PROJECT CONCEPT AND CURATORIAL SUPPORT BY REBECCA ROSS
THE WALLS ART SPACE, MIAMI, GOLD COAST
ESSAY One of my schoolmates had a property out in Beaudesert where we’d test the bravery of our adolescence with motorbikes, guns and alcohol (never at the same time). We learned what hungover was on those car trips home. We learned the heat without a sea breeze. Wonglepong was nothing more than a weird name on a sign. Canungra was the place you stopped for pies and chocolate milk. We figured someone divined the mountain’s winding roads to punish kids like us.
A young boy’s grave lies a couple over from Edwin’s. No palette on a tombstone. No tombstone, no name. Just a handful of cowboys and Indians working together to protect the soil they stand in. The forest green of toy soldiers and the red lining of the numbered birthday candles make me miss Christmas.
We didn’t think about the west growing up. The Gold Coast was a line in the sand, not separating geography, but marking it. A physical and emotional guide of how we travel.
Up and down. Up and down.
Up and down.
— Aaron Chapman, 2018
Local photographer Aaron Chapman responds to watercolourist, Edwin Bode’s artworks in the HOTA (Home of the Arts) Gallery Collection by exploring the identity and landscapes of settlements west of the Pacific Highway, and the notion of there being more to the Gold Coast than just its famous coastline.
Aaron Chapman (b. 1990, Denpasar, Indonesia) is a photographer and writer from the Gold Coast, Australia. After several years travelling and working abroad, he returned to the Gold Coast to complete a Bachelor of Arts at Griffith University. This return home marked the start of his focused storytelling practice and its ongoing development. Chapman now poetically engages the two mediums of photography and writing to create a more intimate sense of place. Currently, he is working on long-term projects documenting his hometown by considering how, as a tourist city, its subcultures and associated stereotypes influence the perception of those who live there permanently.
A joint project with HOTA Gallery. Supported by Shibui Film.
SURF SALON 2018
THE NIGHT WATCH
CURATED BY REBECCA ROSS ESSAY BY ANGELA GODDARD
COMMISSIONED FOR FESTIVAL 2018, GOLD COAST COMMONWEALTH GAMES
THE WALLS ART SPACE AND OFFSITE AT BROADBEACH, ON THE BEACH AT SURF LIFE SAVER TOWER #30
SUPPORTED BY CITY OF GOLD COAST, GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM AND SCREEN QUEENSLAND
Taking its name from a famous 16th century Rembrandt painting, The Night Watch is a modern rekindling of the much-loved Gold Coast tradition of the Sunday night beachside gathering. The project explores the act of ‘night watching’ by translating and reinterpreting the Golden Age themes of Rembrandt’s civic guard scene into a portrait of life, Gold Coast style, through a curated program of contemporary screen-based works.
ESSAY THE NIGHT WATCH
Rembrandt van Rijn would have loved video art. His most acclaimed work, The Night Watch 1642, is of a cinematic scale before the invention of cinema; it measures 363 × 437cm. Notable not just for its size, the work’s dramatic use of light, shadow, energy and movement distinguish it from other stiffly formal civic guard portraits of the era; the company is captured in a tangle of gestures and expressions just as they are about to march. In contrast to the later-appended title, the scene is actually set in daylight, with the sun streaming down from the top left, but the effect of the time-darkened varnish which causes the figures to emerge from inky gloom only adds to the dramatic composition.
Some of the most compelling artworks of the last thirty years employ moving image and sound. The technologies associated with capturing, exhibiting, and documenting these ephemeral media are inherently fast moving and mutable. ‘Video art’ has become a catch-all term for moving image works, which are now pervasive presences within galleries, aligning with the ubiquity of the medium in our daily lives. Within the realm of contemporary art, the increase in production values in recent years is apparent. Artists are embracing VR technology and the spatial possibilities of moving images just as quickly as commercial interests looking for new advertising outlets.
