Opening Friday, October 23rd, from 7PM - 10PM
On view through Sunday, November 15th
Concertina Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Australia, an exhibition featuring performance and video artist Anthea Behm and photographer Aron Gent.
Acting as a springboard for works by both Behm and Gent, Baz Luhrmann’s 2008 movie Australia provides loaded content for each artist to pick apart and reconstruct. Recently earning a spot in the Museum of Modern Art’s film collection, Australia has established a reputation as both a box office hit and a larger-than-life portrayal of Australian culture and history. Triggering questions of cultural ownership and responsibility, Behm and Gent address the cultural transmission between those represented and those representing. Though the artists work off the same source material, they diverge in form and intention. Behm strips away Luhrmann’s film to its bare structure, rupturing its cinematic devices and inserting the personal, while Gent reworks its surface qualities into an entirely new illusion through time-lapse photography.
In her single-channel video Behm, a Chicago-based Australian, diligently describes the three-hour movie from start to finish, reducing Hollywood spectacle to a deadpan monotone. As viewers watch Behm observe the movie, they are given only verbal descriptors of Luhrmann’s creation. Although free to imagine what is onscreen, viewers also receive information filtered through the artist’s subjective response.
Like Behm, Chicago-based photographer Aron Gent draws attention to the movie’s more illusory aspects. By freezing the action and creating an abstract image, he exaggerates the already stylized qualities of Australia. Gent’s work reveals deceptions of the staged image, often pairing figurative photography with landscapes. In the case of Mountainside (2009), the landscape heightens the formal qualities of the time-lapse photograph from the movie, and in this exhibition acts as a false presentation of Australia. Hollywood blurs boundaries between countries, as various locations become proxies for cultural and national identities. This exhibition allows for an examination of both filmic tropes and cultural interchanges, from the viewpoints of two very different artists.