

Alistair Yiap - Key Designer
Western Australia

Shinead Gecas - Arcana
Curtin University, Western Australia

And then my installation.......

Exhibition and opening night.......

Imogen, Lauren and Alistair