The exhibition The Night Watch features 18 video works by 18 artists and collectives across two venues. All works have been made in the last four years, and are each less than two minutes. Rekindling a much-loved Gold Coast tradition of Sunday night beachside gatherings, the project also captures some of the integral aspects of a Gold Coast visitor’s experience: nightlife and promenading: watching others and being watched.
The artists included in The Night Watch are distinctive for their diverse approaches to the visual language of the video art medium. These works by this purposefully disparate but distilled group of practitioners give a sense of this time and place; they are snapshots of a scene. In a period where we are all able to access technology to record and edit video through our smartphones, the democratic nature of the medium is pervasive.
The Night Watch is a roll call of some of the most talented and innovative artists working in the medium. Most of the works feature the coastline or the local environment of the Gold Coast in some way, yet others remain abstractly indistinct. From the solarised beachscapes featuring two young women in Hannah Bronte’s Nomi n Nali 2018, to the playful irony of Weekend Immendorff [Suzanne Howard + David M Thomas]’s Human Experience 2017 documenting earnest individuals running and riding past the frame, these works depict complex world views, synthesizing biography within ever-evolving contexts, unencumbered by a limiting definition of what might constitute or need to reflect a local sensibility or specificity.
There are works that convey a profound sense of place and integral connection to country, such as Libby Harward Yabruma 2015, and those which address the aesthetic pleasures of natural conditions such as Michelle Xen’s Submerge 2017, to the impressionist capture of a fragmentary moment as seen in Alex Chomicz’s Pump 2018, and the grittier realism of Ying Ang & Ling Ang’s Gold Coast 2014 as well as the montaged retro-Gold Coast footage used in Byron Coathup’s All Work No Play (Miami/Miami Remix) 2018.
Performance art and video have shared a long relationship, first as a means to document live events, then later through the creation of events specifically for the medium, as seen in Chris Bennie’s posing figures, the awkward, semi-slapstick interpretive dance of Lowana Davies’s Home Ground 2017 and Chantal Fraser’s veiled figures refusing the gaze.
With the release of the Sony Portapak video camera in 1967, video became inexpensive and portable, democratising a medium which, to that point, was monopolised by the commercial interests of broadcast television. The medium has only continued its trajectory to a radical accessibility. Here on the Gold Coast, the Night Watch project’s projection into public space fulfills these early aims. While the belief that artistic agency can lead to social change has lost some of the euphoric edge of the counter-culture era, video remains a valuable tool for artists dealing with political issues as we move deeper into the twenty-first century.
This compendium of works provides a unique window into a current moment of the visual arts in Australia during a period of vitality and experimentation. The Night Watch surveys the scene, and enables us to view a richness of perspective, invention and possibility by some of the most exciting artists working in the medium today. — Angela Goddard Director, Griffith University Art Museum
BENJAMIN FORSTER, ANITA HOLTSCLAW, DANIEL MUDIE CUNNINGHAM
CURATED BY REBECCA ROSS
THE WALLS ART SPACE, MIAMI, GOLD COAST
LIST OF WORKS [Flowing in the direction of the ocean currents in the hemisphere of location]
Anita Holtsclaw The Waves [2013-14] Digital Video 15min 4sec
Benjamin Forster Idiot Box  Custom electronics
Daniel Mudie Cunningham True Colours  4K single channel video with sound 4min6sec
ESSAY Channel Surfing: a state of ozmosis
You are a seeker, I am a seeker. In the same way a surfer seeks waves, a channel surfer seeks a channel.
I got hooked on the title Channel Surfing some time ago. It’s a play on the use of the TV screen in the gallery, screen-based works, and is now an exhibition where collectively the artworks can be viewed as channels. In this case, the exhibition comprises artworks by Benjamin Forster, Anita Holtsclaw and Daniel Mudie Cunningham.
A strait of water can be described as a channel, a nd typically joins two large areas of water or seas together. In a si milar way, the title Channel Surfing brings together three works that are anchoredtovisionsofthesea,thebeach,surfingandwaves.Areflectionofitslocation,with close proximity to the Coral Sea and numerous beach and point breaks, the title pays homage to, and is a play on, a site renowned for surfing and surfers.
