Monuments are Now
Monument to Now is located where the industrial meets the intimate. At the northern end of the Upfield Bike Path where tilt slab warehouses sit alongside community gardens and renegade mosaics. It is a place of small moments of tenderness amidst a largely unloved urban thoroughfare, and this exhibition of temporary, site-responsive artwork listens closely to what is there. It is a celebration of the dichotomies and diversity of Melbourne’s north, at this moment in time.
With artworks either physically located as sculptures or posters on the Upfield Bike Path or triggered through QR codes, where their presence is disembodied and contactless, this exhibition is indeed a monument to now. The exhibition’s form as well as its content exemplifies this moment in history, when our physical realities are increasingly ciphered through a digital interface.
Artworks such as Michael Prior’s kinetic, solar powered sculptures, Patrick Pound’s path posters and Adam John Cullen’s sculptural intervention in the Fawkner Memorial Park are physical - occupying three dimensions. Whereas other works such as the binaural sound work by Sarah Walker, Mira Oosterweghel's web-based poem and collages, the walking tour by Emma Gibson, or spoken word works by Catherine Clover and Timmah Ball with Liquid Architecture, are all activated digitally.
However, this digital sphere, unlike other online art exhibitions, is not flat, nor static, rather each work requires our proprioceptive engagement. For every work viewers' are invited to move, physically activating muscles and nerves in relation to the artwork – whether it is a sound work or sculpture. Despite being activated digitally – viewer's must move their bodies to seek out the next QR code, the next artwork. The body and the artwork meet and are tethered through this digital platform, in a strange new harmony.
Meeting on this digital platform, scanning the code becomes a gesture of greeting. Permission granted, the exhibition opens into your personal device, and the artists' energies are transmitted into your ear buds or your photo library. But in this gesture of scanning, of walking and of listening, this exhibition hopes to reconnect us with our physicality. A small dance along the path, a private upward thought, a new story for your daily walk. Some time spent alone together in the urban tenderness of the north.
- Emily Cormack, Curator and Public Art Officer, City of Moreland
This exhibition is situated on the unceded land of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung lands and waterways in the area now known as Moreland. We pay our respects and express our gratitude to Elders past, present, and emerging.
This exhibition would not be possible without the invaluable expertise of Assistant Curator Lana Nguyen, installation assistance from Leon Van de Graff, Public Art Officer, Moreland City Council, or the unflinching support from Craig Rogers, Unit Manager Arts and Culture, Moreland City Council. Many thanks also to Melbourne Water for their support, and the Greater melbourne Cemetery Trust for generously granting us permission to install works in Fawkner Memorial Cemetery.
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 please maintain 1.5m distance from others, and practice good hand hygiene while experiencing this exhibition.
A walk from station to station, 2020, Audio, Duration 30’39’’
This site-specific storytelling podcast is designed to be listened to while walking from Fawkner Station to Batman Station. It interweaves historical vignettes that draw from the lives of Batman and Fawkner, their wives and children, with the contemporary sense of place along the Upfield Bike Path. This work brings to the surface the personal and the tragic, highlighting small moments within monumental lives, showing how history and monuments can be blind spots for the fine grain of life.
Emma Gibson is a playwright, writer and dramaturg based in Melbourne. She is a 2020 participant in Melbourne Theatre Company’s Women in Theatre program (for dramaturgy) and a writer in residence at Theatre Works. Her plays have been produced internationally. Most recently, she adapted Randolph Stow’s novel Tourmaline for the Street Theatre in Canberra. Previous plays include War Stories (as co-writer), which had multiple productions in the UK and Ireland; Bloodletting (winner of the Bread and Roses Theatre Award, London); Johnny Castellano is Mine (winner Canberra Critics Circle Award); The Pyjama Girl; Widowbird; and Love Cupboard. The Pyjama Girl, first produced by HotHouse Theatre, is published by Australian Plays.
As well as writing plays, Gibson also writes about place. She has a Master of Arts in Creative Non-Fiction (Place Writing) from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her place-based work includes a spoken-word audio walking tour for the You Are Here Festival, a site-specific poetry installation in Cadiz, Spain, as well as this work for Monument to Now.
Charging torrent, 2020, text, archival materials, stills from artist’s video works
Charging torrent is a new text and collage work hosted online created for MoreArt 2020, responding to a site on Wurundjeri land once known as the ‘Box Forest’, now Fawkner Memorial Park. The work mediates on the role that agriculture has played in settler narratives - both locally and nationally.
Combining a queer gaze with a mishmash of signifiers such as Banjo Patterson’s ‘Man from Snowy River’, images of animals, ‘great white men’, western-centric art magazines, abject bodies and video stills from a recent performance; the work seeks to subvert dominant Australian tales of farming and masculine labour.
Mira Oosterweghel is a queer artist of settler background, living on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people where this work was made. Sovereignty was never ceded.
Patrick Pound, The following, 2020, Posters from found photographs
‘The followers’ is a trail of posters enlarged from found photographs. Each of the photographs is of someone recorded from behind.
