The Schanck Show

Architects can be fairly difficult for a lot of people to get along with. Artists can be especially cynical of the work of architects. They create so many structures which are unsympathetic towards artistic practice, be they awkward, too imposing, too domineering, too Ďsignatureí.

The Schanck show is different. The architect of the house, Paul Morgan isnít posturing as an artist, but rather, providing an opportunity for artists. The Schanck Show doesnít set itself up as a dedicated gallery, but rather as a one off project. It is an opportunity for the structure to function as something else before it fully assumes its real role. Its raison d'Ítre is that of providing a coastal retreat for the architect and members of his family, a part time house away from the city. So this isnít just the opportunistic use of the clients property before they take possession, it is about the architect, it is about his life and those around him, it is about mutual appreciation for different creative fields.

The Rim, John Meade

John Meade's The Rim serves as a succinct intervention into the interior architecture of the living area, an area almost overwhelmed by the presence of a peculiar amorphic form that seems to droop from the ceiling to the floor. This form, housing a water cooling system, makes the transition from being a feature within the space to almost becoming its focus. It introduces a soft curvaceousness into an environment categorised, as much architecture could be, by its relentless adhesion to linearity. Yet, what makes this form so intriguing within this context is its similarity to Meade's work entitled Tongue Tunnel & Emotional Motif of 2003, albeit in an inverted state. Meade's work of 2003 created a physical manifestation of Lacan's theory of desire, wherein the drive of desire is chartered in its trajectory towards that which is desired, being symbolized by the rim. Morganís' design lacks, in a Lacanian sense, that which is desired, so Meade, reclaiming in a way that which was his, has offered him his rim, in a plutonic kind of way.

Frog Man, Cate Consandine

Meade's is not the only work within the Schanck Show that explores desire within a framework of camp. Cate Consandine's Frog Man is a looped sequence of a theatrically made up subject, replete with alluringly long lashes, as he begins to open his eyes, exposing himself and confronting the viewer. The eyes never quite open, they flicker, then gently close again. It is as if the subject is a country boy who has just had a very big night out in King's Cross. It was all so unlike him, but one thing lead to another, as these things happen. Now he is at that point of emerging from a drug induced slumber, but to fully open his eyes would be the start of piecing the evening together. To re-close his eyes is to prolong this long disco night, like it is all still happening, or never happened at all.

Cast, Catherine Martin

As its name suggests, Catherine Martin's Cast draws heavily upon the shadows created by the architecture. Having trained as an architect herself, Martin's work is potentially one of the more earnest works within the exhibition, displaying a high degree of sensitivity towards the invitation to exhibit work that responds to the architecture and its environment. The resultant digital composition based upon forms of light and dark are replicated exploring the tonality of the shadows and the relationship of the elements and the architecture. The end result is like a sample of self referential modernist wallpaper, a test swatch to be manoeuvred around the house, to see how it fits, to see how the building works.

You are not alone, Jo Scicluna

Jo Scicluna's video and installation You are not alone can be read alternately as a distinctly existentialist musing or a highly personal self reflection on her relationship to the architecture and the architect. In regards to the former, Scicluna's work adopts a retro-futurist aesthetic to explore the relationship between the self, time and the environment. In this regard, Morgan's design serves as the perfect backdrop, embodying a kind of sensitively placed structure from another place or another time, not yet here. Scicluna work suggests a phototropism, but not merely towards actual light, but also towards a future, the light at the end of a tunnel, and the anticipation of betterment, more than merely survival.

Through a personal reading of Scicluna's work, the title of her work is a mantra for self, but perhaps also a pledge of commitment. For, the Cape Schanck house is not just about Morgan, it is about his life and those with whom he will share that. In referencing a futurism in her work, Scicluna is, perhaps unconsciously, projecting a future in which she not only features, but is integral to.

Bon Voyage & Countess, Renee So

Renee So's Bon Voyage refects on the local environment in a more historically contextual way. Her portrait depicts a Dutch explorer who sailed to Cape Schanck in the 1700's before Captain Cook. The Dutch loved exploring the Pacific region around this period, although they weren't so keen on staying. Perhaps they didn't feel the same need to 'civilise' perfectly happy, healthy, self supporting indigenous peoples. Or maybe they already had plenty of space within the existing prison infrastructures back in the Netherlands and didn't require that kind of outpost. So's explorer looks like an effete bald shaman emerging out of a beard of blue barnacles. With Bon Voyage So provides us with an educational lesson of sorts, through her somewhat disturbingly rendered historical portrait.

