From Rebecca Gallo…
Earlier this year, Newcastle-based artist Andrew Styan was awarded the major prize at the PICA Hatched National Graduate exhibition. The Bell Buoy is a mature and memorable graduating work from this former metallurgist and climate change researcher.
A spot-lit lump of coal spins slowly on a motor; a small mounted camera zooms in and out. The action is captured live and projected wall-size so that the fist-size lump becomes an immense rotating asteroid, slowly expanding to fill the frame. In a second projection, a buoy bobs mutely on a black, oily sea. The literal warning buoy is perhaps unnecessary, as the image of the advancing, engulfing coal alone is a powerful one.
Coal is such a dominant agent in climate change and environmental discourse, but most of us understand it only in the abstract. In Styan’s installation, coal is both demystified, and imbued with symbolism and power. The reality of a lump of coal is surprisingly prosaic. It’s even kind of beautiful, this rock with its striated layers of matt and shiny carbon; it’s hard to imagine its damaging potential. The footage, however, projected larger-than-life, refigures this small lump as an ominous monolith, poised to engulf and destroy.
Until August 29
Stills Gallery, Paddington
Pic: Andrew Styan, The Bell Buoy, 2014. Installation Stills Gallery, Sydney, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery, Sydney. © Andrew Styan.