This site, Miami on the Gold Coast, home of The Walls, is temporarily the collective home of theLCD(liquidcrystaldisplay)a ndCRT(cathoderaytube) TVsintheexhibition;they’veall lived domestic lives prior to their stint in the art space, and will return to their homes
afterwards. There’s dust on the backs and domestic brand names on the fronts. These are lived appliances whose remote control numbers have worn off. They are showing their age. I like to think that within the TVs is the memory of, and the future potential for, the TV’s primary actions - screening, flicking, scanning and surfing (tele)visions. Although at the time of writing one of the CRT’s has just gone on the blink.
The presentation of most screen-based artworks usually requires remote controls in order to be activated. However, in Channel Surfing, one of the works, I diot Box by Benjamin Forster, is in itself the controller. A ‘close’ control as I have dubbed it, or micro-controller as Benjamin calls it, is a piece of hand-built custom electronics that g enerate live patterns on the screen. The notion that waves have a genetic code (something I have recently become interested in) echoes in this work, where the micro-controller’s code generates a video signal, creating a mirrored wave pattern that is unpredictable but not random (like surf waves).
Anita Holtsclaw’s work T he Waves combines the artist’s stated “interests in the landscape and the role it plays in recorded media, where our experience of place is altered and framed by the experience of viewing rather than visiting places.” Over a timeframe of 15 minutes, Anita’s waves wash over the screen, almost spilling on the gallery floor, creating a cross-current in the TV’s perpendicular orientation to the real sea lapping at the shore, just 200 metres away.
Set on Cronulla Beach, D aniel Mudie Cunningham’s T rue Colours remakes Cyndi Lauper’s hit music video of the same name. Here, the artist reimagines the stylised beach setting of the original True Colors video as the Sydney beach Cronulla; as he describes it, “a lurid scene awash with the true blue colours of Australian nationalism.” It’s a remake that Daniel says “amplifies these connotations as a device to ‘queer’ the distorted symbols of Australian nationalism that initiated the homosocial mob violence and territorial tribalism performed at Cronulla on the day of the riots”.
These works are exhibited on their various monitors, media players and controllers, with minimal regard for intervening in the gallery construct. The cables and cords lie as they fell, coiling and twisting on the floor like surfboard leg-ropes, tethering screens to their power outlets in the same way a surfer is connected to her surfboard.
[Insert reality TV program here]
You read this far and you didn’t change channels - thank you, I hope you enjoy the show.
— Rebecca Ross, 2016
HIGH RISE LOW RISE
ANNA CAREY, CLAUDIA DE SALVO, ANJA LOUGHHEAD, MONIQUE MONTFROY, MILLAN PINTOS-LOPEZ, KAEL STASCE 9 December, 2016 – 11 February, 2017
The Walls Art Space and Canberra Contemporary Art Space
High Rise Low Rise is a contemporary art Contiki Tour: artworks packed in suitcases, curators on flights to far-flung locales and artists emerging from airport terminals to the sea air of the Gold Coast. It is a touring exhibition of artists from Canberra and the Gold Coast whose disparate practices share regional connections, architectural references and touristic motifs. The exhibition focuses on the opportunity for exchange and highlights the importance of regional connectivity between art spaces, places and artists.
High Rise Low Rise emerged from Rebecca Ross’ [Artistic Director,The Walls] mentorship with David Broker [Director, Canberra Contemporary Art Space]. During conversation and research, in both Miami and Canberra, David and Rebecca identified some uncanny similarities between Canberra and the Gold Coast and then set out to explore their differences, connectivity, and the architecture of these purpose-built regional cities, each inviting 3 local artists to exhibit in both Canberra and the Gold Coast.
A joint project between THE WALLS and Canberra Contemporary Art Space
HIGH RISE LOW RISE was supported by The Regional Arts Development Fund. The Regional Arts Development Fund is a Queensland Government and City of Gold Coast Council partnership to support local arts and culture.