┐ Pat Brassington └

© Pat Brassington, Untitled, from the series Cambridge Road, 2007

© Pat Brassington, Untitled, from the series Cambridge Road, 2007

“In most of her ‘artist’s statements’ and the rare interviews in press, Brassington mentions her engagement with both surrealism and psychoanalysis. But there is no allegiance, no endorsement, no salute to the father. Everything is troubled in one way or another: from horror imagery that is violent and abject, through the hauntingly strange and uncanny, to the hideous, the hilarious and the banal. Brassington interrogates and extrapolates on the psychoanalytic in extreme ways: orifices exhale, threaten and protrude; the feminine is hysteric, phallic, powerful; the father is demented, perverted (the père-version of the father) and menacingly psychotic.
Feminists have often critiqued Brassington’s work with reference to Julia Kristeva’s thesis about the subversive potential of the pre-Oedipal space and experience where the abject is a threat to the social order.7 The abject is what spills out from the body and cannot be contained: tears, vomit, sexual excretions, blood. It is characterised by the body seeping from its own containment (the skin), and tumbling into the social world unannounced. The abject body creates a kind of awe and fear in the viewer and as such has a radical edge in representation. Like the pre-Oedipal space before language, the abject threatens to topple polite social conventions.8 But, like the surrealists, Brassington interacts with psychoanalytic experience rather than adhering to any particular school of thought. As an artist aware of feminist art criticism, she undercuts the misogyny sometimes associated with the surrealists’ representations of feminine sexuality and their romantic notion of the female muse who was invariably fetishised through male desire. In her work sex, sexuality, desire and the sensual are evoked in a series of bizarre mise-en-scènes that present flashes and glimpses of dreamlikestates. These invoke hysteria and psychosis but do so by looking at fears, fantasies and traumas with a gaze that is importantly awry. This skewed perspective on the psychosexual landscape allows the artist to become a kind of conjurer.”

Excerpt from a paper by Anne Marsh, very worth reading

Pat’s work at Stills’ Gallery

║ Marian Drew ║

© Marian Drew, Nature unpicked, from the series All that remains, 2010

© Marian Drew, Pair of self Portraits with birds, from the series All that remains, 2010

“All that remains is a new body of work that incorporates fallen Australian birdlife into hand-stitched tablecloths to reveal a new relationship between our urban and domestic lives and the cohabitating animal species.”

More of Marian’s work can be sen here

║ Rose Farrell & George Parkin ║

© Rose Farrell & George Parkin, Acupuncture Cow, from the series A Thousand Golden Remedies, 2000

© Rose Farrell & George Parkin, Anatomical Cow, from the series A Thousand Golden Remedies, 2000

«A Thousand Golden Remedies is a mixture of the planned, the pragmatic and the inspired. Walking the streets of Beijing Farrell and Parkin discovered the large emporiums where white-coated assistants presided over counters of herbal medicines or the stock-in-trade of the acupuncturist. From here were sourced the Ginseng root, seahorse, Lingzhi fungus and dried Gecko lizard; the plastic model dog, horse, cow and pig that feature in A Thousand Golden Remedies. The images retain a curiosity for the uncommon, but the mystery now hinges on a cultural difference, not the characteristic historical distance. Equally uncharacteristic, the works are sparse, almost cryptic, word-pictures. The resulting composition is in part, I suspect, a response to Chinese language, in which meaning is built up into a single, potent ideogram. Links are almost architectural, as in the wooden base of the acupuncture model, or literal as in the tied bandage/splint. The series was realised with calligraphic speed and facility.»

Merryn Gates

More of their work here

║ Sarah-Mace Dennis ║

© Sarah-Mace Dennis, Asylum Bathing Area #1, from the series Tracing the trail of the dead, 2004

© Sarah-Mace Dennis, Asylum Corridor #2, from the series Tracing the trail of the dead, 2004

«Hysteria, as the word suggests, was originally thought to emanate from the uterus and so was considered a specifically female malady. It is a condition that can, of course, overtake both genders, but tends to be associated with less sophisticated subjects and highly constrained, authoritarian contexts. In medieval times certain symptoms of hysteria (such as the loss of bodily sensation) were seen as direct proof of a witch. 19th century medicine constructed a complex hegemonic pathology around hysteria. In the 20th Century it was a phenomenon associated with Hitlerian oratory and Beatle-mania.

Madness in general and hysteria in particular are the subject of Sarah-Mace Dennis’ works in this exhibition. While the artist draws on many of the theoretical ideas that arose from the deconstruction of the power plays of illness by postmodernism, she does not present a conventional feminist analysis. Her images evoke the frustration and anxiety which one can imagine triggering a hysterical episode – as the individual’s subconscious secretes a shell of symptoms in abrogation of personal responsibility – but this vulnerability is set in a soft nostalgic light, warm and diffuse. The expressive poses and haunted eyes suggest the romantic abjection of a Pre-Raphaelite heroine. A moral object lesion wrapped in an erotic cipher. The paradoxical sensibilities at play in the work are heightened by the use of photomedia, which carries the tenacious aftertaste of veracity long after it has been digested as visual fiction. I am reminded of the immersive tragedy of high opera. But then, the best operas, though themselves fictions, reach through the imaginary to touch on the truths of the human condition. Here it is best not to analyze the facts of the image so much as sense the affect.»

