Remedial Works is a group exhibition that brings together six Australian and international artists whose works explore the novel and specific materials of contemporary global societies, and how these materials can affect human bodies, the environment and relationships.
The exhibition looks at how we are now placed within a unique environment of surfaces and substances—from rare earth metals and the ingredients of modern food science to consumer products, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals—equally palliative and poisonous, and all connected to capital.
Recalling the maxim ‘the dose makes the poison’, the works in this exhibition look at the fine line between a material’s capacity to repair or pollute both bodies and land. While recognising that most of us are situated within the systems of industrial production and consumption, Remedial Works asks, in light of this, what role can art making perform towards remediation and healing?
The 2016 Hugo Boss Prize winning artist Anicka Yi is showing her 3D film The Flavor Genome, a fictional narrative in which a flavour chemist goes into the Amazon rainforest to extract a compound from a rare and mythical orchid. The film continues Yi’s interest and research into how our politics are infused into our senses, and how assumptions regarding race, gender and sexuality affect our perceptive field.
The Lithuanian collaborative duo Pakui Hardware’s recent sculptural works On Demand appropriate NASA satellite images that depict the surface of Mars, which are then cropped and zoomed so that the work begins to resemble inflamed or infected skin. As such, the work conflates the surfaces of bodies and landscapes, the macro and micro and the proximate and vastly distant.
Shana Moulton’s video series Whispering Pines depicts her alter ego, the hypochondriac ‘Cynthia’, in a search for perfect spiritual, physical and mental health. Each film sees Cynthia engage in a surreal and magical way with the new age promises of modern consumption. ‘Activa’ yogurt makes Cynthia become weightless, pharmaceutical drugs see her body change into clay and makeup remover strips away the layers of body to reveal an absurd core being of pure energy.
Melbourne based artist Sophie Cassar’s important body of new work stems from her own experiences of chronic illness. Consisting of collaged artist books, assemblage objects and films constructed from iPhone footage and found online video, the work employs cuteness as an equally humorous and devastating strategy to explore the agency of sick girls and women.
Perth born artist Jess Tan’s new body of sculptural work is materially inventive and assembles bought and found materials to create results that are both messy and refined, attractive and repulsive. For PICA she has created an installation which alludes to an ‘inner sanctum’, a site of personal escape.
Tan is interested in how personal meaning can be embedded in materials and objects. In her work she employs everything from natural materials, human hair and cheap plastic components, to aromatherapy scents and cosmetics, often finding surprising and poetic textural similarities and allusions along the way.
As part of Remedial Works, New South Wales based artist Clare Milledge recreated Strigiformes; Binocular, Binaural, an artist-shamanic performance which was recently staged at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, Norway. This was the first time Milledge, who is well known for her paintings produced backwards on the reverse of glass sheets and for her accumulative total installation work, enacted a performative work in Australia.
Exhibition Curator Andrew Varano said that themes of sickness and healing, human bodies and the land, repair and pollution are present within the exhibition, as are subjectivity, the senses, poetic language and the imagination. PICA Director Amy Barrett-Lennard said, “PICA has been thrilled to support Andrew Varano, a talented Western Australian curator, in the development and presentation of Remedial Works. It is an exhibition that tackles timely concerns for all of us living in a globalised world of abundance, aspiration and fear.”
Remedial Works was opened by Dr Zarrin Siddiqui, President of Pakistanis in Australia and Associate Professor in Medical Education at UWA, alongside another group exhibition, I don’t want to be there when it happens. A specially curated public program, including artist and curator talks, a performance by Clare Milledge, a choreographical work by Jay Emmanuel, open studios, and a lively multicultural celebration co-presented with illUMEnate WA, will accompany these exhibitions.