Saturday, February 9, 2013

SUSAN FEREDAY *INFINITE IMAGE* Review by Julie Clarke (2013)

Susan Fereday installation view. Photo: Julie Clarke 2013

This afternoon I went to see Susan Fereday’s exhibition Infinite Image at CCP (Centre for Contemporary Photography) in Fitzroy (Galleries two and three). I noticed the hanging, exquisitely cut, crystal platters that created virtual shadows on the gallery wall and the myriad of orderly placed, shinny, tin lids, each of them slightly different with either the maker’s name or a use by date stamped on the top and I moved into the large room installed with numerous photographs depicting circular shapes. My first impression was that Fereday, by photographing everyday objects in close-up, managed to made the ordinary most extra-ordinary. Juxtaposed with star lit skies these shapes play off the micro with the macrocosm. There was echoes here with one of her previous installations in which she had painstakingly lacquered circular saucers with various hues of pink nail varnish.
All those spheres that Fereday has photographed: buttons, tin lids, mirrors and jewel-like objects, evoked for me (at least) that most famous scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) – the astonished look on Janet Leigh’s face, the dark circle of her eye opened up in terror as she was slashed with a knife whilst showering; her blood like running water disappearing freely down the circular steel plughole. And so we, like the peeping tom of the film of the same name (Peeping Tom, Michael Powell 1960) who looks into the eye his victim, get lost in that constrained abyss from where there is no return, except if there is just one small spark of light, like that of a distant planet in the eye before the spirit leaves. But what if, in the looking, either into Fereday’s spherical shapes or into the abyss the eye or the lens of the camera, we are like the killer in Strange Days (Kathryn Bigelow, 1995) who perceives his actions through a virtual reality headset, who sees his own face reflected in his victim’s pupil just before she dies? The vastness of space is rendered here as life and death in the lens of the eye and the lens of the camera – reality becomes fantasy and fantasy reality. Anything can be rendered real with Photoshop!
This ‘infinite image’ is demonstrated by Fereday in the fact that she takes the circle as a starting point. There is, I believe a repetition and difference being applied here. The circle with minute, visual differences folding back like the self evolving but remaining essentially the same. Brightness and darkness exuding, as if through the lens of circular shapes.
Whether or not there are UFO’S inhabited by non-earthly creatures is neither here nor there, however, what is revealed in some of Fereday’s photographs is that the vast cosmos – still unknown or mapped, remains a site of fantasy (a phantasm) on which human beings project desire.  The other worldliness that remains elusive continues to beckon to us through light. Even though current theory suggests that it is dark matter that permeates most of space.
Fereday speaks of the UFO as a metaphor however she resists the temptation to present the unidentified craft in the way it has previously been represented or described through eye-witness accounts. The lights that represent celestial objects are open to interpretation. Consider the scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977) in which bright lights from an alien spacecraft suddenly appear out of nowhere and descend upon and burn the skin of those in close proximity. The UFO causes a strong wind in its up-flow and makes post boxes, train crossing signals, street poles and vehicles to move frenetically. The government, hearing such reports and intent on squashing rumor of an invasion or alien visitation fly a helicopter with downward bright lights over a crowd of believers who have gathered on the hill in anticipation of another visitation. Its turbulence and proximity creates a strong wind current and when the crowd realizes that the craft is just a helicopter they begin to doubt what they had seen with their own eyes. Fereday asks that we consider perception when viewing her images since they speak of the glitter and allure of things unattainable, of everyday advertisements and the desire that they create.
The infinite and the abyss was for George Bataille woman, but more than this, it was the endless hole of the vagina, the starry sky, emptiness and the mindless absence that did indeed make Madame Edwarda ‘God’ (152 – Marion Boyers (1989): London and New York). It’s all here in Fereday’s work but it requires much looking. Her exhibition is on until 24 March 2013.

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