Art is inextricably linked with the notion of form, and as Lawrence Weiner once stated “Art can never be anything else but a specific object! ”. According to Bourriaud, “Forms come into being, from the “deviation” and random encounter between two hitherto parallel elements…Form can be defined as a lasting encounter”. Thus, the human form is merely a lasting encounter, and the subconscious objective of humanity is to preserve that encounter for as long as possible. It thus follows that those forms that exhibit a purist, clean and defined shape and resist decay or contamination invoke a sense of well-being and security in humanity. On the other hand, those forms that exhibit a heterogenous, dirty, dark and entropic form (or formlessness) invoke a sense of fear and insecurity in humanity. However, although one may encounter formlessness with fear, one is nevertheless held bound and mesmerised if not attracted. The desire for self-preservation in humanity is as strong as the desire for annihilation, and to surrender oneself to destruction is a release from the exhaustion of struggle. Thus it is also with surrender to God or another’s will.
Kristian Øverland Dahl, Steinar Kristensen and Clare Milledge worked together on collaborations and group shows in 2006 in Norway, Austria and Sweden. In 2008 The Swamp Age sees the three regroup to collaborate again in an experimental landscape of mutated forms. The Swamp Age will map the transactions of attempted understanding that occur between viewer, artwork and artists.
Dahl is concerned with the way in which we use pathos as a means of engagement within art practice and politics and the trust and value we instill in it. He sees the meaning we impose onto an artwork as a form of pathos. Dahl confronts us on a biblical, political and artistic level, leaving us reconsidering our inherent trust in pathos.
Kristensen exposes the black confusion at the heart of western culture driven by negation. His concern with this constant process of disillusionism often takes the form of fake spectacle, somewhere between the real and the imagined. Like a failed utopian dream, it inevitably becomes over-dramatized bad theatre.
Milledge leads you on a confused and dirty path of signs and symbols revealing the disjointed mental process of attempted cohesion and organisation in our quest for meaning. She exposes our attempts to fuse connections between things that are inevitably only held together by blind faith. Milledge swings wildly and sporadically between constructing pure and reduced forms and muddy complexities, at once announcing clarity, safety and eternal confidence and then darkness, fear and uncertainty.
Clare Milledge Sydney 2008
1. Draft Deceit, (one day seminar), Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Feb 18 2006.
(S.Kristensen in conversation with the Author, Aug 2008).
2. Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics ([France]: Les presses du réel, 2002). P19
image above: The Last Visible Dog: The Black Safety Hole of Dissolution 2008
Karosta (War Port), Latvia
Photograph: Brent Grayburn
This project was sponsored by the Janet Holmes a Court Artists' Grant Scheme, supported through a donation by Mrs Janet Holmes a Court, financial assistance from the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council and administered through NAVA, the National Association for the Visual Arts.
Take Me To Magic Mountain
Take Me To Magic Mountain – a multi-media installation combining theme-park aesthetics, popular psychedelic symbolism of the nineteen seventies and pre-cinematic special effects prevalent amongst conjurors of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The installation playfully realises a union between optical technologies and immersive spectacle ¬– tying illusionism to a spiritual presence.
image: "Mystics In My Garden" part of a series , watercolour 42 x 32cm. 2008
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its art funding and advisory body, and by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian, State and Territory Governments.