Wednesday, July 31, 2013


In contemporary society UNEASE and uncertainty is commonplace amidst a fast paced POST-DIGITAL lifestyle dominated by advancing communication technologies, ubiquitous surveillance, political unrest, DISEASE, gender dysphoria, gender politics, physical & psychological trauma and a particular ALIENATION borne from a loss of community and traditional values.  Within this ethos, a PSYCHOPATHOLOGY has occurred in which both sexes struggle with the idea that certainty and security may be an illusion, out of reach, simply unobtainable? Always this ANXIETY is played out on the body, no more so than on the female body, which is presented in the media as dismembered, fragmented and sexualized, encouraging women (and sometimes men) to view their bodily parts as individual pieces to be scrutinized for unwanted blemishes, disease and disfigurement. The body then is in a state of being cut, or containing the potential for being INCISED. It is wounded and remade.

Tracey Lamb Un-ease (2013) ©
In her photograph of a discarded mannequin, positioned upright amidst lush, green flora TRACEY LAMB’s Un-ease (2013) acutely depicts the ‘classical’ rounded female torso, the most famous being Aphrodite of Cnidus (a sculpture by Praxiteles c.350BC) which was originally discovered without head or limbs, and, of course Rene Magrite’s now famous Act of Violence (1932). The naked ‘dummy’ makes particular reference to the fashion industry, in which the model is mere armature for designer clothing and not required to think. However, the stained area on the front of this WHITE mannequin of more diminutive body contours, speaks to an industry that applauds the small, thin female body as the appropriate type to wear designer clothes, as opposed to the actual size of ordinary women. The BLEMISH formed by the fact that the empty vessel was partially filled with dirty water, mosquito larvae and debris - indicative of our WASTE culture, is a reminder of the tossed aside naked, polluted body of Laura Palmer, homecoming queen who was murdered in the first episode of the television drama TWIN PEAKS (David Lynch, 1990).  Abuse of women, whether beautiful or not, neglect, and anxiety about body image and disease are all evoked in this simple, but powerful image. The stain also suggests tainting of the notion that women should conform to a particular body schema.

The mark or stain is what our eye is drawn to in New York photographer ARIANA PAGE RUSSELL’S self-portrait. Dermatographia causes her immune system to release excessive amounts of histamine, causing capillaries to dilate and welts to appear. This allows her to painlessly draw on her skin. She reveals her vulnerability and dis(ease) by alerting us to her desire to articulate her difference in Heatwave (2009) a self-portrait in a Man Ray like fashion pose, in which her lips are exposed as diseased or damaged.
Ariana Page Russell. Heatwave (2009) ©
We are reminded of the swollen mouths of women who have received Botox injections or undergone plastic surgery in order to enhance their lips making them look and feel younger and hopefully warding of aging and death – two of the major anxieties of our times. And also of those who inflict self-harm in order to ‘feel’ like they are alive. Like Lamb’s Un(ease) the fragmented part of the woman is stilted like a store-dummy, the only saving feature is that she has positioned her hands so as to cradle and frame her own experience.

In ALANA TOMPSON's April is the cruelest month (2012) the female body cloaked in fabric is confined within a sarcophagus-shaped bath permeated with a rubescent glow. Reminiscent of the red light ambiance used in  a dark room for developing film or in low light control areas, such as the one she has set up herself with soft candles, the photograph alludes to sacred or profane rituals associated with death, dying or mourning, but also to photography itself, which makes an object of its subject.
April is the cruelest month. Alana Tompson. (2012)©
Shrouded in this magenta, almost amniotic fluid, which hints of the blood of menstruation, childbirth, miscarriage or traumatic injury, the un(ease) experienced by the viewer might be borne from the idea that the female body is disintegrating under the fabric of life – the material she wears like folds of loose skin lifted away from the body during decomposition, the woman’s head extended backwards exposing the soft, vulnerable throat, like a lamb to the slaughter. The woman’s head, the only fleshy part of the scene evokes a severed head, an amputation.

Memento Mori (2008). Mariano del Castillo.  ©
MARIANO DEL CASTILLO's Memento Mori (2008) mixed media (painted ceramic, vintage binoculars, glass, plastic, printed image and matches) resurrects discarded objects and creates a narrative around history, perception and mnemonics. The severed head with rounded red beads to demarcate the point at which the head was traumatically cut from the body may be regarded as the intellect divorced from emotion. The transparent glass bubbles which spew forth from where the mouth should be, articulate a delicate balance in which words themselves are frail and language itself may be shattered. The lifeless eyes, although enhanced by the binoculars, stare out at us, cloistered and protected from the outside world. However, amputating the intellect from the body alert us to the absent body from which our experience emanates. The un(ease) occurs because the body that interacts with the world is absent here and in its place, is the thinking part, which is afforded more status.

