17th July – 13th August 2011
Anna Schwartz Gallery
Mikala Dwyer articulates the immaterial; sculpting emptiness, giving charge to spaces, providing the intangible with a plastic form. Crowding the airspace of the gallery, a mass of O‑shaped silver balloons drifts at will, loitering across the ceiling. This floating island of mylar and helium encloses a part of the room that would otherwise be considered empty space: the O‑shapes being the means of language to describe nothing. These objects are clouds, forming an atmosphere; the zero standing in for the void, but here a void with a substance.
A dense copse of wooden structures baffles the passage of the balloons, keeping the zeroes captive. Constructed in timber, painted, and dressed in found and fashioned trinkets: a gleaming Madonna by Joy Bye, ceramics made by Noriko Nakamura, the Lamp sculptures describe immaterial phenomena. These sculptures are at once lights, bird houses, bird feeders, gallows or allusions to “hangman” games, postboxes or non-fertility totems whose functions expand to include anything one might desire of them. Individually, their globes are either too dim or too bright to serve as sources of literal or rational light. These low-lux lights are more appropriately associated with a mystic-sculptural enlightenment, where straightforward readings are fogged-up and conventional meanings dance, allowing new logics to emerge.
Notions of enlightenment also circle around the morphing Square moon peeping and Alphabet for ghosts. Over time, the candles in Square moon peeping will disappear — or rather they will shape-shift, from the cast shape of the candle into the dripped piles of a ‘wax painting’ onto the mirrored perspex. Alphabet for ghosts — a set of 46 painted wooden boards, each bearing one character from the alphabet or digits 0 – 9 — promises every possible combination of words and numbers between the options ‘yes’ and ‘no’; a giant ouija board from which to summon all of the answers to our questions about space and materials. Created by collective Alterbeast (Dwyer, Tina Havelock Stevens, Carla Cescon) with Rolande Souliere, the presence of others within Alphabet for ghosts is not limited to collaborators. Sculpturally and linguistically, the works in The Silvering invoke souls from another realm.
A spirit level hanging prominently from Necklace for wall (copper) alludes to the presence of unexpected or unseen visitors. The shrine-like Necklaces include diverse objects of differing material worth and personal value, the two not necessarily connected. Dwyer’s Necklace for wall sculptures adorn the gallery as ‘architectural jewellery’, giving new significance to assumptions of a given space.
The pair of video works, made by Dwyer in collaboration with Justene Williams, invoke the spirits of Cockatoo Island, where these works were made. Red Rockers and Captain Thunderbolt’s Sisters show the artists engaging in a repetitive but joyful choreography of defiance against the history and character of that place.
Ritualistic and incantatory, Mikala Dwyer’s sculptures are rich in association. The Silvering is a collection of works beguiling in form and elastic in meaning. Named after the process of making glass surfaces into mirror, the exhibition is indeed reflective, each work providing space for the interpretation of combinations of objects and ideas.