novel ecologies (2013)
The exhibition fast|slow|complex curated by Jasmin Stephens brought together 5 artists who dealt with relations to nonhuman worlds in unconventional ways. Along with Tori Benz (Perth), George Egerton-Warburton (Melbourne), and Robert Zhao Renhui / The Institute of Critical Zoologists (Singapore) it involved a residency in association with the gallery: The Cross Art Projects, Kings Cross, Sydney,
The exhibition Novel Ecologies presents a group of artists who contemplate a relationship with a more vital world. Whether looking for greater attunement to the continuities of the earth or to the solace and joys of an unruly embodied life, they have consistently sought to cultivate the ‘natural’ in all its guises. Working across performative registers and through processes that reflect humour and uncertainty, they have often interrogated the ways in which they apprehend their place in the scheme of things.
These artists deploy shifting speaking positions and are attracted to the ties between the drawn, the written and the uttered. Their activities are characterised by a complicating of the relationship between the visual and ‘truth’ and although working in ways that acknowledge broader political and philosophical questions, their approach is more poetic than didactic.
The term ‘novel ecology’ refers to ecological systems that have only recently come into being and that consist of previously unseen combinations of species and interactions. These novel systems which now comprise the majority of the world’s ecosystems profoundly challenge traditional philosophical and disciplinary distinctions. While two of the artists have taken these emerging systems as their subject, ‘novel ecosystems’ arguably provides a metaphor for the practices of all the artists in the exhibition. With their hybrid nature and contested status, such systems offer connotations of not only newness but also strangeness and discomfort. As an exhibition title, the phrase ‘novel ecologies’ also brings to mind the role of fiction and narrative in the processes of the artists.
Over a 10 day residency the artist worked on the .–. / .- / .- project that combined Little Penguins, Japanese minisubs and the properties of waves to create the .–. / .- / .- (penguin anticipatory archive) and doing so that (tie a knot in it, the world is a handkerchief, a pile of promises), a participatory exchange project. On the wall was a small version of herethere (abovebelow).