Shifting Forces: A material state is an impossibility
Text by Hester Lyon
A chemical state is a fragile one. It dictates possibilities and limitations. It opens itself up to abrasions and manipulations. It’s hospitable to change and loss.
There is something inherent in these states. As if a material declares its own parameters, forges its own path when subjected to reactionary processes. To treat a material with intensity is to wake up its form, remind it of what it knows of itself.
Shifting Forces brings together four artists whose practices use and manipulate materiality as a means to explore the natural and the supernatural, the chemical and the psychological. In deploying processes of translation and transformation, materials dictate their own form and expose states of in-betweenness. It is there, in the intermediary moments between extremities, that complex relationships emerge.
The work of Gabrielle Skye Nehrybecki, Nina Rose Prendergast, Julien Comer-Kleine and Sean McDowell encompasses hybrid forms of sculpture, drawing, video and sound to seek understanding around properties inherent to particular materials and their subsequent states of change. Borrowing systems from the natural world these artists advocate for the non-material, working to make discernible that which often evades the human eye.
In deploying processes that protest against deterioration and loss – casting, recycling, imprinting, engraving, melting, filming – these artists gesture towards complex philosophical questions. McDowell displaces the egg carton, thrust from familiarity into monumentalism once cast in bronze. Prendergast toys with states of instability, establishing a tension between the inherent fragility of plaster tablets and the desire to fossilise and embalm images. Nehrybecki teases impressions of the evasive Red Triangle Slug in footage of activity and non-activity, seen and then unseen. Comer-Kleine creates an autonomous system of glass and metal, amplifying sound to externalise imperceptible material interactions.
There is uncertainty in these modes of enquiry, asking each artist to relinquish control to chance encounters. Ultimately, Shifting Forces is concerned with the matter from which something is or can be made and the potentiality of this premise. Presenting dismembered and altered ecosystems, these artists question the autonomy of materials, their value systems and their metaphysical potential through a series of interconnected tensions.
Shifting Forces is a collaborative installation by Julien Comer-Kleine, Nina Rose Prendergast, Gabrielle Skye Nehrybecki and Sean McDowell, encompassing hybrid forms of sculpture, painting, textile, video and sound. Driven by a mutual interest in natural and supernatural worlds, the artists have used a combination of manmade and organically occurring materials to mimic a range of systems existing within the environment. The exhibition investigates the potentiality for complex relations to unfold between elements, recognising their ability to move, shift and transform in ongoing states of fluxes. Shifting Forces aims to uncover the natural ecologies inherent to the materials and forms, including their physical limitations and the scientific properties that constitute them. The works lend themself to readings that consider the presence of non-human organisms, entities and paranormal forces, navigating spiritual knowledge structures and stories of the occult. Within this dialogue, the artists also contemplate cycles of life and death, existentialism, psychology, our relationship to materials and how such experiences affect sensation.
This exhibition is a part of CAVES Guest Curator Program 2021 - and made possible with support from Creative Victoria. Curator ~ Sean McDowell