Curated by Kelly Fliedner
The Nothing explores realms of the unknown and potentially unknowable aspects of human understanding – the things that we can’t fully comprehend or for which words and recognisable forms simply do not exist. The exhibition’s title, ‘The Nothing’, is taken from the childhood fable The Neverending Story, wherein an indescribable ’emptiness’ pervades Fantasia (the mythical land in which the story takes place), chronicling the gap between islands of human knowledge and understanding. ‘The Nothing’ addresses liminal spaces, transposing and transforming materials from the familiar to the foreign in order to explore themes of uncertainty and crisis.
Through conceptual photography, ephemeral installations, works on paper, and sculptural interventions, the artists participating in The Nothing bring forward concepts that propose open-ended and possibly unanswerable yet enduring questions about how we function within, and respond to our world and our society. As a means of opening up psychological spaces of doubt and further inquiry, in their respective practices the artists use a range of different approaches to explore the things that can’t readily be seen, or necessarily understood, but that we know of and experience nonetheless – the forces that govern our being. The intention of the exhibiting artists is to take something familiar (an object, an image, a material, a word, or social intervention) and manipulate it into something that challenges the viewer’s perceptual awareness, of what actually constitutes as ‘real’ for the viewer.
While each artist’s practice is distinct, there is a strong material synergy amongst the work’s elegant post-minimalist aesthetic. Post-minimalism usually describes artists who use minimalism either as an aesthetic or conceptual reference point, using everyday objects, simple materials, reflecting upon “pure” formal aesthetics and quite frequently rejecting them. In The Nothing the simple beauty of post-minimalism is paired with absurdity and humour – mocking the minimalists fixed art object, its plasticity and its concreteness. The works orientate around the viewer, allowing for a moment when he or she becomes an active agent, self-aware of perceiving and apprehending an artwork. As a result the artworks become both performative and temporal, evoking elements of uncertainty and unpredictability in the perceptual consciousness, however each artist participating in The Nothing recognises boundaries of perception and explores themes of uncertainty and crisis that are mirrored within post’minimalism’s challenge to minimalism itself.
While there is an implicit pathos shared by most of the artists’, many also embody elements of humor and irony. While each artist poses sincere and searching questions about meaning and belief, they seem to recognise a certain impossibility in seeking concise answers. While the works are earnest, they also peer at themselves obliquely and recognise an absurdity in the task of understanding ‘The Nothing’, a project that may never be fully resolved in our living reality.