One by one these anonymous figures are encountered along the path. Day by day they deteriorate. The viewer takes the place of the photographer and then becomes a follower and then a passer-by. We might notice the people we follow, but we rarely commit them to memory. These momentary notices hover between a collection of records and a set of fading memories. They are a monument to the barely noticed yet quietly human encounters along the way.
Patrick Pound is a New Zealand born, Melbourne based artist and academic.
Pound’s artistic practice is founded upon his personal archives, which have been amassed from years of obsessive and meticulous searching, and includes found photographs, everyday objects and cuttings from newspapers and magazines. Pound reorders these fragments into telling juxtapositions to create a greater, albeit imagined, logic. As he says, “to collect is to gather your thoughts through things”. Through this process, banal and quite disconnected moments are elevated to become humorous, poetic and insightful reflections on the human condition.
Pound has exhibited extensively in Australia and internationally. Recent exhibitions include: 'The Museum of There not There', STATION, Melbourne; 'Photo Espana', El Museo Lazaro Galdiano, Madrid, ES (2019); ‘Water', Queensland Art Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2019); City Gallery Wellington, NZ (2018); 2018 'Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds', Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2018); 'TarraWarra International 2017: All that is solid…,' TarraWarra Museum of Art, Vic (2017); 'The Photograph and Australia', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2015); '1Episodes: 3th Dong Gang International Photo Festival', Dong Gang Museum of Photography, Korea (2014); 'Melbourne Now', National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2013).
In 2017 Patrick Pound had a major survey exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Recently, he was a finalist in the Shpilman International Prize for Photography, Israel Museum, Jerusalem (2018), the Infinity Awards, International Centre for Photography, New York, USA (2018), and the Asia Pacific Signature Art Prize, Singapore (2017). His work is held in numerous public and private collections including National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of New Zealand, Auckland Art Gallery, and the Dunedin Art Gallery.
Flos Movens, 2020, Steel, rope, wood, motors, PV cells
Michael Prior’s work often utilises available energy, and in this sculptural work he draws on the sun. Flos Movens involves an array of photovoltaic cells that translate light into a flow of electrons, which drive a motor that animates flexible materials that are then subject to gravity, centrifugal force, inertia, and the wind.
This work can be played by visitors who can use shade to alter the flow of electrons, therein animating the work.
Michael Prior is an artist and teacher working with sound, sculpture and generative composition. Exploring the kinetic properties of simple materials, he organises relationships between sounds and objects in time.
He is currently focused on developing sculpture for public spaces. These works may function as anything from playground to meeting place, furniture, clock, weather station, or garden tool.
Michael lives and works on the land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation whose sovereignty was never ceded. He pays respect to their elders past and present.
Sarah Walker, Legs Like Pistons, 2020, Binaural audio walk
2020 is a time of big feelings. Nostalgia and future fear sit together in a state of wobbly tension. The things we knew are falling away. Even the act of leaving home for a daily walk has become loaded with strange new meaning. In disaster, we are finding both anxiety and resilience. We are learning to adapt.
Legs like pistons is an immersive binaural audio walk from Merlynston Station to Batman Station, set in an auditory world that blurs the past, the present, and a speculative future after catastrophe. It creates an auditory space where the lines between truth and fiction blur, where present and future collide and the human body becomes a force for change, movement and power. It lays new meaning over a familiar urban landscape, and imagines what might be to come.
You will need a pair of headphones to experience this walk.
Sarah Walker is an artist, writer and photographer. She uses comedy, narrative and speculative fiction to create surprising encounters with tensions around death, disaster and catastrophe. She works particularly with immersive binaural sound works, video and text-based installation. She was a finalist in the 2019 international MTV RE:DEFINE award and the 45downstairs Emerging Artist Award, and has taken part in residencies across Australia and Asia. She has an MFA from RMIT, where she won the 2019 Lowensteins Arts Management Prize. Recent projects have included text block stack at the NGV with Ben Landau and Jalen Lyle-Holmes, the touring exhibition They Cannot Take the Sky with Behind the Wire and Road to Refuge in association with the Immigration Museum, and her solo show In Living Colour at First Site Gallery. She is currently working with Chamber Made and Experimenta on the performance work My Self in that Moment; Ben Landau and Jalen Lyle-Holmes on the interactive phone work Dark Talk Time and Roslyn Oades on the Melbourne iteration of her project The Nightline for Rising Festival. In 2021, she is a lead artist on Colosseum for The Unconformity Festival. She is also a Walkley-nominated essayist and critic. Her first book, The first time I thought I was dying, a collection of non-fiction essays about the unruly body in late capitalism, will be published by UQP in 2021.
Link to Artists website https://www.sarahwalker.work/
Songs you can’t hear, 2020, Text and sound
There were lyrics
A woman in a building
Sung histories we imagined
Fixed to our homes
Text and concept: Timmah Ball, in collaboration with Jessie Scott and Joel Stern
Readers: Dimitris Troaditis (Greek), Iliass Saoud (Arabic), Luigi Lana (Italian)
Research Support: Celine Saoud, Shima Aristidou, Katrin Strohl (Coburg Historical Society)
This work was made on unceded Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung lands and waterways in the area now known as Moreland. The artists pay our respects to Elders past, present, and emerging, as well as to all First Nations' communities.
