Art Built-In South Bank South Bank Parklands 13 September 17 November 2002
The introduction of the Art Built-In policy in 1999 has given rise to a burgeoning public art industry in Queensland. Art Built-In South Bank was a temporary public art project which aimed to involve young artists (that is, artists aged 18-25) in this industry. The same procedures were in place as for other art built-in projects, but the work was intended to remain 'built-in' for a period of two months only.
While one result of this was that few of the works actually looked 'built-in', another was an incidental theme of migration and transience throughout many of the works. Some of the works also referred to the physical environment or history of South Bank. The parklands were constructed as an attempt to hold on to Brisbane's Expo 88 euphoria and find a new use for the site.
Tara Pattenden's Leisure Technology – Showing the World directly referenced this history with a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Expo 88, its theme of 'Leisure in the Age of Technology', and the triumphantly titled 'We Showed the World' closing party. A bank of four video monitors showed a variety of imagery processed through digital and analogue video effects equipment; these visuals demonstrated a sense of nostalgia for the obsolete technology of futures past.
Jemima Wyman's Mutant Water Rats Attack also drew upon the history of South Bank, referencing the importance of water rats to the traditional owners of the land. These water rats, long exiled from the landscaped lawns of South Bank, made their return as mutated, abstract blobs of colour. The piece resembled much of Wyman's work; brightly coloured vinyl constructions, splattered and poured with intensely hued paint. Floating in the Brisbane River, their appearance by the Boardwalk seemed a momentary pause in their journey downstream.
Similarly, Pamela Mei-Leng See's Flying South presented an array of toy planes, seemingly snagged on the Parklands' Arbour in mid-migration. Each plane bore the flag of one of thirty-five countries. While referencing issues of cross-cultural migration, this work also produced a sense of cultural displacement; a vision of migration as being stranded in a strange land.
On a completely different tack, Tim Edser continued his use of the cowboy as a motif, exploring tropes of 'masculinity and manliness'. Edser's Surrender (from the Ride 'em series) presented a showdown between two wooden cut-out cowboys - twenty paces apart and backs to each other, each with their arms raised in surrender. The elevation of these figures (presumably to keep them out of the way and safe from vandalism) had the effect of distancing them from their environment and, perhaps, turning a fun and engaging piece into something of a silent surrender.
In Amanda Cuyler's, planterantlerpilot, a cluster of white, egg-like pods appeared to have landed in the Rainforest Walk, transmitting imagery via a video monitor encased in the central and largest pod. This episodic sequence of videos was a combination of footage shot in and around South Bank itself and existing video works. The editing suggested an attempt to create a contemplative and engaging viewing experience while also catering to a short attention span, with the result functioning as a brief but engaging glimpse into a broader practice.
Luke Jaaniste's Photo Synthesis explored the synthetic nature of South Bank's nature strips in what was the most ephemeral work on show. Using the sort of white spray marker that is used to mark lines on a sporting field, Jaaniste attempted to still a moment of time by tracing the shadows of trees at a particular time of day. The shadows were 'redrawn' three times in the course of the project, as the grass grew and conditions eroded the image.
Responding to the similarities between parkland and domestic landscaping, the dynamic duo of Wilkins Hill placed four kennels in the 'Formal Gardens'. Upon approaching the kennels, motion sensors would illuminate them and the sound of a dog barking would issue forth. The kennels were boarded up and empty, save for bags of dog food and bowls. This was also the most child-friendly work, with children constantly 'playing' with the virtual dogs (the only sort of dogs allowed in South Bank).
Sebastian Moody's Built Under the Sun continued in a similar vein to his anonymous text works around Brisbane. While normally employing a deliberately hand-made look, this project enabled Moody to employ professional painters. This gave the work not only billboard scale, but also a commercial finish. Built Under the Sun, painted on a railway wall facing South Bank, was the only work not removed at the completion of the two months. It is somehow fitting, then, that despite the evident durability of the work, vines were already starting to grow over and through both text and wall by the end of the Art Built-In South Bank project.