Doing Time

Art Life , Exhibitions Jul 20, 2015 No Comments

From Stella Rosa McDonald

Doing Time challenges conventional representations of detention, and equivalent states of confinement, isolation and imprisonment, to probe the politics and ethics that shape such narratives. Peter Greste’s imprisonment in Egypt and Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan’s imprisonment in Indonesia are two accounts of detention that influenced Carrie Miller’s curation and loomed large in the Australian, if not global, consciousness in this past year. In the center of the gallery sit the remains of Lucas Davidson’s Black Cell, an opening night performance in which the artist was buried alive-for sixty minutes beneath gravel in a wooden casket. As the final stones were laid over Davidson, leaving only the tips of his nose and toes showing, the crowd carried on drinking and talking. The seductive work—which reminds us of the limits of our own empathy—acts as a locus for the exhibition’s themes of incarceration and the phenomenological experience of time.


How one ‘does time’ is central to all these works, many of which have been newly made for the exhibition. Anne Ferran’s choreographed photographs continue to explore her interest in history and memory with her Align series focusing specifically on the alienating effects of imprisonment. The series shows two performers photographed in the same location at different times, though through seamless montage they appear together highlighting the impossibility of both privacy and community in detention. Other works explore the isolation we experience from our own bodies in time: in Sylvia Griffin’s corporeal work Rabbit Hair, a storybook pattern from a dress that the artist wore as a child is embroidered on silk. The work’s innocuousness draws you toward it until you are close enough to see it has been stitched with human hair. Tendrils escape from the frame in a very physical and ultimately disturbing evocation of childhood. With equal parts menace and humour Doing Time is a moving and novel account of the nature of incarceration.

Until August 8
Verge Gallery, Darlington
Pic: Lucas Davidson, Black Cell, 2015. Wood and blue metal gravel, 200x90x30cm. Image courtesy the artist and Verge Gallery.

Stella Rosa McDonald

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