Melbourne | September 2017
Gabrielle Amodeo | Ruby Joy Eade | Yolunda Hickman
Communication is play. Like playing a fish on a line, we reel it towards us and play it out in a tug-o’-war of understanding. Like a game, we play at communicating, observing rules and noticing when the rules are broken. We play a role when we communicate, taking on positions and personas. As with a machine, communication has a degree of play or give or slack in the spaces that mechanisms of understanding move through or operate in. And communication is flickering and fleeting, sometimes entirely ungraspable, like the play of light.
Ruby Joy Eade’s work explores connections between empathy and communication, inter-personal relationships, and the vernacular languages of public and private spaces. Eade’s work sets up a two-part query: in a time when data and content grows exponentially around you, how does one make sense of it all? And where is a place that simultaneously offers anonymity alongside the promise of a response in times of desperation? When everything seems too much, there is a comfort in the online forums; scrolling through the stories like yours as well as posting your own cries for help. Eade categorises, organises and distills the chaos of these online worlds. The sculptural text works He said she said and Collected works gathers and massages text from internet relationship and advice forums. Intimate stories anonymously shared online are met with a calculated system where Eade pulls apart the components of narrative into different groupings based on word/phrase type and function. The resulting lists, absurdly long, tumble to the floor and collide back together, returning to emotive chaos.
In Intimacy and the presence tense: iteration 9, through the performance and resulting trace objects installed in the gallery Gabrielle Amodeo embodies the role of storyteller. Seemingly unrelated objects are woven together through language and anecdotes shared by the artist. Intimacy and the presence tense: iteration 9, builds each time the work is shared, following in folkloric traditions with each retelling changing the story itself; as a reflection of communication as a malleable and imperfect form that can define meaning as much as convey meaning. Amodeo acts as travel guide through words and experience: she conjugates the verb ‘to love’ to explore the phrase as a collation of concepts, translated and explored through essaying, stacked booked spines, shared messages, shared experiences and a story of thievery connecting an ink drawing of a fish to Damien Hirst’s formaldehyde tank, printed three times, annotated once. Through communicative repetition and repositioning, revolving non-lineal narratives address the same things said in different ways slightly shifts the meaning of the story each time.
Cutwork is an on-going series of watercolour and gouache paintings by Yolunda Hickman. Constructed by layering children’s stencils, the images are obliterated through stacking of space and filled with clashing form and colour: dinosaurs disappear into Noveau-style roses, Chinoiserie motiffs in teal and red throw out spaceships, blushing tie-die designs frame a tiger form. Pattern is used as a compositional device to imply continuing forms which are then disrupted by content, in turn upsetting the pictorial space. En masse, Hickman’s paintings push and pull between different states, resisting being pinned down: their frieze-like configuration acknowledges the decorative—and they are beautiful—but also too reckless in their colliding patterns and colours to be simply decorative; their pictorial spaces are flattened but somehow three-dimensional; they are elegant despite the child-like motifs. The paintings play form against content to subvert semiotic expectations of image construction, and how a viewer discerns meaning in images: the signal from the noise.
Passed , repeating last : was a group exhibition at Gallery 2 (Five Walls), addressing the boundaries of communication. Ruby Joy Eade, Yolunda Hickman and Gabrielle Amodeo have practices rooted in the operations of communication, and each reworks found elements—whether they be language or object. Using systems, formulas, tasks and performance, the artists revel in the play found in the human necessity to communicate with one another.
Photographs by Brent Edwards