PLUS+MINUS productions

100   2009

Stills Gallery, Paddington, 19 August - 19 September 2009

The work in this exhibition continues my longstanding interest in the relationship between the still and moving image. As with my recent works, Stati d'Animo (2005-07) and Aqua (2007), time and duration come into play in different ways in each of my three new works: Fieldwork I (Echo Point, Giza, Pripyat) (2009); Fieldwork II (Chernobyl) (2009); and Aqua/ocean (2008-09).

Fieldwork I and Fieldwork II draw on associations between diverse locations through a framework of time governed by myths and legends, losses and absences. I am drawn to these particular locations because they resonate with some of the central challenges of contemporary life, such as the workable coexistence between people, technology and the environment. In contrast, Aqua/ocean is locationless. It is set in an unidentifiable ocean with anonymous surfers and an unmarked ship. Within the exhibition, Aqua/ocean offers a counterpoint to the documentary effect of the other works, providing an immaterial space for reflection.

Fieldwork I (Echo Point, Giza, Pripyat) Three-channel video installation, 3 custom screens, 168 x 300cm. Colour, stereo sound. Duration: 6 minute loop.

Echo Point

Detail: Echo Point, Katoomba, looking across to The Three Sisters.
The Three Sisters, one of the Blue Mountains' most famous sights, tower above the Jamison Valley. They were formed millennia ago by erosion and will eventually vanish through a similar geological fate. A false Dreamtime legend was created in 1942 to boost tourism in the area. It claimed that three sisters fell in love with three men from a neighbouring tribe, but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. Battle ensued. The sisters were turned to stone by an elder to protect them, but the elder was killed in the fighting and no one the else could turn them back to flesh.

Pyramid

Detail: Menkaure's Pyramid, Giza, looking across to Cairo.
The smallest pyramid, the tomb of Menkaure, was built sometime during the 26th Century BC. According to legend, Menkaure was a pious and beneficent king, in contrast to his two predecessors, Chephren and Cheops. In 1835, the remains of a wooden anthropoid coffin inscribed with Menkaure's name and containing human bones were discovered in the upper antechamber of the pyramid and removed. The coffin can now be viewed in the British Museum.

Pripyat

Detail: Pripyat, looking across to Reactor 4, Chernobyl.
The ruined Chernobyl nuclear facility still contains some 200 tons of radioactive fuel. A steel and concrete shell was built soon after the disaster to contain the radiation. It is becoming increasingly unstable. A billion-dollar Safe Confinement replacement is to be built on site, designed to enclose the existing sarcophagus for 100 years. Within the lifetime of the new shelter, it is hoped that a way of dealing with the radioactive fuel and the breached reactor will be found.

Fieldwork II

Detail: Fieldwork II (Chernobyl)
Single channel video projection. Colour, silent. Duration: 100 minutes.
Driving into Chernobyl, a long row of abandoned houses stand on ground still contaminated by radiation. Further along the road the more toxic houses are shrouded in a thick layer of clay. There is a belief that clay can contain the spread of contamination and prevent seepage into the earth. Twenty-two years after the explosion of Reactor 4, the houses await a more permanent burial.

Aqua Ocean Ship 

Detail: Aqua/ocean/ship
Two-channel video. Colour, silent. Duration: 3 minute loop.
Aqua/ocean continues the Aqua series of works, which depict people immersed in different bodies of water. On a grey day, surfers paddle out towards a ship that passes without stopping. A rainbow arches across the overcast sky.

Aqua Ocean Rainbow

Detail: Aqua/ocean/rainbow
Two-channel video. Colour, silent. Duration: 3 minute loop.

Merilyn Fairskye 2009