JG Ballard’s post-apocalyptic novel, The Drowned World was written in 1962 during the Cold War, yet it reads like a prescient vision of our current climate crisis.
As a bridge between the end-of-the world fears of the recent past and current anxieties, The Drowned World is a potentially rich source of inspiration for contemporary artists.
In the group exhibition, Mapping The Drowned World, six Australian artists respond to thought provoking themes and imagery from Ballard’s novel.
Mapping The Drowned World
Coordinated by Tracey Clement
8-31 October 2015
Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney, Balmain Road, Rozelle
Hours: Monday to Friday 11am-5pm; Saturday 11am to 4pm
Opening night: 7 October 6-8pm
‘Soon it would be too hot.’
This is the first line of J.G. Ballard’s sci-fi novel, The Drowned World.
My current PhD research is driven by the key question: In what ways have contemporary artists responded to Ballard’s novel and what issues do they raise?
With this in mind, I have invited 5 Australian artists: Gosia Wlodarczak, Jon Cattapan, Janet Tavener, Roy Ananda and Kate Mitchell, to join me in making artwork in response to imagery and themes found in The Drowned World (TDW).
This group exhibition, Mapping The Drowned World, will be held at SCA Galleries: October 8-31, 2015.
Opening: Wednesday, October 7, 6-8pm.
Written in 1962, during the perpetual slow-burning crisis of the Cold War, The Drowned World reads like a prescient vision of climate change.
As a bridge between the post-war apocalyptic fears of the recent past and current eschatological anxieties, The Drowned World (TDW) is a potentially rich source of inspiration for contemporary artists.
The work in progress above is my second response to this novel. The first can be seen here.
Big isn’t always better
Plastic City represents the annual consumption of one individual. The miniature buildings are made from every plastic container I bought during 2010; they were stored instead of recycled.
The vaguely sci-fi style of the mini city’s ‘architecture’ is an invitation to think about the future. Plastic City embodies a number of timely questions about the types of cities we want to live in, sustainable practice in urban environments and personal responsibility.
Visitors should leave asking themselves, “How big would my Plastic City be?” In this case, bigger isn’t better.
Plastic City highlights the fact that recycling is not enough. We need to choose items that aren’t heavily packaged. We need to use less and re-use, not just recycle.
Plastic City was constructed on site over a week at Articulate Project Space, June 19-24, 2012.
The public were invited to visit during the making process and helped to ‘recycle’ the work at the closing event.
In 1+1+=1, I have taken these drawings and reinterpreted them in embroideries (one of the several traditional “women’s work” skills handed down to me by my Mother) and digital prints.
I have also animated three of the drawings using very simple techniques including the construction of handmade flip-books and praxinoscopes.
1+1=1 was a solo exhibition at James Dorahy Project Space, Sydney.
Photos: Embroideries photographed by Richard Glover. Flip-books, praxinoscopes and installation shots by Tracey Clement.
The target is an almost irresistible graphic image. All those concentric rings create a mesmerising visual vortex, drawing the eye dead centre, sucking you in. No wonder the target is a perennial favourite of both pop artists and marketing gurus. The target is also an iconic symbol of man-made violence.
The targets in Paper Trail are part of my ongoing project which explores the toxic legacy of the Enlightenment: the dangerous notion that it is both possible and desirable to dominate nature.
Using a razor blade, outlines of vines and vermin are ‘drawn’ onto ready-made targets, then allowed to spiral out. Breaching the picture plane and occupying 3D space, these organic forms embody nature’s vitality and patient omnipotence.
Paper Trail was first shown as a solo exhibition in 2008, at Peloton, Sydney. In 2009, several of the works were showcased in the emerging artists exhibition, Off the Wall, Art Melbourne, Royal Exhibition Building, Melbourne. They were exhibited in 2009 in Tracey Clement: Recent(Hard)Work, Elements Art Gallery, Perth, WA.
Photos: Richard Glover.
Post Premonitionism: What do you do when you have already seen the future? In 1962, JG Ballard’s book, The Drowned World, was a prescient warning; wilfully ignored.
Forty five years later, the causes may be different, but we seem to be spiralling into an ecological melt-down straight out of Ballard’s vision. What do you do when you have already seen the future? Apparently nothing.
In Post Premonitionism, fragile steel structures seem to mimic the skeletal remains of an abandoned city. Twisted, rusty and ephemeral, they eventually will disintegrate completely, vulnerable and helpless against nature’s inexorable power.
I have transposed Ballard’s premonition of The Drowned World on to the reality of Australia; salt takes the place of water in a continent characterised by drought.
