women with fringes etc.
14th May – 18th June 2022
Anna Schwartz Gallery
Now it is a story of a girl who is looking for herself, is abandoning art meanwhile, is trying to find ways of living that are artlike but are not art, can’t find the answer for how to make art that is not art while at home, so goes away and travels around the world to try and figure it out, but nothing is happening there, either … the girl returns, is broke, starts working in a hair salon when she meets a hairdresser who is so impressive to her … and she realizes this is what she wants to be, a master of her craft, so she quits the salon and returns to art with the knowledge of where and how and in what direction to go.
The sentence is cut from Shelia Heti’s autofictional serial, A Diary in Alphabetical Order, published by The New York Times, 2022. Using fragments of life taken from her own diaries, Heti wrote a narrative, a fiction. So too, Lauren Brincat’s artmaking takes pieces from life to represent the feeling of living.
In Brincat’s fiction the title, women with fringes etc., is cut from a judgey conjunction: a phrase she found in a letter, a letter she can’t remember how she found. Sent on 15 May 1973 (forty-nine years before Brincat’s show opens), a male painter in Japan writes to a female friend back in Sydney, describing ‘…women with fringes etc. but rather compelling work…’. Brincat makes space for these women. Her work is an echo of their presence.
We enter backstage. Pass a banner and a poster whose hands gesture to us. Walk towards the stage – the curtains are not drawn. No longer a painter who paints, Brincat has made curtains from drop sheets collected from museums and galleries, which she drapes with coloured canvas. Incorporating drops of colour that are not the artist’s own, Backstage (2022) traces the (emotional) labour of artmaking. The artist is present in the folds of the fabric through the work of her hands.
The hand exercises on Brincat’s poster invite us to perform. With each movement, Egyptian Postures (2022) (another borrowed title) re-enacts early Bauhaus practices that couple colour theory with spirituality. Here, Brincat has personalised both title and gestures: the Egyptian hands are the artist’s grandmother’s, reincarnated through her own. ‘I see her hands when I make,’ she explains. We try to read what these motioning hands have to say.
Behind us, the entrance banner takes its title from a sad song. In shards of red and white, Wild is the Wind (2022) scores Nina Simone’s sound into colour. By preferencing the senses, Brincat connects colour and emotion, giving form to intuition.
The title and the drop sheets, the gestures with the song – the artist draws together fragments to make a whole. Taken from life, the pieces connect as if to make sense of living. The feeling of trusting and not trusting. The feeling of seeing but also blankness. Knowing but doubting.
From the poster we talk with our hands, from the banner we listen with our eyes. Invited on stage, we are performers rather than spectators. By inverting experiences, Brincat explains the world through feeling. For her, living is artmaking, and art is lifelike. Borrowing from Heti, we’re not ‘to live according to images but according to time. Not to live according to story but according to feelings.’
Aarna Fitzgerald Hanley is Curator of Programs at Carriageworks.
 Sheila Heti, “Not Enough Brains to Distribute among Us Humans,” The New York Times (online), 23 February, 2022. Part 6 of a 10 part, Heti, S., A Diary in Alphabetical Order, published weekly from 19 January, 2022.
 Ian Whittlesea, The Egyptian Postures (London: The Everyday Press, 2017).
 Heti, “Not Enough Brains to Distribute among Us Humans.”