Kyneton Contemporary Art Triennial: Force Fields

Curated by Kyneton Contemporary Inc. Kyneton, Victoria 14 April—22 April, 2018

Curated and presented by Kyneton Contemporary Inc., a non-profit arts organisation comprising local artists and art professionals, the inaugural Kyneton Contemporary Art Triennial (KCAT)­­ was conceived as ‘a celebration of contemporary art and an exploration of the energies that resonate in place and community’. [1] Opening to particularly energetic rain—a natural honesty that perfectly suited the place—KCAT invited visitors to stroll through the Kyneton township and discover works by ten Australian artists. A $15 ticket included a map of this treasure hunt and gave visitors access to the artworks and performances throughout the Triennial period. Artworks were installed from the southern train station to the largely unknown pine forest at the northern edge of the township, navigable by foot in a few hours.

The event was afforded cohesion by the number of works that took viewers outside the typical art-viewing environments and into Kyneton ‘proper’. Scattered through the side streets, Elvis Richardson’s Artist Lifestyle (2018) featured anagrams of the work’s title, rendered as concrete poetry-meets-real estate hoardings. The ten panels simultaneously provided a mid-wander pep-talk and a reminder of the burgeoning popularity of Kyneton and the associated impact on property values. Georgie Mattingley’s tender images, developed through conversation with residents of a local aged care centre, drew upon the hands that shaped Kyneton, and David Attwood’s Human Shit (2018) came to you; an Attwood-sized poop emoji wandering around town, hugging kids and introducing his brand of ‘animalness’ to Woolworths. [2]

Guided runs through town were offered by Sarah Rudledge, whose video Run Kyneton (2018) allowed those of us not prepared to don the Nikes to follow her dérive of Kyneton from the comfort of her own temporary home (a progressively lived-in room at the Kyneton Motel), her rhythmic footsteps a heartbeat soundtrack to parts known and unknown. Also, leading visitors through town was Make or Break (2018), a collaboration between Connie Anthes and Rebecca Gallo. After canvassing female-identifying people of Kyneton to suggest who should be celebrated or commemorated in Kyneton, a series of ‘unveiling ceremonies’ for speculative monuments to those suggested were performed throughout the triennial. The local community were encouraged to pursue their suggestions through council, effectively pushing the performance into the future.

Tom Borgas’ Active Forms—Forest (Klein Blue) (2018) beamed its saturated colour through the pine forest. Its manifestly fabricated geometric form lay fractured and scattered across the needled forest floor, perhaps fallen into the scene, certainly foreign to the place. Another of Borgas’ works Active Forms—Loft (Klein Blue) (2018), housed in the loft space of an off-track office, gave the contrasting opportunity to build and rebuild with a mass of Klein Blue cubes, mirrors and utensils available to engage with at will. Regular performances activating the installation assisted in questioning our relationships as users with both object and space.

Kyneton’s usual draw card, Piper Street, was home to a number of works. Elvis Richardson’s video work Settlement (2016) took up residence in a private home, and examined how the personal histories and artefacts that are revealed through real estate search engine images are being lost through ‘progress’, erasing the authorship of the owner and leaving only ghastly wallpaper and unaffordable housing.

Further along Piper Street, Stockroom Gallery was home to exhibitions by Chee Yong and Meagen Streader. Chee Yong’s series of paintings Ghosts (2018) hovered along the gallery walls, almost-faces of the unknown looking out from glossy white panels, perhaps a representation of those identities whose histories are long forgotten. Meagan Streader’s An end to approachable space (2018) featured site-specific neon works responding to the architecture of the gallery, an old butter factory. Occupying one corner of the gallery Shift (corner) (2018) realigned the viewer’s relationship with the space, with its bright curves’ glare hiding the anticipated angles of the room. Cluster (for considered viewing) (2018) and Variation ‘O’ (horizon) (2018) both conferred an unexpected sense of scale, underscoring the space’s architecture and our place within the lights and shadows.

The old Ajax Pump foundry has developed a bit of a mysterious reputation over recent years with no activity behind its vast banks of windows, just a small, tantalising ‘Art’ sign over the gate. KCAT opened the doors here too, installing works by Jessie Stanley and Georgie Mattingley. In collaboration with Zoë Barry and Jed Palmer, Mattingley delivered enchanting works in response to a site which was the place of work for several of the older Kyneton residents with whom she spoke. Combining her images with soundscapes and audio recordings of their recounted stories, Mattingley contextualised spaces such as the extraordinary old washroom as places of human experience.

