Staged Substation (2013), Rendered image Still, Sean Dockray
Vantage Point: an overview of the city, a map of the land, an interpretation of the past, and the name of countless real estate companies. This exhibition explores the conceptual vantage point of the building in relation to the city. It presents an opportunity to dwell in and on a landscape imbued with innumerable ecologies. The building and the city are probed in unison. In this exhibition the landscape is mapped through an aggregate of singular vantage points and processes. You will not find one complete view, and so must continue to navigate the terrain.
The newly-produced works by six artists and artist collaborators cover a macro-to-micro scale investigation into space and are clearly concerned with enquiring within, overtly researching, understanding through discourse and redefining through intervention. The works are propositions, site-specific interventions, manifestos, videos and installations.
In the lead-up to the federal election, several of the works overtly address the climate of social and ecological justice in Australia. The works are closely bound to the politics of land and land use. They dismantle and bring into the gallery issues and policies concerning power relations, workforces, geological resources and migration.
Exhibiting for the first time in Australia, Sean Dockray (USA) takes part in the ‘act of making a property more attractive to potential buyers—ultimately increasing its value—through the use of furniture, lighting, and other lifestyle cues in Staged Substation (2013). This multi-roomed, multi-screen work maps the geography of labour in these made-to-order images. Outsourcing, the very essence of free market capitalism, is here instigated and examined. Reflecting on the pace of such commercial transactions, Dockray states: ‘Such speed and efficiency is a counterpoint to the movement of real bodies through Australia’s notorious migration processes.’
Nothing to See Here (All that is Solid Melts Into Air) (2013) is the third work in Amy Spiers’ & Catherine Ryan’s (AUS) ongoing research project into collective histories and national identity. After having erased the Harbour Bridge from Sydney’s cityscape, and having created a temporary memorial site in Berlin (Site Dedicated to the Active Effacement and Complete Disregard of History (2013)), Spiers and Ryan have taken the opportunity to manipulate the view from the top floor of The Substation. Spiers and Ryan aim to question dominant social orders and the role of silence when faced with ‘the way in which various powers or societies might like to just vanish inconvenient things away.’
In response to the context of the exhibition and the compartmentalised nature of the gallery space adorned with doors (new additions to the heritage-listed architecture), Jessie Bullivant (AUS) unites the isolated spaces of the gallery as one in Support Material (2013). Bullivant will remove all the doors of the gallery, leaving them to exist in a suspended state of action which preferences the gesture over the material.
The city itself is introduced into the gallery through The Manifesto of Urban Cannibalism – the Melbourne Declaration (2013), part of the Urbanibalism project by Wietske Maas (NL) & Matteo Pasquinelli (IT). The stairwell of The Substation will resonate with the spoken stanzas of the Manifesto and the Transit billboards and gallery walls will exhibit its slogans. Urbanibalism is described as ‘the experience of the city from the perspective of ingestion and as a form of life that grows autonomously from any planned ‘city ecology’’.
Delving into the macroscopic, Grounding (2013), a four-screen installation by Dominic Redfern (AUS), is an in-depth study of place through the medium of high definition video. Three levels of the gallery are scanned and framed. ‘These points’, Redfern explains, ‘are where the articulated and the organised are interrupted. They highlight and puncture the artificial schism between nature and culture.’
The installation Yallourn (Amendment) Act, 2013 (2013) by Lizzy Sampson (AUS) includes a re-assemblage of materials from the site of enquiry, which ‘explore the relationship between bureaucracy, power, restriction and community’. At the heart of the project sits a recreation of an obsolete offering from Energy Australia to the displaced citizens of Yallourn, Victoria: an Australian Barbecue.
Supported by Arts Victoria and Hobsons Bay City Council
Publication design by Sarah Lyons and Will Foster
The Manifesto of Urban Cannibalism – the Melbourne Declaration (2013), Wietske Maas & Matteo Pasquinelli. Audio work (resonating speakers installed in the handrail playing the spoken stanzas of the Manifesto across the 3 floors of The Substation building) Photography: Clare Rae