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Abdullah, Knight, Oram: Domestic Departures

Abdullah, Knight, Oram: Domestic Departures
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  D0MESTIC DEPARTURES ABDUL ABDULLAHJASPER KNIGHTJAMES 0RAM04 SEPT - 04 0CT 2014 Chalk Horse is open Thursday - Saturday 12-6 pmFor all enquiries please contact admin @ CHALK H0RSE L0WER GR0UND 171 WILLIAM STREET, DARLINGHURST SYDNEY NSW 2010 AUSTRALIA PH0NE +612 9380 8413WWW.CHALKH0RSE.C0M.AU  Domestic Departures is an inward looking show. The exhibition asks us to see the poetry in our own lives. It suggests how it is quite easy to project our own loves and desires, our vehement hatred and indifference onto the material stuff of the world and to build our fantasies from that. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the art world is that the artists here are not asking, as Hal Foster did, to return to the real, and to find the authentic in the material reality of history, memory and in the home but on the contrary. For these three artists the real might be the fantastical structures (of capitalism, love and ideology) that truly structure our lives. Abdul Abdullah obviously reworks the real in his photos but they are not direct portraits. Instead they are an amalgam of the real plus metaphor and narrative device. Clearly Abdullah is referencing the treatment by Australian politics of Islamic people; in that way it is a portrait of home and how we create Australian identity through excluding the ~enemy within." Sons of Sycorax is a good exemplar of how Abdullah creates the power in his images. Sycorax is the name of Caliban's witch mother, from Shakespeare's The Tempest. He is connecting Muslims in Australia to this literary outsider. 0n the other hand the black balloons reference a racist outburst in Bendigo as part of a local push to stop a mosque being built. Muslim houses were targeted and had black balloons tied to their letter boxes. In Bugi Man as well the spelling `Bugi' as opposed to `Bogey' refers to Abdullah's ancestral tribe, the Bugis. A popular theory is that the term `Bogey man' derived from British descriptions of Bugis pirates. The conflation of fable and historical fact is central to this work. The importance of Abdullah's images is that they are not strictly archival or historical. They oscillate between fantasy and the real, metaphor and real histories, portrait and allegory. Abdullah shows how our every day, even our houses, are part of a larger ideological battlefield. This battlefield is not only without but actually within our own fantasies.Jasper Knight fuses the domestic and the studio. In a return to his subject matter of industrial design and chairs we come back to the home; the armchair is a domestic object that really defines private space, where we are really ourselves to dream (away from our everyday concerns). Similarly his small sculpture, like a prop from Honey I Shrunk the Kids, creates a toy or mantelpiece sculpture out of the classic trope of the artist and his family. Knight shows how his identity as an artist becomes conflated with home. The collage works come towards the home but are made of broken pieces of paintings. It is as if he has destroyed the sanctity of the artwork, the authorial artist, in order to approach his identity as a father. The symbolic investiture that underpins ~father" or ~artist" are shown also to be fluid identities, that are in constant flux and under constant pressure from each other. The works do not show a fixed identity but show our individuality as a process of becoming. Finally James 0ram constructs a house of cards, and as such Stack is a metapicture for showing how all our endeavours are underpinned by faith and hope. The work is beautifully wrought through painstaking rotoscoping and matting so that the real becomes strangely uncoupled from reality. The work seems clearly despairing and fragile with the quotidian sadness of dollars spent on the ubiquitous scratchy. However there is the faith that we all must just take a leap of faith and make (our lives) anyway. We gamble with every decision we make. As usual 0ram has found the heroic in a small and everyday gesture. The sculptures too are based on the chemical structure of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that we know is at the heart of our reward centre. Why do we do the things we do? When we are happy is it because we are getting a little rush in our reward centres or does this sort of neuroscience tend to simplify the complexity of the human experience? Again 0ram's work equivocates between these two ideas.These works are contemporary in their return towards metaphor and narrative. They all need to be approached through a plurality of sign systems and image histories. In this way they are intense studies in how we construct our own identity. If we think we can find the ~true me" as 0prah promises, in these works we are confronted with the fact that our identity is made up of a very complex matrix, much of which we cannot control. 0liver Watts D0MESTIC DEPARTURES 0pposite Top Left: Abdul Abdullah, Bugi Man, 2014, Giclee print, 145 x 110 cm, Edition of 5. 0pposite Top Right: Abdul Abdullah, The re-introduction of Australian knighthood, 2014, Giclee print, 145 x 110 cm, Edition of 5. 0pposite Bottom Left: James 0ram, Reward 1, 2014, plaster, aluminium, painted terracota, 27 x 18 x 18 cm.0pposite Bottom Ringht: James 0ram, Reward 2, 2014, plaster, aluminium, painted terracota, painted chain, 27 x 18 x 18 cm.Front Left: Jasper Knight, Single 0rigin 1, 2014, mixed media, 95 x 95 cm.Front Right: Jasper Knight, Leopard Skin Pill Box, 2014, mixed media, 110 x 110 cm.Back: Jasper Knight, Family Portrait, 2014, 3d printed polymer and acrylic shelf, 23 x 20 x 20 cm, Edition of 3.
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