Fresh Cut 2002

Institute of Modern Art Brisbane 16 March - 27 April

If the works included in Fresh Cut 2002 share a number of conceptual commonalties, their ends and finish vary dramatically. Read against Bianca Cavalliotis' advanced investigation of phenomenal anomalies, Deborah Redwood's scrapbook-style mounting of argument appears unresolved. Honest in its attempt to scrutinise the corporate news media, the piece's literal, museum-style display smacks too much of a show-and-tell session for comfort. In contrast, Cavalliotis' Containers - comprised of fourteen miniature glass houses, each with its own mixed-media diorama to view inside - has itself the feel of an anomaly. One house shows a man belittled by a white amorphous blob; its stain uncanny and its presence unspeakable. Each diorama has a similar feel of magic suffocation; of the heavy workings of poetic synthesis.

Justin Kuo, Lisa MacDermott and Eun Ju (Natalie) Lee are figurative painters working with the alienated identity as subject. Kuo presents the figure submerged in a hyperreal zone of mutated tourist iconography, natural viciousness and hysterical alien visions; here we see a man and a koala taking a bath in the midst of a bush fire, there a lost male mothers a koala, his eyes fixated on a distant UFO.
MacDermott's Dermis, Epidermis consists of five monumental portraits of women executed in harsh, industrial paints. Each bears the blueprints of some future cosmetic operation; here a dotted line of incision, there a numeral suggesting a sequence of surgical events. Natalie Lee's self-portraits depict similarly obscured figures; one with its head cropped off, another holding her face in her hands, another with her back to the viewer. All are rendered in a shadowy fashion, the sheen of the base-fabric shining through to give the painted surface the transitory feel of the photographic image in development.

Incorporating wall-work, video projection, sound recording and inflatable furniture, Daniel Sala's Cosmic Physiology utilises the corporeal potential of sound and vision to disorientating effect. With a mind to exposing what curator David Broker describes as 'the interface between body and technology,' Sala synaesthetically reflects the properties of each media in the other via a series of audio-visual puns. Though the effects fail to approach those associated with Gysin and Burroughs' famed beat-innovation, the Dreammachine - namely, an hypnotic state approaching narcotic stupor - the installation does alert the viewer's liminal sensibilities to a minor degree. No less impressive is Tara Pattenden's hilarious P.U.R.P. installation.
Comprised of five television monitors, each screening a video loop sampled from various self-help products, Pattenden plunges the viewer into the idiotic ecstasy of the bad joke repeated ad nauseum. 'No,' says one talking head, again and again. 'Let me get back to you,' says another... and so the denial of closure continues across each screen; each head refusing the other and the viewer respectively. Marta Kawka's convoluted CD-ROM installation, the GUT gEZX of the sfod, is both a game-like investigation of creative synthesis and an exercise in viewer-object interactivity. 'Players' are directed by the science-fictitious sfod to manipulate on-screen icons for unbeknown reasons, the effects of doing so being equally mysterious.

Jarren Borghero's photographic series, Your 15 Minutes is Up, pictures the artist engaged in various acts of showering, eating and ablution accompanied by the presence of some defiling consumer item or other. Thus an equation of excretory and consumptive pleasures is suggested, which, albeit old news, still nauseates in this instance. Amanda Cuyler's investigation of corporeality is played altogether differently. On a monitor installed below a bench press we see the face of an exercising Arnold Schwarzenegger, silenced and cold in its looped reproduction. The felt absence of the movie-star's comic-book physicality is disconcerting, and for a moment it's as though the steely machine has usurped his body.

In a show thus predominated by identity-driven artwork, the more formal contributions of Christopher Bennie, Shaun O'Conner and Linda Ault are refreshing. Re-presenting found marks via their photography and subsequent translation in paint, O'Conner defies time in restaging the spontaneous gesture. Bennie's car-portraits, however, do little more than juxtapose the perfection of manufactured automobiles with the looseness of the painterly brushstroke. My Successes, My Failures comprises three, loosely-executed large-scale paintings in this anthropomorphic vein. The final contribution to Fresh Cut 2002 is Linda Ault's Reflections on a Journey; an artist's book of abstract, black-ink prints. We feel this hefty book captures the passage of time; its presence bearing witness to the movement of a present-now-past. Before these prints we are transfixed in the moment, saturated in the enjoyment of contemplating death.

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