Brook Andrew, Daniel Boyd, Gor­don Ben­nett, Michael Cook, Des­tiny Dea­con, Ricar­do Ida­gi, Danie Mel­lor, Tracey Mof­fatt, Dar­ren Siwes, Chris­t­ian Thomp­son, War­wick Thorn­ton, Nawu­ra­pu Wunung­mur­ra, R E A
Debil Debil

20th April – 6th July 2013
Anna Schwartz Gallery Carriageworks

When Debil Debil opened in April 2013, it was twen­ty years since Tracey Moffatt’s fea­ture film, beDev­il, first screened in Aus­tralia. It was a rev­o­lu­tion­ary work of cin­e­mat­ic art that told three sto­ries of ghost­ly char­ac­ters liv­ing with, and in between the present, and the past. Its pres­ence in this exhi­bi­tion marks a point in our his­to­ry. Since then, con­cep­tu­al art work that tack­les dif­fi­cult mat­ters of his­to­ry and the self has flourished.

The artists and film­mak­ers who have con­tributed to Debil Debil’ have each tack­led the prob­lem­at­ic pres­ence of the ghosts of the past in a dis­tinc­tive and pow­er­ful way, draw­ing unique­ly on Aus­tralian his­to­ry, colo­nial tropes, land­scapes, our fam­i­lies of fau­na and flo­ra, indige­nous his­to­ry, feel­ing, and dis­turb­ing visions that reach into our lives.

The title, Debil Debil’, is a ref­er­ence to sev­er­al char­ac­ter­is­tics of the work of this group. We have observed with great inter­est that the sub­jects of many of their works are recog­nis­ably char­ac­ters from the dark past of fron­tier anthro­pol­o­gy and his­to­ry in Aus­tralia, some­times human, some­times ances­tral, but always car­ry­ing mul­ti­ple mean­ings. The pow­er of these works is that, while appear­ing to ref­er­ence a very mod­ern present, they glance back, cre­at­ing a ten­sion, anx­i­ety or a lack of res­o­lu­tion; and all the while show­ing what is and might have been. Their work delves into the past to res­ur­rect not just his­to­ry or ghosts, but rein­ter­pre­ta­tions of the self, place and the present, and grand visions.

Art breaks the bound­aries of real­i­ty, or, at least, per­me­ates them, cre­at­ing fuzzy entries and exits to and from places in the mind and places in the world around us. In the mar­vel­lous Dic­tio­nary of Imag­i­nary Places, the authors explain some of their dic­ta for care­ful­ly choos­ing places imag­ined in fic­tion rather than mere­ly con­cealed or disguised:

This vic­to­ry of the imag­i­na­tion (or com­mon sense) over duty, over the restric­tions of fac­tu­al truth, is of course rare. The world we call real has dead­locked bound­aries in which the long-estab­lished prin­ci­ple that two bod­ies (let alone two moun­tains) can­not occu­py the same place at the same time is rig­or­ous­ly observed.”[i]

Artists, how­ev­er, are able to per­suade us of the exis­tence of phe­nom­e­na that lie beyond the bound­aries of ordi­nary per­cep­tion and it is the imag­ined world, sum­moned from Australia’s ancient past by some of the heirs of its unique philoso­phies that we hope to cap­ture in this exhi­bi­tion. The evo­ca­tion of emo­tion­al states and vari­eties of states of being, the imag­i­na­tion of the oth­er; all of these are mys­te­ri­ous­ly sensed’ and some­thing oth­er than the mere­ly phys­i­cal in our being is called upon in the work of see­ing’ art. Dar­ren Siwes says this so well: I see my work resid­ing some­where between the truth and a hypothetical.”

The artists respond­ed to our invi­ta­tion bril­liant­ly. The works give us a sense that we are knock­ing at the door of the great unknown with lit­tle expec­ta­tion of an answer. Yet, the dead speak. Lacan reminds us, Now the real prob­lem with the dead is that you can­not shut them up.” [ii]

War­wick Thorn­ton has imag­ined a priest, a cow­boy and a police­man, but not as we have ever seen them before. They rise up out of his being and his home­land as colo­nial and post­colo­nial ghosts. In Michael Cook’s work, Abo­rig­i­nal Aus­tralians are dressed in the fash­ions of four Euro­pean coun­tries that vis­it­ed Aus­tralia before and in the ear­ly stages of colo­nial­i­sa­tion: Spain, The Nether­lands, Eng­land and France. Cook asks what makes a per­son civilised?’ His imag­ined his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ters speak to this ques­tion with wit and charm. Brook Andrew prob­lema­tis­es space and time. Not all is seri­ous, how­ev­er. Des­tiny Deacon’s undead char­ac­ters speak to her mem­o­ry of her broth­er in child­hood and his fear of vam­pires. Sib­ling stalk­ing is as much a fam­i­ly tra­di­tion as any oth­er and deserves to be the sub­ject of art.

There is much to be inves­ti­gat­ed in the works in Debil Debil’. Brook Andrew, Gor­don Ben­nett, Daniel Boyd, Michael Cook, Des­tiny Dea­con, Ricar­do Ida­gi, Danie Mel­lor, Tracey Mof­fatt, rea, Dar­ren Siwes, Chris­t­ian Thomp­son, War­wick Thorn­ton, and Nawu­ra­pu Wunung­mur­ra: they have shared them­selves, the char­ac­ters and places from their her­itage, and re-enchant­ed our world.