But it IS the human body that causes anxiety. It is marked with endogenous and exogenous dis(ease) – a burden carried within our microscopic insides where it remains invisible to the human eye or, is revealed on the soft outer surface. Often when the body is marked with signs of disease it signals a sense of horror in the viewer; for the perceived body becomes OUR body, an internal projection of what we fear WE may eventually become. PAM KLEEMANN dealt in part with her own breast cancer by making a series of breast plates that evoke armoring of the female body against intrusion by dis(ease) as well as medical intervention. In her mixed media work Cut Me (2006) the fleshy, soft and malleable mammary gland has become a hardened shell, rendered so by surgical intervention. The acrylic food cover represents protection, however its transparency evokes the silicon gel implants inserted under the skin during breast reconstruction and exposes the innermost body as a site of fragility. The words 'cut me' served up to the viewer on a cake plate, play with the notion of delicacy/delicate but exhibit resignation, for this site of the body may only be saved by being WOUNDED!

Cut Me. Pam Kleemann© (2006)

PEZALOOM WD’s digitally manipulated image Health to the Abyss (72) (2012) recalls the sense of body horror and anxiety we have about the possibility of dis(ease) since the image is isolated from the body it represents. The viscous and visceral bodily part suggestive of a monstrous being with long, extended finger nails, evokes alien life-forms prevalent in science-fiction films, creating an un(ease) or disquieting effect on our senses; for the fragmented entity provides little clues to what the remainder of the body looks like. Indeed, the anonymity of the subject shields the person (perhaps the artist) from over-exposure or identification with the disease.

Health to the Abyss (72) Pezaloom Wd©(2012)
ALIEY BALL’s Blight (1997) (plaster, bamboo, wire mesh and gallery walls) creates a situation in which the walls themselves have produced a dis(ease) that infiltrates and moves threateningly into the gallery space. The walls, have become anthropomorphized, indeed the artist said: I wanted the skin of the walls to grow a disease, which leans threateningly into the room to confront the audience with its presence. The phenomenology of a space infected. There is a hint here that walls, which usually protect us from intrusion and harm, have become purveyors of the very anxiety they was designed to eliminate. If we imagine that the wall is a skin that surrounds the nebulous skeletal structure then it has certainly been captured by the walls extended tentacles, rendering the sculpture as simultaneously human and non-human, viral, bacterial and potentially dangerous.
Blight. Aliey Ball. (1997 ©
A danger exposed in WERNER HAMMERSTINGL’s Remembrence #2 (1978-2013) a somber, black and white photo-montage of five different panels comprised of fragments from larger photographs taken over the past three decades of rapid change.The photograph depicts protest, anger, sloganism, identity, anxiety and political unrest. Documentary photographs are juxtaposed with those that appear digitally manipulated, clear images site side by side with those less clear. How do we read this image of people holding flags at a remonstration, the steel structure that forms a X alongside a medium close-up of an unknown man? The abstracted images incongruous amongst the easily readable partial panels - a sense of uncertainty or un(ease) in the viewer as to how the images connect. In my mind they chart patterns of existence - calligraphic, a trace, a glyph, a reference to writing or how we write, think, make images and create change; the ink of pen to white paper, the scratches and scrawls demonstrated in Cy Twombly's works or better still the activism and subversion of the urban graffiti artist. LANGUAGE is a POWERFUL tool.
Remembrence #2. Werner Hammerstingl.  (1978-2013) ©
Mildew on page of Webster's English Dictionary 1856. Julie Clarke © 2013

Moira Corby© 2013

noting this.

in the end
we all need to be carried

dead weight of departure
too much to bear alone

you reasoned too soon
with your opiate driver

is everything, you said

with memory looking
ahead at a dust storm

that inexplicable twist
of light and weight

lifting off a map
you never found or

couldn’t quite see
with living in the way

perhaps you were lost
in books or trees

they often look the same
with their naked intent

in particular
the calligraphy of silver birch

deep ink strokes
moving between sky and skin

and you transported
in that same vein

breath reading leaves
to the end of sound

is everything, you said

rising from the road
on ink, air and wood

noting this
will not happen again.

Cecilia White©2012


A Conversation with Clouds on the immensity of solitude.

They have
mal dis(ease).
From the middle of nowhere
we travel from Oadlawirra to Wilcania.
A black crow picked the rest of
& a wild Emu dancing with my left hand

There is
deep silence in the plain desert.
I pronounce: drop of rains
as a sound of life.
A dialogue with clouds.

We stop under a
blue sky and its shadows
Drawing us a border, radio given us signs of reality.
Made this place a total loss.

We make a break in our journey
Distance is a mirror app(ease) to be
a citizen of death.

Juan Garrido-Salgado©(2013)


  1. Just wanted to tell people that there have been 385 page views of this exhibition as of 9 am on Tuesday 6 August.

  2. AT 5pm tonight (Tuesday) there wee 398 page views.

  3. Moira Corby said on Friday 16 August:

    My Haiku is about the change of seasons from being a woman of child bearing capability to being a woman who is moving into the fertile freedom that later years offer. I find myself contemplating the body past, not at ease with my body, yet in the present moment, in ease and gratitude for my life embodied.