Review of Photomedia, Mixed media, Animation exhibition
VIEW 2023 | SEVEN ARTISTS (Emily April O’Neill, Aidan Gageler, Harry Merriman, Gabriela Renee, Aaron Sun, April Widdup and Chenfei Xiao)
Photo access | 2 Mar – 15 Apr 2023
The 2023 edition of VIEW (an annual exhibition celebrating emerging talent) delves into the themes of cultural identity and the queer body. Showcasing seven emerging artists from the ACT region, it includes a diverse array of multimedia installations, traditional and non-traditional photo media, and animation.
Each artist presents a personal exploration of self, drawing upon shared experiences and perspectives in social, digital, and environmental realms. PhotoAccess Director Wouter Van de Voorde says “Their work highlights the strength and diversity of emerging artists in our region, and we are thrilled to provide a platform for their voices to be heard.”
Multimedia artist Chenfei Xiao uses digital and augmented reality technologies. Here we see a discussion of a personal experience living as a queer Chinese Buddhist. The resultant three portraits fascinate us as we explore them, discovering features of that experience and delighting in Xiao’s various identities. I encourage you to spend time with these works before reading any explanatory material about them.
Aaron Sun is a new media and technology artist. Here he uses 3D modelling, virtual reality photogrammetry and more to create an excellent video work investigating racism in Australia. Watching it forces us to ask ourselves what we might do to remove our own biases.
Abstract artist Aidan Gageler works on film, but never uses a camera as part of the production process. Happenstance played a major role in determining the end product. The collection of six works here takes us through various senses, emotions and colours (or lack of). Our responses to one work, Old Skin, will reflect how often we have each seen ageing skin in our long (or short) lives.
Interdisciplinary artist Emily April O’Neill has viewed how today’s modern technology has affected our lives. How are our public and private lives being modified? Are our personal behaviours, our confidential communications and even what defines us as individuals being permanently transformed beyond recognition?
Harry Merriman’s video artwork Landscape of Light explores physical space and investigates how the alteration of our rural environment through human impact then affects our sense of self. It invites us to consider how various things change our views of the landscapes we are amongst.
Multidisciplinary artist April Widdup explores place and isolation from a queer perspective, focussing on their art’s potential to challenge. They are showing two pieces in memory of Queer lives lost to hate-crimes and suicide. These artworks use numerous materials, including recycled wood, mirrors, hot sculpted glass, LED lights, vinyl and laminated sheet glass.
Through their immersive installation pieces, Widdup and Gabriela Renee explore complex cultural and personal narratives and challenge critical thinking around identity, mobility, and place.
There are points along our journey through this exhibition where we are invited to get down amongst the work, temporarily becoming part of it. Quite near the floor, I peered through a small hole and saw another face looking back at me surrounded by names, including Devanny Cardiel, a transsexual woman ambassador for the state of Guanajuato in Mexico, and Disaya Smith, the 36th Trans American killed in 2021.
Uncomfortably on my back, head inside a space, I immersed myself into Widdup’s everchanging scene. Looking at other visitors doing this, and doing it ourselves, adds an extra dimension to our experience.
This excellently curated (by Gabrielle Hall-Lomax) exhibition of diverse works, and accompanying publication, is challenging to think about. Leaving, I wondered how I’d review it. I needed some time to digest what I had viewed before writing this. The artists should be proud of their work and we should look forward to seeing each of them develop their art.
This review was first published by The Canberra Times on page 10 of Panorama and online on 25/03/23 here. It is also available on the Canberra Critics Circle blog here.