In a world where technology, spectacle and excess can sometimes eclipse quieter contemplation of the interconnectedness of nature and culture, how do we reconcile our position as a virus in clothes that makes cities and internets of ineffable complexity? Has nature been assimilated into the artifice of culture? Or is culture simply of form of nature that humans produce? What role can art play in negotiating and mediating understandings and anxieties related to our place in the world? For this exhibition, art is implicated within the natures of phenomena and as an extension from that which we think of as nature itself. Welcome to the megacosm.
As a recurring sensibility in contemporary art, the inseparability of nature and culture might be considered across a broad range of very different materials and modalities. From beholding celestial infinitudes in the sky at night to serendipitous encounters with tiny creatures in urban environments, the aesthetics and poetics of this mutually entangled interconnectedness has long offered rich subject matter for artists. Notwithstanding the urgencies of our present moment, this exhibition seeks to resist didactic instrumentalisation and instead consider art and nature together as part of the labyrinthian continuum of reality.
Nature has returned with force as an artistic subject in recent years—largely in response to growing anxieties and precarities related to a changing world. Consequently, many artists are reassessing one of the oldest themes in art through new conceptual lenses and material means. In the twenty-first century, some forms of aesthetic speculation largely rejected by past generations have returned through new modes of material and poetic innovation. Although definitions and understandings of nature remain highly contested, the artists in this exhibition all variously explore what might be possible through mutually informing layers of material and imaginary complexity.
Echoing interconnectivities that intrinsically underscore the organic microcosm of human experience, some forms of art seem to implicitly resonate with patterns of difference and similarity across the universe. Presented through range of uncanny otherworldly verisimilitudes, this exhibition draws from a continuum that exists not only in cosmic nature, but also through registrations of human responses to the megacosm.
Curated by Cūrā8
Simone Douglas’ multi-modal expanded photographic constellations pair image and object to evoke the sublime qualities of light as it dances across and through reflective watery surfaces in various states. Considered together, these evocative image-object relationships offer the viewer a profound experiential meditation on both the nature of elemental processes and the life affirming necessity of light from the heavens.
Lindsay Farr began dabbling in bonsai in early childhood, with his first real collection realised when he was only 13 years old. Now 75, Farr’s extraordinary bonsai creations attract substantial national and international attention.
Irene Hanenbergh’s commanding yet modestly scaled oil paintings offer the viewer a threshold through which to imaginatively enter otherworldly existences. Through a strangely nostalgic gilded frame, the viewer is offered a fantastical natural landscape inflected with both contemporary baroque and romantic currents.
Lotta Petronella’s filmic and photographic works trace the destinies of countless women and natures across the centuries. Imaginatively connecting winds and spirits to realms of hidden memories, Petronella contemplates which stories are remembered and which are forgotten. Can trees and bodies embody ghostly connections across space and time?
Kate Rohde presents her intensely colourful and richly decorative sculptural objects as a fantastical re-versioning of nature—albeit with a faux-figurative presence. Here, human relationships to nature coexist in a strange oscillation between synthetic comforts and the labyrinthian dimensions of the natural world.
Benedict Sibley’s exquisite series of small photogravure etchings are paired with a large three panelled drawing gently but soberly to remind us of the Australian bush’s extraordinary but now increasingly tested capacity to regenerate following catastrophic fire events.
Utako Shindo presents a collection of delicately executed Japanese watercolour on paper abstractions that interact with spatially considered ceramic objects to quietly resist literal translation. Alluding to absences which imply shadow-like presences, they seek to direct attention to less noticed spaces between louder objects and events in the world.
LOTTA PETRONELLA, Själö: Island of Souls, 2020. Film, 1’18”. Script: Lotta Petronella, Seppo Parkkinen; Cinematography: Kerttu Hakkarainen; Sound: Janne Laine; Editing: Matti Näränen, Lotta Petronella; Music: Lau Nau; Cast: Lotta Petronella, Jasmin Inkinen; Producer: Ilona Tolmunen.
SIMONE DOUGLAS, Parallel infinities, 2022 (timelapse video). Ice, water, one-to-three-day durational melt event, 50 x 101 x 50 cm (thence dimensions variable); Receptacle, acrylic base, 62 x 62 x 108 cm