On Return and What Remains

Art Life , Exhibitions Aug 22, 2014 No Comments

From Stella Rosa McDonald

As one ends and multiple others promise to begin, it is a sad truth that reflections on war will always be timely. As the recent centenary of the beginning of the First World War reminds us—there is little to celebrate in conflict, where resolutions are never equal. In On Return and What Remains the articulations of conflict by international and Australian artists share a focus on notions of survival, predominantly from the perspective of the armed forces.


The work of Richard Mosse, Harun Farocki and Baden Pailthorpe in particular emphasize the hyper reality of war zones for military personel, where the boundaries between real and virtual scenarios co mingle long after the dust settles. In MQ-9 Reaper II (That Others May Die)Pailthorpe focuses on the human manipulation of unmanned military drones. The multi-channel video is an entirely immersive and at times dizzying animation that employs military technology as political critique. With a focus on the vestiges of war Bonita Ely’s large-scale sculptures are self-portraits made in response to the “shell shock” her father experienced from the Second World War. Using her childhood cot, deceased parents bed and a Singer sewing machine, Ely fashions a military watchtower and a machine gun that stand a testaments to war in the home. From a superlative selection of artists and work, Omer Fast’s film Continuity is remarkable for the way it focuses on fetish and devotion to look at what it means to survive for the families of those who never return.

Until October 12th
Artspace, Woolloomooloo
Pic credit: Harun Farocki, Serious Games III: Immersion , 2009.

Stella Rosa McDonald

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