Alasdair Foster, from his catalogue essay Departure Lounge

More of Sarah’s work can be seen here
Inward / In-ward (Madness and its Ghostly Echo), regarding this series can be read here

║ Deborah Paauwe ║


© Deborah Paauwe, Broken Melody, from the series The Crying Room, 2006


© Deborah Paauwe, Crimson Autograph, from the series Double Dutch, 2002

“Deborah Paauwe’s imagery circulates between art photography and erotica as the artist seduces and assaults the gaze. Paauwe engages with a labyrinthine gaze that Lacan charts as a map full of traps and misrecognitions

In this series of photographs the artist accentuates the screen aspects of the Lacanian gaze, framing this quite literally for the viewer by using a veil to shroud and figures. The body is seen through a screen of translucent material, enticing the voyeuristic desires of the spectator. The bodies are soaked in and through the veil, making indents and traces in the material, as the subject becomes index.

The veil produces a sensuous affect at the same time as it shrouds the image giving it an auratic, ghostly shield. The veiling of the female form has sensual, religious and ideological aspects: it is simultaneously erotic and sinister

The erotic aspects of the photographs position them within a discourse about the objectification of the female form for the male gaze. The images are both dangerous and playful. They capture a coming of age, a transition from childhood to adult sexuality, and they engage with and unsettle the gaze through association with larger issues. Paauwe plays with the gaze and the construction of the female subject by getting her models to perform scenes. The performative aspects of the photographs need to be considered – it is this artifice that separates the images from ‘real’ life. There is no document being recorded. These are not real scenes captured by the camera as a mute witness. These pictures are made as art. Some consciously reference the history of photography. Porcelain, for example, could be read as a feminisation of Edward Weston’s famous photograph of his son, Neil, titled Nude Torso (1922), that was appropriated by Sherrie Levine in the 1980s to make a statement about great masters and authorship. However, Paauwe’s rendition goes beyond parody. It is a homage to the flesh but whereas Weston and other modernist photographers stressed the form of the image, Paauwe seems to make the flesh ephemeral. The touch of the fingertips on the chest is delicate but haunting. The tips of the fingers appear bruised or dirty and they set up an unnerving contrast to the clean white flesh and the lace bodice.” (…)

Anne Marsh

To see more of Deborah’s work click here

║ Polixeni Papapetrou ║


© Polixeni Papapetrou, Dreams are like water, from the series Games of Consequence, 2008


© Polixeni Papapetrou, Ravenswood, from the series Games of Consequence, 2008


“Papapetrou’s fastidiously detailed mise-en-scène fuses landscape and portraiture with ease. Her formal control flexes the camera’s hold on the unsettling tropes of youth. Costumes, props and carefully scouted locations reinforce a highly stylised sensibility to these scenarios, further enhancing their haunting beauty. Resisting digital manipulation, Papapetrou utilises natural light to heighten her vivid palette. Away from our familiar urban environment, Papapetrou’s children act out roles that take us into a familiar but forgotten past. In doing so, Papapetrou induces what she calls the ‘…wonderfully heterogeneous dimensions of childhood, where the fear and danger mix with the angelic.’2

Props are deployed as the accoutrements of childhood games. A skipping rope, hula hoop, quoits and a blindfold accentuate the language of play with all its competitiveness, disappointments, humiliation and taunts. Whether whispering secrets in The fall or tugging a rope before a treacherous ravine in Dight’s Falls, there is an underlying sense of malice and threat. Other photographs are more circumspect and enigmatic. In Miles from nowhere, the main protagonist reclines like Lolita on a banana lounge, her pink gingham frock offset by lurid, red nails. On the cusp of adolescence, Papapetrou’s daughter gazes suspiciously but knowingly at the camera, relaxing in an arid field with a light aircraft nearby.

Papapetrou recalls her own childhood growing up in Port Melbourne with two siblings. Free to roam the streets with her sister and baby brother in a pram, she relishes the memory of ‘going for a Sunday drive’ and road trips to Victoria’s Lake Eildon and to country New South Wales. Now, she is accompanied by her own young family who journey to various locations and sites. This is a family affair. The landscape resides as a backdrop from the dry undulations of Lake Mungo in Wild World, the forest terrain of Ravenswood and the rugged, graffiti sprawl of Sisters Rocks in Stawell.” (…)

Natalie King

To see more of Polixeni’s work click here