Adelaide Central Gallery 20 August - 12 September 2004
Lost Plot at Adelaide Central gallery reunited Roy Ananda (concurrently featuring with collaborator Julie Robinson in Primavera 2004 at MCA, Sydney), Renate Nisi and Naomi Williamson; three graduates from Adelaide Central School who are currently attracting attention across Australia. 'Lost plot', is a fitting description for the work of these artists. Fitting, not for their practices (success proving they have not lost the plot), but for a style of work that joins a current drift in the art of now; where plots, not all together lost, are obscured and slightly off centre. lost plot then, is a show of play, innuendos, surprises and contradictions, referencing other cultural sources through everyday materials or utilising materials already imbued with boundless associations.
As the show reveals, in contemporary art the scope of materials for an artist given the definition 'sculptor' are limitless, and when as here the focus is on sculptural practice combined with drawing, this is even more evident. But as the naming of the show, the installations and particularly Nisi's combination of form and material reflect, in current art the pre-modern idea of 'sculptor' is there to be (and should be) challenged. Nisi's laboriously shaped Carrara marble oozes down the wall in an illusion of fluidity in I was here #1 and I was here #2. Likewise, in the series With only the walls for company, soft-edged marble emerges from brass pipes as faux thick liquid ready to drip or slip should gravity allow. These works cleverly imbue time-old materials with contemporary associations and cunningly trick perceptions about the solidity of marble.
While Nisi's drawings (watercolour, oxide and graphite on paper) seem distinct from her sculptural works, Williamson's drawings are the crux of her installations. Referencing John Steinbeck's To a God Unknown, Williamson has developed a simple hand-drawn animation (Joe &.. Tree), a site-specific graphite wall drawing (Joseph's tree) and four drawings traced from images of a person and a tree in Joseph's House #1-4. Williamson's uniform use of drawing alludes to an intimate connection between her subjects of people and trees, while the DVD shown on a retro orange HMV nipper television creates an ambient soundtrack and voice to further emphasise this relationship.
Ananda's use of well crafted, site-specific visual puns and intriguing observations are no less than fun. Escape Scenarios 1-3 sees three methods proposed by which to escape the gallery, the drawn sheets strung together looking the best way out. He sets filing cases in a perpetual state of flurry with a haphazard constructed trolley. He replaces the golden label on school-style pencils and reinscribes them with 'scratch, scribe, scribble, scrawl and chew'. And he creates a lampshade landscape marked with what seems an indecipherable topographical code. Finally, in 'exercises for sculptors' (a.k.a artist statement) Ananda lists challenges for artists from 'catching bullets in one's teeth' and 'swinging from chandeliers'. Although lost plot isn't listed, it certainly is a challenge accomplished.