In Gallery five of the Sydney College of the Arts/ University of Sydney Gallery two Masters of Art Curating students, Tian Kang and Yunyan Tang selected my new installation Where they were last seen for their exhibition Being towards Death. Gallery five is an interesting mix between being a white cube and a non-white cube space. In this installation developed specifically for this exhibition and this site, the curatorial premise developed by Tian and Yunyang resulted in a more direct focus on the physicality of the Intensive Care Unit. The image shows a detail of one of the main elements of the space. The patient bedspace is sited directly underneath a large roof lantern or skylight. The overbed hospital table holds the bedside medical monitor playing the simulation of the visual data and sonic traces of a patient bleeding out while the silk paper bed and pillow shape refutes the functionality of the bed by its ephemeral, flimsy and seemingly transitory nature. The next post will address one of the other elements of the installation, the blanket work.
Fiona Davies Where they were last seen (detail) 2018
Installation, silk paper, found objects, video, framed print, photographic print and fabric.
Size variable as installed Gallery 5 SCA Gallery Sydney. Photo credit Alex Gooding
In terms of the bedspace of the patient the body in healthcare settings occupies a complex but somewhat ambivalent position: it is at the centre of everything yet is at the same time oddly displaced and this is even more pronounced once that body is dead. Then apparently there is little tolerance for the sight of the dead body by others. Speciality transports are used to move the body from the place of death to the morgue. This conceals both the presence and/or the shape of the body.
It is possible that this well-intentioned consideration of the sensibilities of the living members of the public work to dislocate or sever the experiences of the recently dead patient’s family and carers. Until death they were associated with a specific location in the hospital, the bed or bedspace of the patient. After death and the transportation of the body to the morgue they tend to be cut free. There is no physical evidence of the patient in the public sphere of the hospital and the family and carers appear to be of limited further interest to the hospital.
The exhibition was part of the Curatorial Lab component of the Masters of Art Curating program.
On the 17th October from 6-8 p.m. an exhibition Being towards Death curated by University of Sydney, Masters of Art Curating, students, Tian Kang and Yunyan Tang will open at the SCA Gallery, University of Sydney, Sydney. They have curated a new work of mine an installation titled Where they were last seen.
On the following evening the 18th October also from 6-8 p.m. Tian and Yunyan with a number of other Master of Art Curating students have also curated another work of mine into a group exhibition titled In Translation at Verge Gallery on the main campus of the University of Sydney. The work selected for this exhibition is Racing Patience ICU, a performative installation from 2018.
podcast click here
From the archives of ARTHouse on Radio BM 89.1 – In this Segment, Justin Morrissey leads this week’s panel discussion on ‘Art & Science’. Justin is joined by Damian Castaldi, Fiona Davies, Solange Kershaw and Julie Ankers. Two tracks from Out of Abingdon’s newest album are also featured.
Image – At the Legacy day for Cudos in the Nano Science Hub at the School of Physics University of Sydney 2017
Video still from a new work Blood on Silk: Blood Running, 2018. The video will be projected onto the surface of a wondercabinet zinc box set on the top of a table. Part of the video of the running blood will occasionally extend onto the floor.
In two weeks an exhibition called Colour Run will open at the Braemar Gallery in Springwood. The exhibition is curated by Beata Geyer and one of my works Once upon a time , long ago and far away there were twenty three units of blood has been selected. In the run up I’ve been thinking of the other times I’ve focused on the narrative of Twenty three units of blood.
This work, was one of the first of these works I made, Memorial/ One shift Nov 30, 2000 was exhibited in St Marks Anglican Church,Aberdeen NSW in 2006 as part of Memorial/Double Pump Laplace I
In the card game Racing Patience ICU there are two players. One draws a central card that describes the patient’s stats when entering ICU. Starting at the same time, one player represents the ICU team trying to bring the patient back into the normal or survivable ranges for blood pressure, heart rate, blood oxygenation and rate of respiration. The other player sometimes called Death, attempts to take the patient out of those survivable ranges. Each player attempts to track the four parameters, keeping a rough tally in their head of the changes in the patient stats as each card is added to one of the four stacks. The players turn over their cards in groups of three, being able to play the top card only. It is not a social or fair game. It is extremely competitive and can be rough and physical as each player tries to get their card onto the stacks in the centre. Importantly there is no concept of taking turns. It requires an ability to focus on many things which are changing, all at the same time. At the end of five minutes an alarm sounds. The game is over. On a count-back the winner is decided. The winner is who determined whether the patient during that particular five minutes was in or out of the survivable range for the four vital signs. Who knows what happened in the next five minutes and if the ethics of particular interventions that drove the often widely swinging changes of the parameters were ever able to be considered.