Landing 3 - Aldo Iacobelli, George Popperwell, Sally-Ann Rowland
Doctorin' the TARDIS
Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia - 2000
There is a strong conjuring of absences taking place in Landings, a feeling of doubling and ghosting, where we know that there is more being brought into view than initially meets the eye ; like whisps of mist that resolve into fleeting phantasmal faces an episode of the Twilight Zone. Part of this conjuration is engendered by our knowledge that the works that we see in front of us in the rooms and spaces of the CAC here have had a previous life: they have occupied other walls and areas, have been, as the Buzzcocks memorably hypothesised in an album title: 'a different music in another kitchen'. These works have been in previous exhibitions, different contexts, and, promiscuously have been touched by the gaze of others, have been seen before - perhaps by us, perhaps not - and are therefore positioned in some other, past narrative, one which, nervously, one might consider edging into history, be it local, personal, or possibly, (whisper who dares) Art history.
When considering the sensations generated by 'Landings' the feeling of rematerialisation is strong - look at them and at the same time think of that see-sawing roaring sound like an electronic whale crying for its young that accompanies the slow arrival of the TARDIS in Doctor Who as it lands on some desolate planet surface made largely out of papier maché and styrofoam - and this feeling is made stronger through the nature of the works, which are integrated into the space, installed, are part of the fabric. No little pictures these which can be put up easily with a nail and a level, then dismounted in one easy swing leaving nothing perhaps but a lighter rectangle on the wall. Rather the component works are hip to the contemporary, and so follow the general trajectory mapped out by the work of art in the last hundred years as it travels from possessing the qualities of an Object (timeless, immutable, - think Keats's Ode to a Grecian Urn), to possessing the qualities of an Event (temporal, changeable, contextual) So their reappearance is made more acute and mysterious, obviously some effort and heavy juju here, which demands, as the uncanny does, that like some character in Shakespeare surrounded by portents that we ask why. What do these materialisations and manifestations portend? After all, a ghost always has some other tale outside the narrative of it's own appearance - a fearful murder, a hidden treasure, an illicit love. In trying to identify this other tale our senses are made more acute our ears more sensitive to hinted meanings, and it is in this heightened forensic sensitivity that the virtue and pleasure of events such as Landings lie.
There are pasts and absences conjured by each work outside those of their previous history and exhibition. Aldo Iacobelli's inscrutably bonkers title 'Bill is a Child Molester' masks a work that uses a technique previously used by Fresco painters, way back when before electricity and the overhead projector where the cartoon (working drawing) of the image was transferred to the plaster through the lines being pricked by a needle and then powdered charcoal puffed through, tracing the image onto the wall. Here the patterns are derived from Spanish tile decorations and motifs: the originals of which lie far distant, in time and geography as well as the more indefinable distances between cultures, from the room in which they now (re)reappear. In considering the work we find ourselves in a hall of mirrors when trying to pin down the image of the maker, the originator. Are the designs by another hand other than that of Iacobelli, or has Iacobelli invented this pattern himself, influenced by the designs of others? Certainly it was Iacobelli's hand that punched the lines and curlicues through the (vanished) paper template, but it was not his hand that patted the charcoal on and withdrew the paper to leave behind these patterns. The way the pattern is orientated repeated, whose decisions were these? In all these sleights of hand where lies that of the author? In turn the work suggests another room existing in another place -perhaps another time, or perhaps happening right now, elsewhere, who knows? - decorated and articulated by these same events of line and curve. (or is the 'other' room attempting to materialise Tardis like right here right now?)
The fearful and the uncanny, are more directly referred to in Sally Anne Roelands' work, and we are returned to that time when the world is most animate, as we have not yet made the psychological separation between us and it - that, in theory, comes later as we coalesce into 'self' - so everything in the world is possessed with a weird volition as it may be part of us . Here there are definite echoes of Freud's vast oceanic feeling as we are presented with an open door with a top balanced on it, poised to tumble if some one, some thing , something unknown and scary should push the door further ajar to gain access to our room. Such clever trickery and clever trappery should make us feel secure as we huddle (in memory) under the bedclothes transfixed upon this awful crack, until we realise that this 'Burglar Alarm' is a fake: a top cannot remain upright unless it is spinning, and here there is no movement. If it can't rotate can it fall? That this is becoming some frozen interdimensional threat is reinforced by the hard and solid velvet darkness behind the door, a cthonic other made concrete and dense. The work brings to mind other presences: Duchamp's studio door (where one door , depending on which way it was swung could seal one of two doorways, thus providing us with a door that is open and shut at the same time) and his 'Fresh Window', patio windows covered in leather are here implicated as players in an emergent psychodrama.
back room there's some one muttering, listing lists, naming names and
bringing into being legions who, until voiced, were never there. You
should be careful about naming, it's a primal act, for, without the
word there can be no thing referred to. George Popperwell's 'Nouns of
Assembly' was previously, (briefly) installed on the grey stone steps
of the parliament house in Adelaide, where they would be (maybe) passed
over by the very people that they were referring to. In this context
they had the roll of some crazed David Attenborough, prolixly attempting
to classify the beast that pass over head. Here the words are more of
an incantation: one can imagine a parallel undertaking by a stone age
shaman to ensure that departed animals return. These beasts however
are more fantastic, they are the definitions of executive, of the body
politic, of the weird miasma of activity that we, in some sort of unconscious
conspiracy of consensus reality, deem to have real form and real function.
Popperwell has classified these, not through a Linnean methods of structure
and taxonomy, but through the generation of collective nouns: giving
a specific name to a group or grouping. similar in a way to medieval
naming s of the hoardes of Hell These names are neologisms, fantastical
and fantastic, providing a sardonic commentary on the (presumed) activities
of those being grouped - A Manana of Election promises, a Shine of suits.
Others are more impenetrable, requiring a bit of quizzing, maybe a dictionary
- a Callithumpian? a Conspue? But this reinforces our talmudic certainty
that each name, each act of naming, equally contains a truth and contains