From Stella Rosa McDonald…
Gary Carsely’s work reminds us that art does not exist in a vacuum, that its status as an exalted object or experience should be always be contextualised —if not upstaged—by life. Picture This invites viewers to question labour as a form of capital via a parable of wealth and work: Ikea Lack tables have been hacked to resemble—if not supplant—15th Century Intarsia furniture, provenance (a system used to prove the authenticity and value of the art object) becomes nothing but a paper trail, photography is quite literally a veneer.
Picture This plays with visual synonymy, using inductive reasoning to question whether the identity of an object survives through the simple reproduction of its visual characteristics. (If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, is it a duck?) In contrast to artists who use luxury as a medium, Carsely produces artisanal, handmade objects with readily available digital printing processes and mass-produced furniture. Taking influence from political art of the 1960s and—surely—Hannah Arendt’s theories of labor, Carsley is cynical of a modern age characterised by artificiality and the rejection of anything that is not man-made. Though Picture This includes much installation, Carsley is best understood as a photographer, interested in the life of the photograph as opposed to photographs of life. Citing the subcultural performances of drag and Karaoke as models for his practice, Carsley’s works focus our attention on the value of public action versus private economic pursuits. What worth should we assign to art made from IKEA furniture? Or, how can we afford IKEA furniture made from art? How does life as a system of value, compare to art? Amongst all this cynicism the beauty of these objects remains. They are, perhaps despite their maker’s intentions, works of great cultural value.
Until October 3
Chalk Horse, Darlinghurst
Pic: Gary Carsley, Sthul P.3 1850/2105. 120 x 76.9 cms (image size) Karaoke’d photograph. Digital print using archival inks on Hahnemuhle Rag Paper. Image Courtesy the artist and Chalk Horse, Sydney.