Nov 26, 2014

SAWTOOTH REVIEW #13

It Is Not It That We See
Curated by Liam James (ACT)
Sawtooth ARI, Front Gallery
4 July - 26 July 2014
Review by: Brigitte Trobbiani
Photography by: Mel De Ruyter

Three months on and I still think of Liam James curated exhibition, “It Is Not It That We See”. Even though it was presented in the July of this year, James’ curatorial approach and the works themselves still cross my mind.

 Prior to enrolling into the Bachelor of Contemporary Arts degree (I really just enrolled to avoid exams so that I could travel to Japan), I wasn’t really exposed to the dialogues, interactions and notions of Contemporary arts. Sure, I had been exposed to art and design, mainly the latter but really, the industry is still new to me. I’m still learning.

 “It Is Not It That We See” was a curatorial project by Liam James featuring the mixed-medium work of artists from Tasmania and Victoria. Collectively, the works could be best described as the collation of emerging and established artist’s representations of space, place and self.

 Photographs constituted much of the exhibition’s content, featuring an elaborate display of portraiture, landscape and still-life elements which aimed to portray more about the artist’s themselves than the title-boards present.

 On two plinths sit curved two photographs of a farmhouse, pinned to the wall are iconic Hobart landmarks (a giant hedge, a swirly overpass), a Hello Kitty ‘cake decal’ rests diagonally against the back wall. There are detailed portraits of a man in a Brisbane Lions Guernsey next to my favourite; a photograph of a sculptural pink figure that represents a mound. Fluffy, course, pastel and soft.

The exhibition was installed in the Front Gallery, the largest of the spaces at Sawtooth ARI, hung using the pre-existing space alongside the use of plinths and the largest of the works, hanging from the trusses of the space. The work hung from the ceiling was perhaps the most impactful in terms of redefining the space itself, while recognizing and portraying the still life to the viewer.

The exhibition was a successful culmination of mixed medium, varied presentation and expansive representation of content. And while it’s often easiest to congratulate the artists in relevance to the show, it seems timely and appropriate to really regard James’s careful consideration as the fleshy ‘meat’ behind the show. The curating process itself (from the consideration of works themselves to the hanging and arrangement) was cleverly depicted in such a way that a certain atmosphere and energy was created in the Front Gallery.

 An exciting representation of both emerging artists come established artists was exhibited within the show. There was an explicable excitement accompanying the works themselves; the arrangement was exciting (helping to represent the artworks, while redefining the space at Sawtooth), collectively the content captured a familiar topic or theme (space, place, self) and yet, the presentation of each of the works made an old muse seem brand new, desirable even.

Personally the show “It Is Not It That We See” is memorable. James’s curating approach helped to realize that perhaps the standard framed artworks on the wall wasn’t the only way to present works, outside of the standard ‘sit on a plinth’ approach. The artworks singularly were strong but perhaps may not have been so well received if they weren’t accompanied by the pieces next to them. Creating an energy transcending from the artworks themselves was of great significance to my experience of the show as a both a viewer and learning creative.

 I’m new to the industry and I’m still learning but July’s Front Gallery exhibition, “It Is Not It That We See” curated by Liam James is of great weight to my learning.