Supernatural Artificial

By , August 3, 2009 11:22 am

3rd – 31st October 2005
Supernatural Artificial
Contemporary photo-based art from Australia

Bangkok: the Australian Embassy and the Art Center, Chulalongkorn University present an exhibition of contemporary photo-based art from Australia entitled Supernatural Artificial.

Curated by Natalie King, Supernatural Artificial examines the notion of artificial fabrication and staging in photo-based media. Presenting the work of nine Australian leading artists in photography and video, Supernatural Artificial is a highly charged and moody exhibition, which uncovers the unnatural and theatrical in contemporary photographic practice. Mixing equal parts fantasy and reality, each artist choreographs intense and strange scenarios, imbuing their images with unsettling drama and potency.

Pat Brassington explores the notion of para-psychology in unsettling dioramas. Her doctored, digital prints present familiar things that have been profoundly altered. Surreal, funny and sometimes perverse, her photographs reveal strange bodily forms such as two sets of legs under a hoop skirt or the distorted profile of a plastic doll.

Cherine Fahd’s silver gelatin photographs depict different women running through a man made forest of pines. Dressed in artificial grass, Fahd’s women seem to be in a trance or dream state perhaps experiencing a kind of magical adventure. Whether searching, yearning or escaping, these characters are impelled towards a fantastical unknown.

Eliza Hutchison combines fashion, avant-gardism and vaudeville in burlesque environments. The Entertainers is a series of photographic performance portraits documenting people hanging upside down. Hutchison styles the subjects as exaggerated characters in order to capture a range of physical as well as psychological responses to the action of gravity on the body. Like film stills, the portraits present bloated faces under extreme strain questioning notions of representation and ugliness.

Tracey Moffatt’s moody and dreamlike series Invocations returns us to the world of fairytales and storytelling. Using rondel and elliptical shaped magical scenes, Moffatt shows a black girl wandering through a fantastical forest of trees and witches invoking the supernatural. Walt Disney meets The Wizard of Oz in the Australian outback. Indigenous artist Moffatt invokes a haunting, contemporary fable filled with fear and melodrama.

David Noonan & Simon Trevaks’ immersive and hypnotic video installation, objects and architectural environments allude to gothic psychodramas. Influenced by science fiction and B-grade horror movies, they present a fantasy world populated by owl wallpaper and a folk light housed in a timber chamber. Fabricated like a film set, the mysterious film of a girl in a trance wandering in a forest is both atmospheric and cinematic.

Indigenous artist Darren Siwes’ photographs of ghosted figures superimposed on architectural and landscape scenes suggest supernatural and haunted worlds. Shot at night, using time-lapse exposure, Siwes inserts his self-image as a ghostly presence accompanied by a masked female character within the urban landscape. Strangely beautiful, the urban landscape is imbued with a surreal character and the looming presence of indigenous identity.

Darren Sylvester takes our emotional lives and the bittersweet futility of dreams as his subject. Like a film or music recording, his photographs start off as a diaristic short story refined into a single image. Heavily narrative in content, his images are like stills from a movie. For example, They return to you in song depicts a moment of remembering a broken relationship, triggered by a pop song on the car radio.

Monika Tichacek was instantly drawn to Amanda Lepore – a transsexual in New York – especially the way she has transformed her body. In her photographs and hypnotic video, Tichacek presents an array of prosthetics and fake body parts set amidst a satin boudoir. Her preoccupation with perfection of the body, cosmetic surgery and notions of beauty are explored with two female figures in different poses. Here Matthew Barney meets Orlan.

Anne Zahalka’s Natural Wonders series investigates fake and spectacular environments through large scale photographic images taken in real locations. Her intensely saturated photographs of places of entertainment are ‘unnatural wonders’ – places where nature is turned into spectacle through tourism or where nature is constructed within theme parks for fantasy or illusion. There is an eerie sensibility in these astonishingly detailed images of artifice.

Supernatural Artificial is organised by Asialink & the Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces and is supported by the Australia Council and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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