So's ceramic bust of Madame Butterfly, entitled Countess appears equally adorned with a beautiful flowing mane of barnacle like forms. Departing from more traditional busts, Countess doesn't entirely seem like the representation of a woman, in a representational kind of way. She is more abstract, like an allusion of a bust of an allusion of a woman.

Venera, Alex Pittendrigh

Alex Pittendrigh's Venera operates in a similarly abstract fashion, alluding to botanical representation while having an internal, organic abstraction. His objects are crafted from everyday materials, and decorated as if they exist between the man-made and the naturally occurring. They emerge as a kind of home-crafted 'Chinoiserie', of imagined flora from as yet undiscovered habitats. Pittendrigh's practice seems to probe the possibilities of nature while refining abstract principles of adornment, aestheticisizing the natural environment, beautifying the man-made.

Cape Shag, Starlie Geikie

Starlie Geikie's offering accentuates the idea of the domestic home while agitating the contemporaneity of the architecture. Her delicate Cape Shag embroidery operates in multiple ways within the idea of the holiday house. The 'dagginess' of the embroidery retains a consistency with many of the items housed within or used to adorn holiday houses. Somehow they are always full of 'second best' items, the gifted bric-a-brac that can't be thrown away, like purgatory for furniture and objects that we couldn't live with on a day to day basis. But the embroidery also connotes the adventures and misadventures that we have while on holiday, when we relax a little, get a bit too festive. The house itself then becomes a site and signifier of our experiences, memories, relationships, things we will always remember, and as always, things we'd rather forget.

Untitled, David Noonan

David Noonan's collage work also draws upon elements of nostalgia, no less personally than Geikie, but certainly less satirically. His subject is a lone figure walking across a coastal landscape, not a beach, but a rugged, stony foreshore, more brooding than beautiful. A hippie wandering through nature contemplating the relative merits of imbibing daytura. It seems eerily personal, but not particularly self referential, like the reconstruction of a memory that is not the artists own. David Noonan is getting inside somebody else's head. The work is framed in a manner that befits the era of his subject matter, imbued with a 70's aesthetic, with dark stained wood and Hessian. Noonan's work appears like it belongs exactly where it is, its stony foreground signifying the nearby coastline, while simultaneously referencing the specially designed interior paving and its wooded frame mimics the internal wooden wall.

Untitled, Peter Robertson

Peter Robertson's work also plays upon the context of its installation. His work relies upon the light of its environment to actuate the images contained within the wooden casement. Intended to be viewed from outside of the house, the effect of the work is that of looking through a window to look through another window. Through a phenomenological reading, Robertson's seemingly specific source imagery attempts to invoke a personal reflection on the depicted images. Painstakingly rendered on some thirty or panes of Perspex, Robertson juxtaposes two disparate scenes that alternately project and recede their respective subjects. The experience of viewing Robertson's work seems akin to looking in on somebody else's habitat, somebody else's life, and comparing that to your own.

Continuous Moment: Excerpt, Damiano Bertoli

Damiano Bertoli's Continuous Moment: Excerpt provides a cleverly subversive response to a project in which architecture is a central component. Suitably situated outside the house itself, this work is a model of an extracted portion of Superstudio's Continuous Moment grid. This project, unveiled in 1969 by Italy's infamous Superstudio collective suggested a movement that was fundamentally anti-design and anti-architecture. The Continuous Moment project dispensed with architecture altogether, proposing a grid that extended across the earth's surface, as a means to impede the crisis modernism posed for the environment and the development of society. Their project is an omnipresent motif within Bertoli's practice as he attempts to actualise in physical form that which they had developed in a conceptual form. Like a faithful prophet interpreting a doctrine and spreading it to the masses, Bertoli's Continuous Moment: Excerpt is looking at Paul Morgan through the window and saying, 'Dispense with architecture altogether.'

Excerpt from Mark Fearyís catalogue essay