Review :: Group Show at Firstdraft

June 20th 2011


Currently showing at Firstdraft is a group show combining the work of Penelope Benton, Alison Locke, Tully Arnot and Charles Dennington and Samuel Bruce. There’s an array of mediums on offer – from found objects to installation and photography – and despite not adhering to any one particular theme, the exhibition presents a neat package of what’s currently happening on Sydney’s experimental art scene.

Penelope Benton’s series of photographs entitled Un Collection de Parties Decadents, (and yes, excuse my shocking French so lets say rather A Collection of Decadent Parties), is a body of work documenting the theatrical and performative nature of Sydney’s queers, all with a dark twist and foreboding overtone. Based on theme and variation, four colour saturated photos depict high tea gatherings, playing with notions of the beautifully deranged, the exotic, camp glamour and the social anxiety of voyeurism. All photos boast highly staged compositions – at no fault however, because this is exactly what is being flurried around. The idea of life being staged in front of an audience.

Alison Locke presents another photographic body of work called Shapeshifters. Here we see a series of prints, all 100% computer generated, depicting cloth suspended in space. Locke’s work captures moments of fleeting movement. The photos toy with ideas about depth, presence and absence and the imprint we leave through our physical possessions. The subjects of Shapeshifters – cloths – evoke a ghost like presence and delve into the hyper-real. These are otherworldly photographs that cast an ethereal like-spell over the entire Firstdraft space.

Next is the work of sculptors Tully Arnot and Charles Dennington with their series of mini-installations called Double or Nothing. Here we walk in and around a number of plinths displaying seemingly disparate objects. There’s a stack of soft-drink cans in the corner, a gold coin, plastic fingers, plastic wax dripping from the ceiling and other random (for lack of a better word) things. Arnot and Dennington work from a collaborative practice model where conceptual ideas are discussed and shared. The installations are as much art object as they are the process undergone to produce them. I must admit, it’s quite hard to tell whether or not these works are actually finished, which in turn endangers them of being categorized as flimsy, but perhaps this is exactly what the artist-duo intended – to get us thinking about modes of production and how art is indeed judged differently by everyone.

Finally we arrive at Samuel Bruce’s Monolith. Bruce’s work is a cargo-cult imitation of an object seen in Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Monolith is a box-like apparatus complete with screen, 7 oscillators, speakers and audio, which is triggered by light-sensitive elements. It’s very sci-fi, it’s very Kubrick and it’s most definitely very experimental. This is a work that demonstrates Bruce as an artist slash musician and at best, a master of generative audiovisual abstraction and handmade electronics.

Currently showing at Firstdraft and running until the 26th of June, this group collection is as diverse as it is intriguing.


What: Group show

Where: Firstdraft, Chalmers St Surry Hills

When: Until June 26t


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