Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dead Hare Melbourne Art Review


Anthropomorphisation. Its what happens when you're stuck on a desert island in the middle of the ocean with only a volley ball smeared in your own blood(1) or a coconut headed pop-star for a friend(2). Its born out desperation, loneliness, and n-n-nervousness. As human beings, we need companionship, even if it is imaginary. No man is an island(3)... especially if they're on one.

Tom Hanks and Wilson (above),
Milky Joe (below).

Solo shows can be isolating, soul bearing, no one else's work or ideas to hide behind. Kirsten Perry disperses the anxiety in a number of ways for her own solo exhibition N-N-NERVOUS at No No Gallery (or, as I had begun referring to it: N-N-NERVOUS at N-N-No No Gallery).

One way to side step around anxiety is to disperse the burden to others, preferably fictional anthropomorphised sea gulls (below) who, as the spirit animals of Australian suburbia, are only too happy to absorb any excess negative energy as they mill around smoking. Despite adhering to the cut aesthetics of an Aardman clay stop-motion film, which makes them look like they've flown from the set of the latest Wallace and Gromit(4) movie, there's some dark undertones, namely the cancer causing cigarettes in their beaks and x's for eyes, which in the world of comical cartoons means that a character has died.

Perry infuses the cuteness that's almost always inherent in the act of anthropomophising with bleak humorous satire into almost all the works. She humanises hands (below) fixed in the 'okay' gesture with faces on both sides, making them literally two-faced: one side fixed in cartoon mortis (x'd out eyes, and straight, unmoving lines for mouths), the other side making do with a mouth that's either manically grinning or in wiggle of worry.

Not all the works are operating on such a delicate line opposites. Some cleverly take up residence in being stratified puns. Like the pot plant work title titled 'track suit plant' (below) which has only one letter of difference between the object its been made to resemble: track suit pants. The plant in in the pants is of course a small 'bush'. Perry makes pubic humor public.

The 'Track Suit Plant' also made me think of Wallace and Gromit again, specifically their film 'The Wrong Trousers' in which the plot revolves around the use (and misuse) of a robotic pair or trousers that can be controlled via remote. Perry also pays homage to the Japanese who are gods of anthropomorphising and making ordinary objects super kawaii, by crafting small faces (below) on a tree stump that're reminiscent of the 'tree spirits' from Hayao Miyazaki's 'Princess Mononoke' (5), and like Perrys work in the exhibition, Miyazaki's films often revolve around humanity's relationship to nature, or perhaps I'm reading too much into the coincidences that can arise from the the simplicity and minimalism Perry utilises when creating faces from a mere two circles and a line.

Perry has a wealth of technical and practical skills up her sleeves to manage a range of mediums in order to produce the eclectic collection of work in N-N-NERVOUS: jewelery making, paper mache, clay, drawing, painting, glazing. All these techniques have aided in the creation of Perry's diverse cast of characters.

If you're n-n-nervous, its best to face it (cringe-worthy puns ahoy!).

(1) Robert Zemeckis (Director), 'Castaway' (film), 2000
(2) The Mighty Boosh, 'The Nightmare of Milky Joe' (season 2, episode 6), 2005
(3) John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (Meditation XVII), 1624
(4) Nick Park (creator), Wallace and Gromit
(5) Hayao Miyazaki, 'Princess Mononoke', 1997
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