Mapping the Drowned World

Art Life , Exhibitions Oct 19, 2015 No Comments

From Rebecca Gallo

Curated by art writer and artist Tracey Clement, this exhibition takes the cult J.G. Ballard novel The Drowned World as its starting point and muse. Ballard’s 1962 post-apocalyptic sci-fi tale essentially predicted global warming, and Clement argues that contemporary visual art can similarly ‘prompt debate on key issues’. She brings together six artists – Roy Ananda, Jon Cattapan, Kate Mitchell, Janet Tavener, Gosia Wlodarczak and herself – who have responded directly to the book, or whose work shares pre-existing parallels.

Mapping the drowned world

There is an excerpt from Cattapan’s ongoing series of small paintings of fragmented or ruined cities, and Tavener’s photographs of ornate frames trapped in water or ice, predicting the destruction of art itself. Mitchell dives through large-scale prints of sunsets and palm trees, literally shattering the illusion of paradise-on-earth as she attempts to enter it. Wlodarczak, for whom English is her second language, created her own complex symbolic code to re-present some of the more verbose words in Ballard’s book. Clement’s sculptures stand like pale elongated dunes or anaemic termite mounds, signalling a bleached and spent landscape. Ananda’s object poetry is powerfully suggestive. In one of several small sculptures, a stethoscope trails multiple lengths of tubing, grafted on like vessels or roots, each leading to its own diaphragm as if to listen to the jagged rhythms of multiple ills in concert. Ballard’s prescient exploration of a world going down the plughole seems a fitting inspiration for these diverse works that share an underlying concern about the way our world is going and the stories we tell ourselves about it.

Until October 31
SCA Galleries, Rozelle
Pic: Mapping The Drowned World, installation view at SCA Galleries. L-R: Jon Cattapan, Tracey Clement, Kate Mitchell. Image courtesy of SCA Galleries.

Rebecca Gallo

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