The Dark Room Dianne Tanzer Gallery + Projects 2010
Excellent: An Exorcism
Some things stay too long, travelling next to you like a shadow. For me
it is odd shapes, textures and patterns. Strange things from childhood that
I’ve seen before, but don’t recall where. In some ways this feeling parallels
my experience of working with collections of art. Some works become embedded in
your visual memory. Regardless of whether you like them or not they kind of
stalk you, haunt you, linger. Many artists have image collections, archives
that make tangible these visual connections and shadows. It continues to amaze
me how important and invasive these bits of printed matter and photographs can
be. These are fragments of a whole, each contributing to my cultural DNA. I
want them and I want to know their source, but I also want them out.
My early studies in graphic design taught me many skills and techniques
that have become redundant with the advent of the digital age. We learnt to
manipulate images by hand, create our own and even shift the meaning of the
image. Reproduction was slower back then. Using techniques like deep etching,
we isolated the object from its background, freeing it in a sense. I constantly
sourced images, extracting them and repositioning them with the zeal of John
Heartfield. These skills deeply informed my relationship to the image and have
framed my visual biography; I relay memories through them, I AM the Deep Etcher.
My subsequent studies in the visual arts taught me context and meaning.
But despite the development of a more sophisticated appreciation of visual
language those early images that shape my memory and reside passively in my
growing archive have increased in potency. At the same time, fading memories
have caused these images to lose their context. While working as a photographic
darkroom technician, I found myself collecting abandoned test strips and
photographic images from bins; adding to my collection of increasingly
contextual-less images. These fragments of peoples lives – cats, couples,
landscapes - had value to me. I am the
Stealer of your image and your images.
During a recent hard-rubbish throw-out I acquired the next-door
neighbour’s collection of Architectural Digest from the 70’s and 80’s. I know
he abandoned his Architecture degree just before they handed it to him, but I
haven’t asked why. Maybe he realised it was a futile pursuit in a city like
Perth where the exorcism of architectural style is ongoing. Old is bad, new is
good, flatten it and then rebuild it. Those Architectural Digests were
exorcised, the haunting ended. I recognised something in this action.
Within walking distance of my home I found a church that reminded me
that the centre of the world is always where you stand. I didn’t know it
existed until I walked past it two months ago. St Denis exists as a monumental
ode to Le Corbusier’s Ronchamp Chapel. To enter you must walk through a series
of texts – Biblical names painted on the doors. You part the words and enter
into a heavenly and uplifting place (even to a hardened atheist like myself).
Around the same time, I was reminded of a tubular metal staircase I
glimpsed while studying at college. Another exquisite modernist icon, I had a
photocopy the staircase in my archive. I don’t know if this staircase still
exists but tubular metal has become very important to me; an image, a relic of
the past. I would truly like to find this staircase and walk on it, or more
precisely fly on it. For now, I love to draw it supporting organic forms.
These images track a lifetime of glimpses, memories, possibilities and
slippages. In some regards their presence in these works equates their
exorcism. I am expelling them, at least some of them. Perhaps, I am giving them
life in order to kill them.
All works and texts copyright Matthew Hunt or the appropriate Author.