artist statement

the nonhuman to walk fieldwork risk to map network knowledge to place wonder

That which leaps, that which rises

Perdita Phillips is an Australian artist with a wide-ranging and experimental conceptual practice. She works in mixed media installation, environmental projects, sound, sculpture, photography and drawing. Whilst materially diverse, underlying themes of ecological processes and a commitment to a resensitisation to the physical environment, are apparent.

Referencing different schema of natural history representation her work highlights the uneasy relationships between factual texts and fictions that are at the heart of art-science investigations. Biological systems are presented and then undermined with unlikely annotations, interpositions and decompositions. She has worked with minerals, landscapes, termites and bowerbirds at the intersections of human and nonhuman worlds; conversing with animals and contrasting the wanton wildness inside us with the wilderness of post-industrial life.

Walking is an important process and material in Phillips’ work. Her binaural soundwalks extend the senses, combining real and imagined terrains and generating sonic/spatial dissonances pointing us towards broader contemporary tensions of wonder and irrationality, sustainability and individuality, cosmopolitanism and belonging and resilience and change. Her walking works and spatial installations link the speaker and the listener within their shared physical environs generating richly immersive spaces, virtual but anchored in reality. New ‘collective’ spaces are created that are both complex and physically immediate.

Working with objects, environments and found things, Perdy creates a world where everyday entities and events are brought out of their invisibility. Materials, environments and situations are combined, transformed, reconstituted and rearranged. The expanded art ‘object’ speaks directly to our experience of sensations. There is a strong sense of relationships being assembled: viewers become co-mutualists or interdependentees. Conversations ensue.

Paralleling major works is a restless urge to document small happenings in the world around her. Phillips borrows the term ‘eclogue’ to describe these solitary events. Using walking she catalogues environmental experiences through minimal interventions. In the photographs produced tiny evanescent gestures are read again, alerting us to the unexpected vitality of the world. The spontaneous observations and engagements with ‘wild life’ lead us to question the divisions separating art from the abundant sufficiency of nonhuman worlds.

Key to understanding Perdita’s art is her affinity to processes of change, which lies like a lithe trace beneath the surfaces of artworks. Phillips strives to highlight states of transformation, leaps and shadows in equal measure. She explores areas of social and ecological divergence to make new and unexpected combinations as potential ‘ways forward’. A gentle yet insistent engagement with these positive convulsions allows her to present her work in divergent forms. She extends an invitation to immerse yourself in a richer reality overflowing with humour and wonder.