Flux2: New Art from Western Australia Brendan Van Hek, Ben Sullivan, Bennett Miller, Helen Smith, Pilar Mata Dupont and Tarryn Gill Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, Perth 18 September - November 2005
It used to be that a world in flux was an anxious thing. Not any more – now it provides a stable and readily recognisable thematic through which to present new work. The continuous movement and the comings and goings of the modern world constitute the material basis for Flux 2.
Following on from the success of Flux in 2003, for Flux 2 John Barrett-Lennard brings together six local emerging artists – Brendan Van Hek, Ben Sullivan, Bennett Miller, Helen Smith, Pilar Mata Dupont and Tarryn Gill – under the curatorial guise of up and coming artists who understand that transition and unrest are equally process and subject matter.
The accompanying text suggests that Flux 2 should be viewed as experimental, but much of the work exists very much in its own space, in a finished space. As such, any anxiety that could have been created through a dialogue between the works retreats, as does any tension associated with the concept of flux.
Despite this, there is plenty of depth in the works themselves. Pilar Mata Dupont and Tarryn Gill's wonderfully cheesy and yet somehow completely serious and at times sinister Heart of Gold project was a delight. The projected performance piece, performed as a musical chorus line number, has a war theme with a soundtrack including old favourites like Roll Out the Barrel. Pastiche in flavour, contemporary in subject matter, this treatment of sanguine propaganda is cutting satire at its best.
Unlike the other artists, Ben Sullivan's work is chopped up and placed around the gallery in some form of dialogue with the other works. Perhaps this is a play on the title of the main part of his work, Lurkers. Sullivan has a great eye and his photographs lift the normality of their subject matter into an antagonistic space.
His flat photographs of punters up against the wall at a buck's night are disquieting; the groom in particular looks a little worse for wear. In Sullivan the night tourist lives on, his shots of pool starting blocks in the dark and the ubiquitous empty train station are crisply composed, heavy and weighty but completely at home with the transient nature of their surroundings.
Helen Smith's photographs find a sensitive beauty in seamless transience. Her photographs for Flux 2 allude to brief and passing relationships in spaces built specifically for flow-through traffic. The images of premises in the infamous Hay Street, Kalgoorlie are gorgeous and bring a feminine touch and indeed a different perspective to the oldest profession in town.
In the adjoining space, Brendan Van Hek pulls apart the absurdity of racial demographics through a rather extensive and misleading colour-coded mapping of population movement. The flux of human movement across the globe has been a consistent theme in art of the last twenty years, but Van Hek's take on the improbability of conjuring a mathematical mapping of this flow reflects an aware, dry wit.
His work is a unique conjoining of graphic illustration, painting and the serious contextual business of mapping ideas. Bennett Miller continues to build his interactive mappings as well. In his case these maps come in the form of religious theme mini-golf holes. Miller's mappings posit some serious flaws in global politics and land grabbing with an equally easy answer to these issues: putt putt.
Flux 2, despite its manufactured feel, gives us a good look at some of the 'new' talent coming out of Perth's art education institutions. It is also a timely reminder of the variation and uniqueness of Western Australian art. Emerging Perth artists seem to relish a personal type of work that sits well in – but well enough out of – global trends.