Link to Full Poem
Lament, 2020, Field recording and spoken word, Duration 14’ 30”
Lament is a site-specific audio response to the Fawkner Cemetery in northern Melbourne. Currently in the midst of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Melbourne is waiting for the tight second wave lockdown restrictions to be eased. The total death toll in Australia is 859 today, 24 September 2020, and 771 of these have been in Victoria. This is a low number compared to many countries around the world, but the loss for family and friends is no less tragic. Family and friends may have been separated from loved ones during their last days, and full funerals have not been possible because of restrictions. These challenges have added greatly to the pain and grief of mourners.
This artwork is an acknowledgement of the grief surrounding the pandemic. In cemeteries, the expression of love from the living towards those who have died is incredibly moving and the public nature of such grief is profound. Spoken word is a focus in the audio but the voices of wild birds heard in the cemetery and around the gravestones are also included, as well as the sounds of everyday life around the cemetery. The behaviour of birds has been embraced in many cultures/faiths to divine meaning and foretell the future and birds can be understood as a connection between the earthly and the heavenly. In the audio some of the birds are referred to by their names in Woi wurrung, the language of the Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners of this part of Melbourne, and these translations have been kindly provided by Wurundjeri Elder Aunty Gail Smith. Barrawarn are Australian Magpies, Yan-Guk are Red Wattlebirds, Dit-Dit are Magpie-Larks.
The reading voice traces a walk that starts at the Gate House entry, and heads south past the Tea Rooms. It reflects the multi-faith orientation of the cemetery and the multicultural mix of the wider neighbourhood and surrounding suburbs, including Hebrew, Jewish, Islamic, Druses, Chinese, Swedish, Latvian Lutheran, Estonian Lutheran and Church of England faiths.
With thanks to the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust for hosting the artwork.
Clover’s multidisciplinary practice addresses communication through voice, language and the interplay between hearing/listening, seeing/reading. Using field recording, digital imaging and the spoken/written word she explores an expanded approach to language within and across species through a framework of everyday experience. The artworks are social in nature and frequently involve collaboration and participation with other artists and with audiences. They take several forms including texts/scores, soundworks, installations, external public artworks, radio, live performance, readings and artists’ books.
Brought up in London UK Clover studied during the 1980s at Wimbledon School of Art and East London University, and arrived in Melbourne Australia as a visiting artist through Gertrude Contemporary in the 1990s. Her work has been exhibited/performed in Europe, Asia, North and South America, Oceania including Australia and New Zealand. Clover teaches at Swinburne University, Melbourne (MA Writing) and holds a practice-led PhD (Fine Art) through RMIT University, Melbourne.
Adam John Cullen, unlade, 2020, Concrete, plaster, hydrastone, colour oxides, paraffin wax, ceramics, porcelain, glass, clothing, fabric off-cuts, bed sheets, past works and studio trials.
Adam John Cullen’s sculptural practice draws from aspects of personal memory, culture, history, pulled into a nexus of economic and political relations. Embedded within his sculptures are various personal objects and ephemera that he has accumulated across the years and that constantly appear and re-appear throughout his various works. These can include clothing, fabric, chains, candle holders, souvenirs, neck- laces and t-shirts. Embedded within the plaster that Cullen uses to create his work these objects become like fragmentary relics or archaeological evidence of loss, intimacy and memory, each baring traces of personal and social significance.
To create these works Cullen first creates casts (of vases, plinths, columns, candles etc.) in which his objects and mementos are then mixed, coloured, broken-up, dissolved or poured into (and then filled in with plaster) to form a cast of the original form, now buried with personal objects and memories. After the cast forms, they are then either broken apart or chipped away at. These objects and mementoes form into ‘finished’ works, however in time they will once again be removed, broken up, and re-used in later projects and sculptures, and in this way are perpetually in a state of arrested becoming.
With thanks to the Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust for hosting the artwork.
Adam John Cullen completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at RMIT University in 2007, Honours at Monash University in 2008 and is a current MFA candidate at the VCA. Selected solo shows include ghost, Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne 2019; three dogs, Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, 2018; dissolve, Gertrude Contemporary Glasshouse, Melbourne, 2017; Bapaume St, Alaska Projects, 2016; Burnout, Alaska Projects, Sydney, 2015; Settle, TCB Art Inc., Melbourne, 2014; Lumped Together, West Space, Melbourne, 2013. Cullen has shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Sydney, as part of Primavera 2017 and was a finalist in the 2015 Sidney Myer Australian Ceramics Award at Shepparton Art Museum (SAM). He has undertaken residencies at Kuandu Museum of Fine Arts, Taipei, Asialink, 2018, Tentacles, Bangkok, 2018, Hill End, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, 2018; and Yogyakarta, KUNCI Cultural Studies Centre, 2012. Cullen held a Gertrude Contemporary studio residency from 2016 -18 and participated in the TCB Art Inc. board exchange with gallery Aperto in Montpellier, 2016. His work is held in numerous private collections across Australia, Canada, United States and is in the collections of Deakin University and the Shepparton Art Museum.