Post Premonitionism was a site-specific installation at Groundfloor Gallery, Balmain in 2007. It was my second solo exhibition with the gallery.
Photos: Details 1, 2, 4 & 5, Richard Glover. Details 3, 6 & 7 & installation shots, Tracey Clement.
Borders are highly charged zones electrified by tension and the possibility of transgression and transformation.
Boundaries are liminal edges; cross the line and something will happen.
Whether you move from one country to another, step from a private place into the public arena, penetrate someone’s personal space, or flaunt a social taboo; breeching a border is a point of transition. Because of this borders are seductive, they exert an almost magnetic pull.
Border Zones explores intimate boundaries and the heady combination of intimacy and anxiety that surrounds them.
Border Zones consists of two sculptures: Border Zones (seven life-sized tulle figures) and Perimeter (a double blanket made from thread, buttons and pins).
The lifesize ‘skins’ comment on the notion that the body is like a garment that can be nipped and tucked in the quest for (unobtainable) perfection.
Perimeter highlights the fragility and danger of intimate relationships.
The work was first shown in 2005, in the Post Graduate Degree Show, SCA. In 2006, an expanded version of Border Zones became my first solo exhibition at Groundfloor Gallery, Sydney. In 2009, the work formed part of my solo show, Tracey Clement: Recent(Hard)Work at Elements Art Gallery, Perth, WA.
Photos: Tracey Clement
Post-it was a group exhibition which I coordinated as an unofficial satellite event of the Biennale of Sydney, 2006.
Post-it was a mail art project based on the surrealist game, ‘The Exquisite Corpse’.
102 artists participated. Each artist drew one section of a figure on a folded sheet, the page was then posted to the next artist. There are 3 artists per page (head, torso, legs) and 34 finished art works.
Each artist donated their work. The finished pieces were sold by silent auction and all the proceeds went to charity.
Post-it was exhibited at Peloton, Sydney, Australia, June 1-July 1, 2006.
Photos: Tracey Clement.
Shrapnel is evidence of damage incurred in battle. Worn on the outside of the body, instead of lodged within, these jagged pieces of stainless steel are testament to injuries survived and obstacles overcome: physical, emotional or spiritual. To use a cliché, ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ Trite perhaps, but true.
Shrapnel is a series of adornments for the body which ironically reference military forms: chain-mail armour, bandoliers, sashes, medals, ribbons and badges of honour.
Originally conceived for an anti-war medal project, these jewels can also commemorate scars received from more metaphysical events.
The Shrapnel brooches were shown in Anti-War Medals in 2003 at Velvet da Vinci, San Francisco, Ca, USA and in 2004 at Electrum, London, UK.
Shrapnel was part of SafARI in 2006, a satellite event of the Biennale of Sydney.
Photos: Tracey Clement.
Ravelled and unravelled. Memories, like old jumpers, unravel with time. They become frayed and worn. They become holey and permeable, prone to getting tangled up with each other. Memories unravel and ravel.
Circular history: rings of a tree, layers of accumulated history, memories evoked by familiar garments, unravelled and ravelled, round and round, circular, cyclical, continuous.
ravelled/unravelled (circular history) was made from 54 second-hand jumpers, unpicked and rewound.
It won the People’s Choice Award at the 2003 Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize and was also exhibited at Gallery 4A in 2004 and in 2005 at Sherman Galleries in Sydney, Australia before being acquired by a private collector.
Something is going to happen. An implement implies action. It is used. An implement does something. However, it cannot do anything on its own. It is only by interaction with a person that it can fulfill its function. When you look at an implement you know that it is meant to be held and used. There is an implied physical contact and a latent history of activity.
An implement does something, but does that something have to be physical? These works investigate the idea that tools can serve a purpose other than the purely mechanical.
Perhaps an implement can perform a cathartic function: it not only slices and dices, it mends a broken heart. Maybe the long sought after ‘attitude adjuster’ is something you can hold in your hand. Or imagine if the tool you are holding could change shape or mutate to reflect the mood you are in. It could act as a signal to others, a means of non verbal communication in intimate relationships.
Implements was first shown in 1998 as one of the inaugural exhibitions at Object Galleries, Sydney, Australia.
The spanners were shown as a window installation, As Seen on TV, in the 1998 Walking the Streets at the Mitre 10, Newtown, NSW.
In 2000, the series was exhibited as Utility at the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, NZ.
Photos: Pink photos by Tandy Rowley, photographer unknown for installation in NZ, other photos by Tracey Clement.