Mar­cia Lang­ton AM

[i] As cit­ed in, David L. Clark, Schelling and Roman­ti­cism. Mourn­ing Becomes The­o­ry: Schelling and the Absent Body of Phi­los­o­phy, McMas­ter Uni­ver­si­ty; URL accessed 25 June, 2005

[ii] Manguel, Alber­to, and Gian­ni Guadalupi. The Dic­tio­nary of Imag­i­nary Places. New York, Har­court, Brace, Jovanovich, 1980.

Images

Debil Debil, 2013
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
curat­ed by Mar­cia Lang­ton AM

Debil Debil, 2013
instal­la­tion view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks
curat­ed by Mar­cia Lang­ton AM

Nawu­ra­pu Wunungmurra

Mokuy, 2011
Bronze
Dimen­sions variable

War­wick Thornton

Unti­tled 1, 2013
Pig­ment prints
2 parts: 100100 cm; 14.814.8 cm

War­wick Thornton

Unti­tled 2, 2013
Pig­ment prints
2 parts: 100100 cm; 14.814.8 cm

War­wick Thornton

Unti­tled 3, 2013
Pig­ment prints
2 parts: 100100 cm; 14.814.8 cm

Dar­ren Siwes

Gud­jerie Kwin, 2013
Giclée Print on Kodak Lus­tre, framed
137.5117 cm

Dar­ren Siwes

Nor­thie Kwin, 2013
Giclée Print on Kodak Lus­tre, framed
137.5117 cm

Dar­ren Siwes

Jingli Kwin, 2013
Giclée Print on Kodak Lus­tre, framed
137.5117 cm

Tracey Mof­fatt

beDev­il, 1993
35 mm fea­ture film, screen­ing for­mat DVD
90 minutes

Ricar­do Idagi

False Evi­dence Appear­ing Real, 2012
Earth­en­ware clay, under glaze, wood, steel, plas­tic and glass
603727 cm

Danie Mel­lor

Bayi Minyjir­ral, 2013
Mixed media on paper
9 pan­els; each 100120 cm. Over­all 300360 cm

R E A

Pole­sApart 4, 2009
Pho­to­graph­ic trip­tych mount­ed on foamcore
3 parts; 10092 cm; 100110 cm; 10092 cm

Chris­t­ian Thompson

He’s Learn­ing The Language, 2013
Cast resin
605050 cm

Chris­t­ian Thompson

For­give­ness Of Land, 2013
C‑type print on Fuji pearl metal­lic paper, framed
104.3104.3 cm

Chris­t­ian Thompson

Ener­gy Matter, 2012
C‑type print on Fuji pearl metal­lic paper, framed
104.3104.3 cm

Chris­t­ian Thompson

Lament­ing the Flowers, 2012
C‑type print on Fuji pearl metal­lic paper, framed
104.3104.3 cm

Chris­t­ian Thompson

Dan­ger Will Come, 2012
C‑type print on Fuji pearl metal­lic paper, framed
104.3104.3 cm

Chris­t­ian Thompson

Three Sis­ters, 2012
C‑type print on Fuji pearl metal­lic paper, framed
104.3104.3 cm

Chris­t­ian Thompson

Desert Mel­on, 2012
C‑type print on Fuji pearl metal­lic paper, framed
104.3104.3 cm

Chris­t­ian Thompson

Invad­ed Dreams, 2012
C‑type print on Fuji pearl metal­lic paper, framed
104.3104.3 cm

Chris­t­ian Thompson

Down Under World, 2012
C‑type print on Fuji pearl metal­lic paper, framed
104.3104.3 cm

Brook Andrew

TIME I, 2012
Mixed media on Bel­gian linen
2202975 cm

Brook Andrew

TIME II, 2012
Mixed media on Bel­gian linen
1172195 cm

Brook Andrew

TIME III, 2012
Mixed media on Bel­gian linen
3101505 cm

Brook Andrew

TIME IV, 2012
Mixed media on Bel­gian linen
3002385 cm

Brook Andrew

TIME V, 2012
Mixed media on Bel­gian linen
1271725 cm

Brook Andrew

TIME VI, 2012
Mixed media on Bel­gian linen
1801805 cm

Des­tiny Deacon

Blaku­la Ris­ing (A), 2011
Inkjet print from dig­i­tal image on archival paper, framed
50.5123 cm

Des­tiny Deacon

Blaku­la Ris­ing (B), 2011
Inkjet print from dig­i­tal image on archival paper, framed
98122.5 cm

Des­tiny Deacon

Blakula’s daugh­ter and Joey, 2011
Inkjet print from dig­i­tal image on archival paper, framed
122.597 cm

Des­tiny Deacon

Blaku­la and daughter, 2011
Inkjet print from dig­i­tal image on archival paper, framed
122.597 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #1, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #2, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #3, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #4, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #5, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #6, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #7, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #8, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #9, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #10, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #11, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #12, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #13, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Michael Cook

Civilised #14, 2012
Inkjet print on paper, framed
125111 cm

Gor­don Bennett

Abstrac­tion (Colonist), 2011
Acrylic on linen
182.5152 cm

Daniel Boyd

Unti­tled (est 1892), 2013
Oil and archival glue on board
6040 cm

Daniel Boyd

Unti­tled (Lift Up Thy Prayer For The Rem­nant That Is Left), 2013
Oil and archival glue on polyester
196300 cm