Hana Aoake – 15 February, 2015
Every so often one of the artists' bodies appears either walking, holding a mirror, performing simple unchoreographed movements, or clinking rocks together. While the soundtrack created by some of these movements directs the viewing, it is also dislocating as the sounds come in and out of sync with the video. The mirror breaks up the frame offering two alternative views of the landscape, one from the position of performers and the other that of the camera.
Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano
Curated by Lauren Gutsell
29 November 2014 - 15 March 2015
Visible structures by Gabriella Mangano and Silvana Mangano at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery has a rhythmic quality which is oddly familiar, yet its enigmatic and interactive curation invites one to investigate the points of intersection between the screens flashing throughout the space. Using a car as their studio, the Manganos spent six weeks of their visiting artist residency in Dunedin travelling around the Otago region.
Attention is often paid to the fact that these two artists are twin sisters. While this clearly influences the work they create together, their work always highlights the intersection of their individual drawing practices. Both artists graduated with Bachelors degrees in Fine arts from the Victorian College of Arts in Melbourne, majoring in drawing.
The exhibition consists of five projected screens fixed in various places throughout the room. Two of these screens are large and dominating, another is double sided and the rest are much smaller. Each of these dissects the space and breaks up the monotony of the gallery’s white cube interior, but also encourages the viewer to interact with the works by walking around each of the screens. Shot primarily in black and white, and often employing coloured filters, the videos take their footage from various locations around the Otago region. They articulate a landscape of curves and lines, both manmade and natural.
Every so often one of the artists’ bodies appears either walking, holding a mirror, performing simple unchoreographed movements, or clinking rocks together. While the soundtrack created by some of these movements directs the viewing, it is also dislocating as the sounds come in and out of sync with the video. The mirror breaks up the frame offering two alternative views of the landscape, one from the position of performers and the other that of the camera. (1)
The sound of the rocks permeates each work, recalling the sound of a clock ticking - and has been juxtaposed with the more sustained hum of a car engine. This adds a tension to the space and makes us think about the way we occupy time. We are made to feel humbled by the relationship between our bodies and the landscapes around us. Upon the completion of each video - when the work is about to reset - the space is plunged into an intense darkness. It is only there, in the ensuing silence, that the mesmerising pace of the installation is fully expressed.
I found myself feeling emotional in the presence of these works. I came back multiple times and often considered the effects of ecological colonisation in Otago, yet I felt so insignificant and appreciative of the cascading majesty of the Otago region, and of New Zealand in its entirety. Some of the scenes also recall Australia, with its vast mountains and eucalyptus trees which make the specific location seem less relevant. The appearance of eucalyptus trees in the landscape perhaps suggests two things: a consolidation of the effects of ecological imperialism, and the artists’ sense of dislocation, discovery and familiarity with this environment.
Visible Structures puts forward the universal ideas of space, time, the body and its relationship to landscape in an imaginative way. The use of space is clever, immersive and to me, very stirring. In an industry dominated by straight, white, male artists and curators it is refreshing to see a show by two women, thoughtfully curated by a woman, Lauren Gutsell. On the opening night of this show, two other shows opened featuring women; Erica Van Zon (also selected for the visiting artist residency) and two previous recipients, Alicia Frankovich (2010) and Fiona Connor (2012). I cannot express how exhilarated I felt after seeing the Mangano show. It was as exciting as when I first saw their work if…so…then (2007) at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane in 2009.
(1) Lauren Gutsell, wall text for Visible Structures, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 2014.