Other Currents

Art Life , Exhibitions Sep 28, 2015 No Comments

From Rebecca Gallo

Australian artist Nicholas Mangan is known for his investigations of major social, cultural and political issues. With a dark undercurrent that hints at obsolescence and human folly, Mangan’s output has included cast objects, video, books and installation. His latest show takes over Artspace from the ground floor to the rooftop.

Nicholas Mangan

Both Ancient Lights (2015) and Process in Action (2013) are self-powering, off-grid projects. The means by which the projectors are powered forms part of each installation. A noisy diesel-turned-coconut-oil generator inhabits a viewing cell for Progress in Action; in another space, a cage contains batteries, regulators and converters that store the sun’s energy from rooftop solar panels and transform it back into projected light for Ancient Lights. Each project is a self-contained circuit, making manifest Mangan’s interest in mined resources, energetic currents and the ‘physical transformation of a given material to produce energy and therefore effect social change’ (Mangan in exhibition reader).

Progress in Action’s video component shows snippets of archival footage of Bougainville, where local indigenous people fought for the closure of a large Australian-run copper mine. Their resistance included the harvesting of energy from coconut oil when their fuel supplies were cut off. One of two videos for Ancient Lights features an endlessly spinning ten-Peso piece, miraculously righting itself each time it tips toward horizontal. Bolstered by invisible forces, it exists in a self-perpetuating closed circuit, an infinite loop with its own strange rules and regulations. Much like the economy, or going off-grid, or a work of art.

Until November 1
Artspace, Woolloomooloo
Pic: Nicholas Mangan, Ancient Lights, 2015, two-channel HD video with sound, off-grid solar power supply. Installation view, Artspace, 2015. Co-commissioned by Artspace, Sydney and Chisenhale Gallery, London and supported by commissioning partners the Keir Foundation. Courtesy the artist; LABOR, Mexico; Sutton Gallery, Melbourne; and Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland. Photo: Jessica Maurer.

Rebecca Gallo

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