Jessie Stanley’s Human/Nature (2018) comprised three ‘acts’. The first of these, Native/Foreign (2018), featured five drawings extending across the Ajax factory floor, sharply rendered in spices, pigments, minerals and botanic specimens. Investigating dichotomies such as Mastery/Harmony (2018) and Survival/Extinction (2018) and accompanied by audio recordings, the drawings revealed elements of the relationship between humans and nature in shaping our environment. This investigation continued into acts two and three within the Kyneton Botanic Gardens.

Housed within a tiny cottage in the gardens, Global/Universal (2018) employed old-school 3D-specs to facilitate the colour separation of the information projected into the cottage. Through each of two coloured windows different parts of the information were revealed: ’gravity’ or ’eternity’. Earth or survival. The final act of Stanley’s captivating work was Space/Time (2018), a guided walk through the gardens. A map led to a few of the key features of the gardens, whilst downloadable audio continued the exploration of our relationship with the natural environment.

KCAT 2018 was intended as ‘an exploration of the energies that resonate in place and community’, and to a degree this was realised. Visitors and locals alike were introduced to new aspects of the Kyneton township and its people, to their history, and to their place in a greater schema. However, a fuller exploration of the theme would have been achieved through the involvement of local Aboriginal artists and art professionals whose input to themes such as ‘place’, ‘energy’ and ‘community’ would be incredibly valuable to both Kyneton and the Triennial. Whilst this omission needs to be addressed in future iterations of the Triennale, the artistic voices that were present engaged with the community in meaningful ways. I look forward to the development of KCAT in 2021 especially how it deepens and diversifies its engagement with Kyneton through broader inclusions.

 

[1] Kyneton Contemporary, ‘Force Fields, April 14-22, 2018’, http://kynetoncontemporary.com/forcefields/; accessed 14 April 2018.

[2] ‘Within a humanistic framework, they say that shit is thought of as disgusting, abhorrent and uncouth, because, like porn, it reminds humankind of its inescapable animal nature. It reminds you of your animalness.’, David Attwood, ‘Human Shit’, 2018, http://www.davidattwood.net/index.php/selected-works/human-shit/; accessed 1 May 2018.

Trava Mista Cano Alto

David Attwood_Human Shit20_0.jpg

David Attwood, Human Shit, 2018, Performing mascot, duration variable. Courtesy of the artist.

Jacqui Shelton

KCAT2018 1_0.jpg

Tom Borgas, Active Forms – Forest (Klein Blue), 2018, wood, acrylic paint, fixings, dimensions variable (max height 2.8m).

Ravi Avasti

KCAT2018 3_0.jpg

Tom Borgas, Active Forms- Loft (Klein Blue), 2018, wood, acrylic paint, mirrored acrylic, fixings, adhesive vinyl, printed fabric, performers, costumes, Birkenstocks, dimensions variable (floor 5.7 x 8.5m).

Ravi Avasti

KCAT2018 2_0.jpg

Elvis Richardson, Artist Lifestyle, 2018. Enamel on aluminium, 10 panels each 120cm x 80 cm.

KCAT2018 4_0.jpg

Meagen Streader, Cluster (for considered viewing), 2018, U-bend fluorescent light installation, dimensions variable.

Ravi Avasti

1_4.jpg

Georgie Mattingley, Working Man's Hands, 2018, painted with the assistance of Kyneton residents Charlie Vosper and Alcira Crosby, digital reproduction of hand-tinted silver gelatin print, installed at Kyneton Railway Station

Lee Sandwith

4_1.jpg

Georgie Mattingley, Ajax Flowers, 2018, video projection on continuous loop, accompanying sound work by Zoë Barry, Installed at the former Ajax Foundry, Kyneton

Ravi Avasti is an artist based in Kyneton, Victoria. He is currently undertaking a Master of Contemporary Art at VCA, University of Melbourne. Ravi is investigating metamorphosis, with a focus on the mushy bit in between the made and the remade.

Mens Flynit Trainers